Conservatives have long been skeptical of certain scientific claims, especially in regard to the science behind man-made global warming.
However, a study by the University of Oxford suggests that there may be a reason for that. In fact, they go as far as to say that conservatives have a “right” to be skeptical of scientists.
The study “Does activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?” was led by Professor of Biology for the University of Oxford Nathan Confas and was first published online back in 2017. However, the study was brought to light again when it was republished this month in the recent issue of the American Sociologist.
While conservatives’ distrust for scientists has decreased every year since 1974, there has been little understanding as to why.
The research hits the well-repeated claim that conservatives often dismiss scientific claims because they contradict their religious beliefs. There are some who believe that conservatives throw out these scientific claims because, as Confas and his team note, it “threatens their worldview.”
However, Confas told Campus Reform that this was a “misguided approach.” Additionally, he said that “liberals and conservatives are equally likely to discredit science if it conflicts with their world-view.”
Confas proposed that the reason so many conservatives are skeptical is that there is an increase of liberalism within the scientific community.
He cited a recent study to prove his point. The study surveyed 479 sociology professors, and only 4 percent identified as conservative or libertarian. Compare this with the 86 percent who identify themselves as liberal or left-radical.
Additionally, Confas suggests that goal of sociology “involves reorganizing society to fight inequality, oppression, poverty, hierarchy, and the like. Its ideological orientation arose out of … civil rights, feminism, Marxism, and other progressive movements.”
But it’s not just the area of sociology where this bias is creeping in. UNT professor George Yancy published a piece titled, “Yes Academic Bias is a Problem and We Need to Address It.”
“Given the reality that academics are much more politically progressive and irreligious than the general population, one should be concerned about the potential of liberal and secular bias,” he wrote. “Those like myself are also concerned about academic bias simply because such bias can lead to bad science.”
It’s this “bias” that leads to “bad science” that is concerning to Confas. He told Campus Reform, “Taking the easy route isn’t something that I or my coauthors are tempted to do. We want to do our part to help correct the science.”
He added, “Conservatives are right to be skeptical. Take any politicized issue that is connected to some disagreement about scientific fact. I do not believe there is a single case in the last couple decades where a major scientific organization took a position that went against the platform of the Democratic Party.”
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