Oxford Study Finds Conservatives Are ‘Right To Be Skeptical’ of Scientists
An initial note: The leading author in the paper mentioned below is Nathan Cofnas, not Confas. It is of course an unusual name so confusion is understood. It is a Lithuanian Jewish name.
I have read the original academic journal article and rather admire the way Nathan has minimized his upsetting of applecarts. Most social psychological research is utter bilge (examples here and here) but Nathan quotes a lot of it with a straight face. He establishes his point about biased scientists even while not criticizing a lot of biased science.
I myself worked for ten years in a sociology department of a highly rated Australian university and rapidly became aware that all of the other teaching staff were Marxists of one stripe or another -- so it was clear from that that conservative ideas would not get fair consideration, if they were considered at all.
Cofnas mentions the difficulty that conservatives have in getting results of their research published in the academic journals. I experienced that and had to go to great lengths to overcome it. I overcame it by doing much higher quality work than Leftist authors were presenting -- which was not actually that hard.
By that I am referring to the virtually universal practice among psychologists of carrying out their research using either white rats or available groups of freshman students. Such studies are no more than childish games. To arrive at any sort of generalizable conclusion, you have to base your research on a representative sample of the population you wish to discuss. Normal psychological research, however, does nor use representative samples of anything. They do not even attempt to use representative samples of freshman students! Yet such totally useless research results are routinely presented as if they were generalizable to all humanity! That is just about as far away from real science as you can get. It's about as authoritative as medieval theology.
So I used that to my advantage. I did my research using real random samples of specifiable populations. I went out and doorknocked, for instance -- something that would give almost any leftist academic the horrors. So when my papers came up for evaluation, editors and referees would have looked absurd even to themselves if they rejected the only bit of generalizable research that they had ever seen. Even then, however, if I questioned liberal dogma too sharply or sweepingly, my papers were rejected. Like Cofnas I had to stick to a careful consideration of just a few detailed points.
So conservatives do well to be skeptical of conclusions from liberal social scientists. Their conclusions are not only biased, they are in general just rubbish by normal scientific standards, and blatant rubbish at that.
Wisely, Cofnas did not extend his critique to global warming. But that allegedly "scientific" theory was obviously wrong from its first formulation in the 80s. The theory is that the worldwide expansion of industrialization after WWII led to a great increase in atmospheric CO2 and that that rise in turn caused a rise in the global temperature.
And they were half right. CO2 levels did shoot up steadily in that timeframe. But here is the catch: Temperature levels did not. They plateaued. Over a 30 year period from 1945 to 1975 there was no rise in the global temperature. Temperatures just bobbed up and down around a static average. Temperatures at the end of the period were essentially the same as at the beginning. It would be hard to think of a clearer disproof of the temperature effects of CO2. When Warmists are confronted by that fact they mumble something about "special factors". Special factors that exactly cancelled out rising CO2 effects for 30 years?
Conservatives have long been skeptical of certain scientific claims, especially in regard to the science behind man-made global warming.
However, a study by the University of Oxford suggests that there may be a reason for that. In fact, they go as far as to say that conservatives have a “right” to be skeptical of scientists.
The study “Does activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?” was led by Professor of Biology for the University of Oxford Nathan Confas and was first published online back in 2017. However, the study was brought to light again when it was republished this month in the recent issue of the American Sociologist.
While conservatives’ distrust in scientists has increasingly decreased every year since 1974, there has been little understanding as to why.
The research hits the well-repeated claim that conservatives often dismiss scientific claims because they contradict their religious beliefs. There are some who believe that conservatives throw out these scientific claims because, as Confas and his team note, it “threatens their worldview.”
However, Confas told Campus Reform that this was a “misguided approach.” Additionally, he said that “liberals and conservatives are equally likely to discredit science if it conflicts with their world-view.”
Confas proposed that the reason so many conservatives are skeptical is that there is an increase of liberalism within the scientific community.
He cited a recent study to prove his point. The study surveyed 479 sociology professors, and only 4 percent identified as conservative or libertarian. Compare this with the 86 percent who identify themselves as liberal or left-radical.
Additionally, Confas suggests that goal of sociology “involves reorganizing society to fight inequality, oppression, poverty, hierarchy, and the like. Its ideological orientation arose out of … civil rights, feminism, Marxism, and other progressive movements.”
But it’s not just the area of sociology where this bias is creeping in. UNT professor George Yancy published a piece titled, “Yes Academic Bias is a Problem and We Need to Address It.”
“Given the reality that academics are much more politically progressive and irreligious than the general population, one should be concerned about the potential of liberal and secular bias,” he wrote. “Those like myself are also concerned about academic bias simply because such bias can lead to bad science.”
It’s this “bias” that leads to “bad science” that is concerning to Confas. He told Campus Reform, “Taking the easy route isn’t something that I or my coauthors are tempted to do. We want to do our part to help correct the science.”
He added, “Conservatives are right to be skeptical. Take any politicized issue that is connected to some disagreement about scientific fact. I do not believe there is a single case in the last couple decades where a major scientific organization took a position that went against the platform of the Democratic Party.”