Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Science Political

This little blog-ditty titled Intellectual Diversity at Stanford has been well-linked, and it's quite clever. Here's the opening, but click through since it's funny and not long:
A shocking recent study has discovered that only 13% of Stanford professors are Republicans. The authors compare this to the 51% of 2004 voters who selected a Republican for President and argue this is “evidence of discrimination” and that “academic Republicans are being eradicated by academic Democrats”.

Scary as this is, my preliminary research has discovered some even more shocking facts. I have found that only 1% of Stanford professors believe in telepathy (defined as “communication between minds without using the traditional five senses”), compared with 36% of the general population. And less than half a percent believe “people on this earth are sometimes possessed by the devil”, compared with 49% of those outside the ivory tower. And while 25% of Americans believe in astrology (“the position of the stars and planets can affect people’s lives”), I could only find one Stanford professor who would agree. (All numbers are from mainstream polls, as reported by Sokal.)
That funny post resonated with this one I saw at Unfogged. While discussing his observations about the differences between humanities and social science people versus hard science people, Bob tosses this off:
When right-wing blowhards get all bunched up over the radicals on the tenure track, generally they're not referring to chemistry departments. Yes, every natural-scientist I know is hard-left as far as electoral politics go.
While I don't consort with academics that much anymore, I've found that true. Mathematicians, physicists, chemists are generally quite left, while those in the life sciences (biology, zoology, botany) are reliably progressive, too. [Computer science, which is arguably not a hard science, seems to have a bit higher ratio of conservatives.]

Even most scientists who have punctured some categories of leftists are generally very progressive. Physicist Alan Sokal (parenthetically mentioned in the first link above) who gave such a kick to the "academic left" with his hilarious Sokal Affair, is himself a leftist. Biologist Paul Gross and Mathematician Norman Levitt, the authors of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels With Science, reveal in the book that they are pretty hardcore lefties, too.

These leftwing scientists and others are doing a great service to the left by trying to drive sloppy thinking, outright falsehoods, and superstitious tendencies from some doctrinaire leftists. I'm sure they gave some aid and comfort to conservatives who use their works to make fun of the "pomo" academic lefties, but sometimes the truth hurts.

Lefties criticizing lefties. That's something I've been noticing recently. Maybe I'll post about it sometime.

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