Should Scientists Become More Bipartisan?

Daniel Sarewitz who publishes various commentary that is often times critical of science in the world’s leading science journal. He wrote quite the bombshell that was directed at American scientists in particular where the vast majority of them are liberal democrats. He criticized them for neglecting the Republican party and conservatives while throwing their support for the Democratic party.

In Nature he says…

“Scientists in the United States are often perceived as a Democratic interest group. For science’s sake this has to change, argues Daniel Sarewitz.

To prevent science from continuing its worrying slide towards politicization, here’s a New Year’s resolution for scientists, especially in the United States: gain the confidence of people and politicians across the political spectrum by demonstrating that science is bipartisan.”

Sarewitz also researched American scientists donations to political parties and discovered that, “Of the 43 (out of 68) signatories on record as having made past political donations, only five had ever contributed to a Republican candidate, and none did so in the last election cycle.”  This is wrong! Because...”citizens with political preferences,” he said,  should not treat science like a political football.  “If the laureates are speaking on behalf of science, then science is revealing itself, like the unions, the civil service, environmentalists and tort lawyers, to be a Democratic interest, not a democratic one.” 

Sarewitz then argues from a historical prospective that science prospered under both parties! “The claim that Republicans are anti-science is a staple of Democratic political rhetoric, but bipartisan support among politicians for national investment in science, especially basic research, is still strong,” Sarewitz explains along with providing some statistics to back up his explanation.

Why do Republicans get a bad rap when it comes to science? Sarewitz says it is because of opposition towards “social science.” Sarewitz believes that social science is bent towards accomplishing liberal agendas. Adding to the problem is that social science is spreading into other areas, inserting itself into the scientific initiatives.

“As scientists seek to provide policy-relevant knowledge on complex, interdisciplinary problems ranging from fisheries depletion and carbon emissions to obesity and natural hazards, the boundary between the natural and the social sciences has blurred more than many scientists want to acknowledge.”

When scientists align themselves with the Democratic party, it’s no wonder that Republicans get the idea that all science is social science especially when it comes to controversial issues such as climate change or policies around reproduction.

One-party science is “dangerous for science and for the nation,” he warned. And then rebukes them…

“The US scientific community must decide if it wants to be a Democratic interest group or if it wants to reassert its value as an independent national asset. If scientists want to claim that their recommendations are independent of their political beliefs, they ought to be able to show that those recommendations have the support of scientists with conflicting beliefs.”  

Sarewitz is right in this way, unless parity is achieved, scientists and their institutions have lost credibility to claim science is an “independent national asset” providing value to all Americans. Sarewitz is also concerned about loss of funding, if scientists remain a special interest group for one party, the other party will not be so willing to give it funds.

Normally in a robust economy where more people are working in the private sector which means more tax dollars are generated, funding for science then becomes no huge problem at all…in fact, the funding science goes way up, only when the economy struggles or is a recession does it become a major issue with borrowing more money to fund programs along with some cuts being made.

The redistributionist path the United States is currently under by this administration, though, will damage science along with the rest of the private sector! Here is an example, a sales tax which comes from the health-care law which was passed back in 2010 (or known as Obamacare), on all medical devices.  Here is the thing, biotech companies did not make a profit for ten years before they became such an impact as they are now with the profits. By taxing the sales, rather than the profits, will compel a company to pay more taxes while hindering up and coming medical products (especially with smaller companies who don’t have a lot of capital) which are trying to break into the mainstream! The sales tax hurts creativity and innovation for science!

The Democrats own the American economy now.  As the debt skyrockets into unprecedented trillions (more than incurred by all previous presidents combined), scientists are getting hurt along with every other American. The Feds are increasing the money supply each month (until economic conditions get better) along with the nation’s rising debt threatens inflation. Things get more costly! Scientists have to be more bipartisan and make a case for efficiency, tighten up their budgets like that never did before along with some modest cuts rather than affordable increases in funding! Until the economy recovers, where more tax dollars are available for funding then you can talk about affordable increases! If not, an economic meltdown will eventually occur!

6 thoughts on “Should Scientists Become More Bipartisan?

