BY TOM JACOBS
from Pacific Standard
While political partisans of all stripes have been known to take issue with research findings that contradict their positions, conservatives have come across as particularly anti-science of late. Columnist and commentator George Will, who dismisses the consensus opinion of climate-change researchers, recently expressed skepticism of the medical community’s assurances that Ebola cannot be caught via airborne transmission.
Will clearly perceives scientists as untrustworthy, their conclusions skewed by self-interest and preconceived notions. While this view is obviously self-serving—he really should check out the psychological notion of projection—it raises disturbing questions about whether science has become hopelessly politicized.
So are scientists—as conservatives suspect—more likely to be liberals? Recently published research suggests they are, but—contrary to the implication left by Will and his colleagues—this is not because political progressives are more intrinsically inclined than right-wingers to choose a scientific career.
Rather, according to a research team led by Harvard University psychologist Christine Ma-Kellams, immersion in the world of sciencetends to shifts students’ attitudes toward the left side of the political spectrum.