Politics Magazine

Scientists Versus the Rest of Us

Posted on the 02 February 2015 by Erictheblue


A Pew research study shows wide gaps between what American scientists and the American public think about a range of issues, including many with weighty policy implications.  The AP story about the study says that "[t]he gaps didn't correlate to any liberal-conservative split," but, reading the details, I think that's a confection tossed out to keep the heart rates of our right-handed friends in an acceptable zone. 

On the proposition that humans and other living organisms have evolved, 98% of scientists, but only 65% of all adults, agree.  Regarding climate change, the gap is similar--only half of American adults, compared to 87% of scientists, think it's mostly a consequence of human activity.  (The science respondents were members, from all disciplines, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the 87% figure rises to 98% if one counts only the views of climatologists.)  On other questions, the gap is even wider--for example, nearly nine in ten scientists (88%), but barely a third of adults (37%), think it's safe to eat genetically modified foods.  On the currently contentious questions of fracking and off-shore drilling, the gaps are narrower, but scientists are still significantly more inclined than is the general public to take the "liberal" view.  Half the public, but only a third of scientists, favor more off-shore drilling.  Both the public and scientists are unpersuaded of the supposed benefits of fracking, but the  roughly 60-40 public split rises to about 70-30 among scientists.

Unless I've missed all the bug-eyed liberals ranting in the halls of Congress about the dangers of genetically modified foods, I'd say that the scientists look a lot like what Republicans call "elitists"--a silly pejorative that seems to suggest we should ignore what experts think so as to adopt the views of Billy Bob from Baton Rouge.

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

Paperblog Hot Topics