In their book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell counter allegations of a Republican war on science by pointing out how political progressives are equally ant...
In their book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left, Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell counter allegations of a Republican war on science by pointing out how political progressives are equally anti-science. According to Berezow and Campbell, progressives hold opinions that are not based on physical reality, and claim that their beliefs are based on science even when they are not.
I try to stay out of politics, but anti-science attitudes should be discouraged wherever they are found, and the mythology of progressives as described by Berezow and Campbell is very much like the thinking of alternative medicine:
Everything natural is good
Everything unnatural is bad
Unchecked science and progress will destroy us
Science is only relative anyway
I wasn’t clear on what “progressives” meant, but apparently progressives are similar to liberals in that they value economic authoritarianism and different in that they are also social authoritarians. Liberal economic authoritarianism favors higher taxes on the wealthy, more regulations on the marketplace, and social programs that redirect money to target social inequality. Conservatives want to limit such government interference with the economy; but they are social authoritarians like progressives, only on different issues. Where conservative social authoritarians want government to ban “immoral” things like sex and drugs, progressive social authoritarians endorse government control over the environment, food production, and education. Conservatives want to ban abortion; progressives want to ban plastic grocery bags. Here’s another definition:
…”liberals” in our current parlance are those who focus on using taxpayer money to help better society. A “progressive” are [sic] those who focus on using government power to make large institutions play by a set of rules…A liberal policy towards prescription drugs is one that would throw a lot of taxpayer cash at the pharmaceutical industry to get them to provide medicine to the poor; A progressive prescription drug policy would be one that centered around price regulations…
Republicans have been criticized for their anti-science stance on evolution, global warming, and stem cell research. There is an equally disturbing tendency for activists on the other side of the aisle to cherry pick, misinterpret, misrepresent, and abuse science to advance their ideological and political agendas. They have misused science to attack vaccines and genetically modified foods, to promote organic food, and to propose poorly thought out environmental protection legislation. When science is co-opted to serve ideology, science is degraded and the resulting public policies do more harm than good.
The authors present many examples of progressive ideology’s misuse of science and support of injudicious policies, for example:
One would think animal rights activists, conservationists, and food fetishists would all be enthusiastic about innovations to improve the future of food production, like laboratory-grown meat and technology to improve agricultural efficiency; but they typically reject them, perhaps because they think of them as “unnatural.”
“It takes 1 gallon of gas to make 1 pound of beef” is a false claim, as is the claim that walking to the store creates 4 times as much emissions as driving to the store. These claims are based on math and reasoning errors: they took a fact out of context, mixed terms, and guessed.
Mandatory low flush toilets have inconvenienced us all, and they have also caused sludge accumulation and odors so bad that San Francisco is spending $14 million to dump bleach into the sewers to combat it (and bleach is not exactly environmentally friendly). Domestic water use only represents 1% of total use and toilets are a small fraction of that; it would make far more sense to target efficiency in power plants (49% of water use) and irrigation (31%). The toilets were a typical “Band-Ai