Upon Further Review, The Leftie Media Gets It Right – If For The Wrong Reason

Posted on March 29, 2012 by

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Today on Yahoo! news, there was an article that had all the makings of your typical screed demonizing Conservatives as anti-science flat earthers:

Study: Trust in science among educated conservatives plunges

But a funny thing happened on the way to characterizing Conservatives as backwards nincompoops. Now don’t get me wrong, the author wasn’t trying to be fair. She just couldn’t help herself. Liz Goodwin is known as one of the more left-leaning authors at Yahoo! “news”, and never fails to take the opportunity to bash Conservatism as unenlightened. However, the study she cites was filled with some inconvenient facts:

Conservatives, particularly those with college educations, have become dramatically more skeptical of science over the past four decades, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. Fewer than 35 percent of conservatives say they have a “great deal” of trust in the scientific community now, compared to nearly half in 1974.

The author of the study goes further:

In fact, in 1974, people who identified as conservatives were among the most confident in science as an institution, with liberals trailing slightly behind, and moderates bringing up the rear. Liberals have remained fairly steady in their opinion of the scientific community over the interim, while conservative trust in science has plummeted. [all emphasis added]

Notice that little turn of phrase? Conservatives used to be confident in science as an institution, but trust in the institution has plummeted. But that last sentence is the most enlightening – it reveals the study author’s own personal bias. Liberals trust the scientific community, while conservatives don’t trust science. That’s a very important distinction, don’t you think?

Now, we all know that liberals who believe in anthropogenic global warming (AGW) prefer to trust consensus and community over actual science. It’s the ultimate populist argument – if enough scientists validate my beliefs, I don’t really have to question them or review the scientific proof myself. It reminds me of the anecdote recounted by George Will in his baseball masterpice, Men At Work: The Craft Of Baseball:

“Baseball umpires are carved from granite and stuffed with microchips…they are professional dispensers of pure justice. Once when Babe Pinelli called Babe Ruth out on strikes, Ruth made a populist argument. Ruth reasoned fallaciously (as populists do) from raw numbers to moral weight: ‘There’s 40,000 people here who know that last one was a ball, tomato head.’” “Pinelli replied with the measured stateliness of John Marshall: ‘Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts.’”

Here’s the point. Conservatives, especially well educated ones, have lost all trust in the scientific community – and it’s precisely because they have trust in science. Institutions, it seems, are only as good as their ability to prevent against corruption, fraud and exploitation.

Ms. Goodwin, in this article, is forced to admit that her preconceived notions about Conservatives fall apart in light of this study:

Interestingly, the most educated conservatives have led that charge. Conservatives with college degrees began distrusting science earlier and more forcefully than other conservatives, upending assumptions that less educated people on the whole are more distrustful of science.

The article goes on to engage in the expected unfounded speculation as to why this could possibly be – seemingly it has to do with the space race, military-industrial complex, attendance at church, and other such stereotypes of conservative pride. However, the article failed to hit its target because the facts presented did absolutely nothing to support this speculation.

These types of articles are very instructive to Conservatives. With the slight, almost imperceptible twist of phrase (“liberals trust the scientific community, while conservatives don’t trust science”), a massive misconception can be propagated to further the popular meme that Conservatives just don’t understand. Conservatives should be on the lookout for any author who attempts to squeeze inconvenient facts into through their Liberal Bias Filter to mold them to fit their preconceived notions.

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