The skewed ideologies of science

Mistrust in scientific findings comes from philosophy of the New Right platform.

Delaney Daly

In the fourth grade, Bill Nye the Science Guy was one of my biggest heroes. Maybe it was because I watched his show daily; maybe it was that catchy theme song that got everyone chanting, “Bill! Bill! Bill!” Looking back, I do know that Bill Nye helped me do something I never planned. From him, I learned basic scientific principles about myself and the world around me. Of course at the time I was not so grateful. I, like the rest of my privileged and educated peers, took for granted the scarce gift of logical thought processes. By the time I was a teenager and too cool to slowly mouth “Science rules!” I had fully estranged myself from the goofy expert that practically taught my
science class.

Fast forward to my indignation earlier this October when I read that Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., at Georgia’s Liberty Baptist Church had denounced embryology, the Big Bang Theory and evolution as lies “straight from the pit of hell.” His seemed to me the usual nuttiness of those who heavily lean on fundamentalism.

That was until I learned that Broun, a medical doctor, was on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Wait, what? This man is actually regarded as an authority figure in the sciences. I am not sure how somebody doesn’t believe in the scientific development of an embryo, let alone a doctor, yet Broun swears his schooling in embryology was a hoax. What’s more is that Broun is a shoe-in for re-election since he does not have an opponent. I was
appalled.

My once-forgotten hero, the Science Guy himself, soon emerged to the public scene and said what everyone was thinking:  Broun’s mindset should make it clear that he cannot be trusted to make decisions in the realm of politics or the sciences. 

Although Broun is seen as a fundamentalist conservative extreme in politics, his views show a staunch politicization of science. Broun is, after all, a Republican congressional representative. His statements reflect what many conservatives feel toward basic scientific
principles: mistrust.

In fact, conservative public trust in science has steadily been depleting since the 1970s. Moreover, those who identified as conservative had the highest amount of public trust in science in 1974. The decline is then even more apparent in contrast to the small but significant rise of trust from both moderates and liberals.

Doubt on the authenticity of the sciences is seen beyond the principles of evolution and through global warming as well. More than 50 percent of Republicans don’t believe there is solid evidence for global warming, while Republican endorsement for the funding of alternative energy has decreased by nearly 30 percent since 2009.

Why is this split so big? Could it be that the instilled ideologies of the New Right inherently go against the values of modern scientific research? It’s a possibility that the ideology of this platform is simply not congruent with much of contemporary science. It’s also an arguable possibility that science is certainly not always correct, although most of our developed world continues to trust in the theory of evolution.

One thing is for sure: Science is hardly ever right. The political skew in science has gotten so great that a mere 9 percent of scientists identify as conservative, a startlingly low amount to the 35 percent of moderates and 52 percent of those who see themselves as liberal.

Let it stop. Science should not be taken over by political creed. Instead, it should be a venture for all who wish to understand the underlying process of life.

In the words of my reclaimed hero, “Science is the key to our future, and if you don’t believe in science, then you’re holding everybody back.”