The Politics Of Scientists


Robin Hanson points to the above graph from a recent survey and posits:

If the public knew the truth, I expect two effects:

  1. The public would consider scientists to be less authoritative as a neutral source on policy questions, and
  2. Since scientists are respected, the public would become less conservative and more liberal.

But it seems to me that scientists may simply be responding to the redefinition of conservatism in America as a fundamentalist Protestant religious grouping that denies evolution, favors (intellectually indefensible) Bibical literalism, and has a problem with the Enlightenment. Many scientists might remain conservative in the sense I hold - belief in limited government, pragmatic change, individual freedom - but feel they have to call themsleves "liberal" considering the views of those who now go by the name "conservative."