  1. Bipartisan ????
    My home country has 27 political parties – how’d you call that ?

    Part of your problem is the two-party system, if you ask me. Far too few …

  2. Well, for once Michael has used one of the subjects I proposed.

    We don’t have to look far to see why scientists favor the Democrats. Chris Mooney said it all in The Republican War on Science (Basic Books 2006). A review in Scientific American puts it this way:

    Thomas Jefferson would be appalled. More than two centuries after he helped to shape a government based on the idea that reason and technological advancement would propel the new United States into a glorious future, the political party that now controls that government has largely turned its back on science. Even as the country and the planet face both scientifically complex threats and remarkable technological opportunities, many Republican officeholders reject the most reliable sources of information and analysis available to guide the nation. ….[L]arge swaths of the government in Washington are now in the hands of people who don’t know what science is. More ominously, some of those in power may grasp how research works but nonetheless are willing to subvert science’s knowledge and expert opinion for short-term political and economic gains….

    Mooney’s chronicle of what he calls “science abuse” begins in the 1970s with Richard Nixon and picks up steam with Ronald Reagan. But both pale in comparison to the current Bush administration, which in four years has:
    * Rejected the scientific consensus on global warming and suppressed an EPA report supporting that consensus
    * Stacked numerous advisory committees with industry representatives and members of the religious Right.
    * Begun deploying a missile defense system without evidence that it can work.
    * Banned funding for embryonic stem cell research except on a claimed 60 cell lines already in existence, most of which turned out not to exist.
    * Forced the National Cancer Institute to say that abortion may cause breast cancer, a claim refuted by good studies.
    * Ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its Web site.

    Congress instituted the Office of Technology Assessment to produce studies on policy issues involving scientific questions. Republican Newt Gingrich closed it is 1995. Another Congressman said at the time, “We are cutting off one of the most important arms of Congress when we cut off unbiased knowledge about science and technology.” (Hillary Clinton pledged to reopen it in the 2008 presidential campaign.) Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) took to the Senate floor to declare that “man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” The latest poke in the eye is the Republican governor of North Carolina, who preventing scientists from switching to a more accurate model of sea-level change—because it would predict more flooding of their Atlantic coast. Can you say “King Canute”?

    For the Republican party, politics trumps science.

    Can you blame scientists, then, for supporting the political party that at least listens to scientists? Sure, scientists should try to get the attention of Republicans in using the best scientific evidence to inform policy decisions. But, so far, it’s like talking to the wall. Although presently inactive, I am a member of the AAAS Committee on Science, Engineering and Public Policy (COSEPP). There are a few Republican politicians who are willing to consider scientific results objectively. However, most of them were swept out of office or defeated in primaries in the past few years, leaving the party more anti-science than before.

    So what do scientists do when an entire political party bends science to political ends, denies inconvenient results, and even calls it a “hoax”? They support the party that will at least listen. It’s that simple.

  3. In the CEH post which Michael purloined above without attribution, David Coppedge included an unusually long commentary.[0] Referring to the opinion piece in Nature, he states—

    [T]his article is important, not only for its good advice, but for reinforcing what CEH has alleged for a long time – that scientists and academics are (to an overwhelming degree) willing agents of the liberals, leftists, and the Democratic party (see 9/07/2012, 8/22/2012, 7/06/2012, 8/07/2011, 10/14/2010, 7/05/2010, 9/28/2008, or search on Democrats in the search bar). Notice these same people are predominantly Darwinist,[1] too. Unless parity is achieved, scientists and their institutions have lost credibility to claim science is an “independent national asset” providing value to all Americans.

    Coppedge has entirely misapprehended the situation. It is the scientists who speak and the Democratic politicians who listen. Not the other way around.

    Scientists have not lost any credibility here. Republicans have lost credibility with scientists. They have become extreme ideologues, guided by faith, rather than by objectivity.[2]

    Republicans have lost credibility with many people recently.[3] Perhaps someday they might regain it. But, so far……


    [0] The part at the bottom in green ink.

    [1] Of course they are. They tend to accept reality over blind ideology..

