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Friday, March 30, 2012

A failure of narrative

Conservatives increasingly distrust scientists:
Just over 34 percent of conservatives had confidence in science as an institution in 2010, representing a long-term decline from 48 percent in 1974, according to a paper being published today in American Sociological Review. That represents a dramatic shift for conservatives, who in 1974 were more likely than liberals or moderates (all categories based on self-identification) to express confidence in science. While the confidence levels of other groups in science have been relatively stable, the conservative drop now means that group is the least likely to have confidence in science....

Less-educated conservatives didn't change their attitudes about science in recent decades. It is better-educated conservatives who have done so, the paper says.

In the paper, Gauchat calls this a "key finding," in part because it challenges "the deficit model, which predicts that individuals with higher levels of education will possess greater trust in science, by showing that educated conservatives uniquely experienced the decline in trust.”
The left-liberal narrative wants to push the idea that conservatives have turned away from the scientific method for ideological reasons and are willing to do so because they are less educated. But that won't fly, since it is the more educated conservatives who don't trust "science as an institution". Which, of course, is very different than science as a method.

And the reason is obvious. Science as an institution is increasingly abandoning science as a method, so much so that it is often not even appropriate to refer to "science" or "scientists" when one is discussing some of the various quasi-sciences such as econometrics, the theory of evolution by (probably) natural selection, and what presently goes by the name of "climate change".

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