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Anti-Science Left Harms More than Anti-Science Right


This excerpt from a lecture by Jonathan Haidt in which he argues that both the right and the left deny science when it challenges their sacred values is fine as far as it goes. But what it leaves out amounts to a lie of omission. Or, if “lie” is too unkind – as anyone who reads this blog knows, I’m a HUGE Haidt fan; maybe even a groupie  –  then at least a disingenuous implication of moral equivalence when none actually exists. 

A far greater amount of public policy hinges on leftist denial of science than on that of the right.

As a result, far more harm to human society and human individuals is committed by the anti-science left than by the anti-science right.

John Tierney explains in his essay The Real War On Science: The Left has done far more than the right to set back progress in City Journal.

Here are the first few paragraphs.  You should read the whole thing.

My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don’t devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It’s fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren’t you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives’ threat to science?

My friends don’t like my answer: because there isn’t much to write about. Conservatives just don’t have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the “party of science.” But I’ve done my homework. I’ve read the Left’s indictments, including Chris Mooney’s bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties?

Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced? Yes, the book reveals that Republican creationists exist, but they don’t affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution. Yes, George W. Bush refused federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, but that hardly put a stop to it (and not much changed after Barack Obama reversed the policy). Mooney rails at scientists and politicians who oppose government policies favored by progressives like himself, but if you’re looking for serious damage to the enterprise of science, he offers only three examples

All three are in his first chapter, during Mooney’s brief acknowledgment that leftists “here and there” have been guilty of “science abuse.” First, there’s the Left’s opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there’s the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there’s the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.

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