Political scientists?

Daniel Sarewitz notes that “A Pew Research Center Poll from July 2009 showed that only around 6 percent of U.S. scientists are Republicans; 55 percent are Democrats, 32 percent are independent, and the rest “don’t know” their affiliation.” The implications of this that he explores is that “the issue here is legitimacy, not literacy.”

One factor that doesn’t seem to get much notice is that the poll is probably talking about the academic community. That is a self selecting community whose bias in political ideology has been gaining some attention lately. That bias reaches into the dependence of the academic community on government funding whether it be tuition support or research grants. The feedback is almost entirely towards the leftist ideologue.

Science does have one value that can set it apart from politics. Ideas in science can be held accountability whereas opinions in politics are simply personal values. The process of accountability in science has its flaws but there is still some adherence to those values. This can be seen in the climate debate that has erupted in the last year or so. The issue for a scientist is not his or her political party. It is a matter of intellectual integrity. The assumption is generally that others are honest and providing good science. That assumption, at least in the area of climate research, is undergoing some examination. What is learned may influence just how careful scientists will be in making similar assumptions in other technical areas.

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