If you listen to liberal activists or even most of the mainstream media these days, conservatives are dangerously “anti-science.” They cling to religion and ideology that traps them in a warped reality, denying the Smart People Consensus about climate change, evolution, and Keynesian economics. They don’t even understand how women’s bodies work! Any evidence that contradicts their already-established beliefs is immediately dismissed as the propaganda of a left-wing conspiracy. Meanwhile, enlightened progressives are able to eagerly accept whatever science reveals to be Ultimate Truth.
It’s a tidy little narrative, and many conservatives only seem to encourage it. (The latest controversy is over “polling denial,” which New York Magazine says is similar to all the other “fields of conservative reality denial.”) Unfortunately, this narrative isn’t true: liberals are guilty of hating science, too.
In a scathing Slate post titled “GMO Opponents Are the Climate Skeptics of the Left,” Keith Kloor documents the liberal hyping of a terrible study that said genetically modified food caused tumors in lab rats. It was conducted by a guy with a biased history of distorted attacks on GM food who just happens to have a book and documentary coming out the same week as the study. The study, meanwhile, was “riddled with errors” and quickly condemned by “scores of scientists,” but that didn’t stop Mother Jones from saying the study “shine[s] a harsh light” or Grist from saying it’s “worth paying attention to.” Kloor points out many of the other ways the “anti-GM bias also reveals a glaring intellectual inconsistency of the eco-concerned media.”
But of course genetically modified food isn’t the only thing that liberals insist on fearing even though all the scientists seem to think it’s safe. Kloor gives a passing mention to the anti-vaccine movement, which is becoming so prevalent in California that it’s messing with herd immunity.
And let’s not forget about the lefty paranoia of hydraulic fracking. I’m not sure if there’s a “scientific consensus” about fracking or not, but the most seemingly objective things I’ve read say there are some concerns about water usage and potential chemical leakage but for the most part the techniques have been used for decades with almost no problems. But that hasn’t stopped environmental groups from pressuring New York’s governor to keep the relatively clean energy source (and the jobs it would create) away from their state, and it hasn’t stopped Hollywood’s Matt Damon from hyping some new distorted anti-fracking documentary, which in a surprise twist has some funding links to Oil, that favorite liberal villain.
So, no, conservatives don’t have a monopoly on skepticism. Liberal ideology can disagree with scientists just as easily. Some might respond that there are problems with the scientific consensus on some of these issues, due to poorly designed studies or ignored factors or biased researchers or whatever else. That may be true, but that’s exactly what conservatives say about the issues on their side. Others may say that, yeah, there are some fringe elements of the progressive umbrella that ignore the scientific safety of vaccines, but not all liberals are actually like that. That may be true, too, but all conservatives aren’t homophobes, either.
I actually find these progressive movements somewhat encouraging, and not because it exposes a mirrored hypocrisy. I hope some of these liberals will realize that the elites of the “reality-based community” don’t really have it all figured out, and that sometimes they might still be wrong. I hope they might even be willing to consider that there might be some interesting grains of truth in those conservative objections to the Smart People Consensus. After all, isn’t good science always supposed to be a little skeptical?
Follow @postlibertarian on Twitter to keep up with new posts...