There’s No Such Thing as the Liberal War on Science
It’s not that I disagree with Shermer on every point. I will accept that misguided claims about GM foods being dangerous to eat (they aren’t), and about childhood vaccines causing autism (they don’t), are more common on the left and, indeed, spring from the left’s sometimes knee-jerk anti-corporatism. (To some extent, nuclear power is another such issue—scientists tend to think the alleged dangers of radiation traveling over long distances, in small doses, are pretty overblown. And no, Chernobyl did not kill a million people.)
But what’s striking about each of these cases is that on the left, you fail to see a mainstreaming of anti-science views. Indeed, the Obama administration is very pro-nuclear! And that’s typical: What you get on the left is a heck of a lot of dissension and pushback against those who are making scientifically questionable claims—and, as has clearly occurred in the vaccine case, the ultimate banishment of these bad ideas from intellectually serious company.
And what that means is that anti-science doesn’t shape policy in the same way on the left. Yes, you will find extremes—islands of ideology where, basically, Monsanto is the Great Satan and vaccines are causing autism. But there is no currently pressing issue (that I can think of) where the left is monolithically in denial of basic science, or where this drives mainstream political policy—e.g., drives the stance of most elected Democrats.
Good article and interesting perspectives on both sides of the issue. I’ve often taken issue with left side hysteria over GM crops or anti-vaccer positions. However, I do agree with the author that these positions do not control or drive left side policy and position in any measurable way compared to the right.