Monday, August 3, 2009
A new Pew study finds that just 6% of scientists are Republicans. Given the condition of the Republican Party, I'm surprised it's as high as 6%, but putting that to one side, the silence from right-wing bloggers about this new study has been deafening compared to earlier, less methodical ones, but the reason is clear: whereas a case might be made that skewed political party affiliations in law or the humanities or the social sciences should be chalked up to bias in the hiring process, it seems a bit harder to see how partisan politics could figure in the evaluation of work in cosmology, molecular genetics, or physical chemistry. So this raises the question whether other factors are at work in explaining political party affiliation. A serious investigation of the question would have to consider what role intelligence, emotional or psychological health, and/or bigotry play in explaining why the Republican Party can attract only a small minority of intellectuals and scholars to its ranks any longer.
UPDATE: A reader points out, correctly, that the survey was done of a random sample of members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, so this was not a purely random sample of scientists. And since the AAAS is an oponent of scientific ignorance, and since scientific ignorance, sad to say, mostly makes its home in the Republican Party these days, this survey may well overstate the anti-Republican tilt of scientists generally.