    [2] An interesting example was their belief during the campaign that the scientific polls predicting Romney’s defeat were wrong. Mitt Romney was sure he would win—his faith was so strong. Consequently, he was absolutely flabbergasted when the count came in. He ignored reality to his peril.

    [3] I was a life-long Republican myself, until W came along; that’s when they lost credibility for me. (My wife’s family voted mostly Liberal, although occasionally NDP.)

  4. Eelco on January 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm said:
    My home country has 27 political parties – how’d you call that ?

    A plethora of parties can function effectively in a parliamentary system, because they form blocs and coalitions to accomplish goals. More than 2 parties would not work in the US system of multiple branches, because there are too many choke points where one small group can stifle action all by themselves.

    The US 2-party system used to eliminate extremism, because each party had to move to the center in order to attract enough popular vote. This is changing, however. Because of extensive gerrymandering, many more Congressional districts have become “safe seats” for one party or the other. Consequently, the winning candidate is selected, not in the general elections between different parties, but in the primary elections of the party controlling the district. Primary elections have a much lower turnout than general elections, so that the candidates need a lot fewer votes. Since extremists are more active in politics, the candidates are more likely to move toward extreme views in order to attract these voters.

    It is instructive to note that the Senate is always more centrist than the House of Representatives. Since Senate candidates are elected state-wide, they must appeal to a wider range of political philosophies. This decreases extremism. There are fewer safe seats in the Senate. A presidential candidate, elected by everyone in the country, must support by the widest range of voter opinions, and thus must move still closer to the political center.

    We could view this phenomenon in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. Romney’s background and Massachusetts governorship showed him to hold a centrist position. During the Republican primary campaign, he had to move farther and farther to the right in order to out-conservative the other conservative candidates. But, for the general election, he weaseled away from a number of extreme positions, in order to win over the widest range of independent voters.

  5. Not much new stuff in the creationist press. Michael may have to resort to making up stuff..

    >> David Coppedge (CEH) claims that liberals like to kill babies, and Darwinists are liberals. Ergo, Darwinists like to kill babies.
    >> CEH thinks he has refuted U-Pb dating. However, Michael would not be able to follow the technical level on this one.
    >> The ludicrously named Evolution News & Views proclaims that cells have superhighways with motorized traffic. Superhighways and motors are human-designed. Ergo, cells must be designed,
    >> EN&V’s Jonathan MacLatchie claims that ID is not founded on god-of-the-gaps argument, because we now know3 that Zeus does not cause thunder and lightning.
    >> EN&V (anon, Jan. 7) also claims that the genetic code is designed, because it is degenerate. (And here we thought that only Darwinists are degenerate!)
    >> AiG (Jan. 5) returns to the age of the Grand Canyon. Same old, same old.
    >> AiG also chortles over the lack of evolutionary explanations for different languages tied to natural selection. Apparently they have never heard of evolutionary drift, or Vavilov’s law. (Of course, the biblical story of Babel cannot begin to explain the existence of nested trees of language families, or their evolution within recorded history to the point of mutual intelligibility.)

    Did I miss anyone?

  6. More grist for Michael’s mill—

    > CEH notes recently discovered large objects in the early universe that seem to defy big-bang theory.This post relies upon several popular-science press reports, allowing Michael to disguise his creationist sources,
    > CEH has finally twigged to the reports that most deleterious human mutations originated within the past 5-10K years.This one practically shouts “young earth” to a creationist.
    > EN&V wonders whether 21stC biology actually needs evolution. This anonymous post quotes a PLoS paper that touts the applications of evolutionary theory, then proceeds to dismember it.
    > A new News to Note from AiG claims that recently discovered human diet changes can be attributed to instability following Noah’s flood.
    > AiG also makes much of the high water content of a meteorite from Mars. It is not clear what import this has for a young universe.

    That’s the recent stuff. However, one recent EN&V reference to an older post is intriguing. In “Does Intelligent Design Help Science Generate New Knowledge?” (Nov. 23, 2010), Casey Luskin proffers 13 examples wherein he claims that ID has actually aided the progress of real science. The examples have a superficial appeal for those, such as Chazing, who abjure deeper analysis.

    So keep on slogging, Michael!

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