Raising the Standard at UGA since 2013.

Are Conservatives “Anti-Science”?

The New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accuses conservatives of being “anti-science”
Photo from the Center for American Progress

A weekly column by Ross Dubberly

“[T]hanks to Trump’s electoral victory, know-nothing, anti-science conservatives are now running the U.S. government,” wrote the New York Times’ chief hysteric, Paul Krugman, in a recent column. Krugman concluded that particular piece with the following gem:

"The bottom line is that we are now ruled by people who are completely alienated not just from the scientific community, but from the scientific idea--the notion that objective assessment of evidence is the way to understand the world."

So what are we to make of the charge that conservatives are “anti-science”? Is conservatism incompatible with science, reason, and empiricism as the Left so frequently asserts? I think it is safe to say that we can add this charge to the Left’s seemingly infinite repertoire of puerile, one-word dismissals of their opponents.

The Left calls their opponents “anti-science,” for one, because it further inflates their already stupendous self-esteem. And if there is one yearning on the Left that even comes close to their primary yearning for purpose and meaning, it is their insatiable appetite to feel morally superior.

The “anti-science” indictment of conservatives is almost laughable. And, contrary to the idiocy that conservatives are “alienated…from the scientific idea,” to use Krugman’s phrase, if anyone is “anti-science,” it is the Left.

The very people who say that conservatives are “anti-science” are the same people who simultaneously assert that a person with a penis can be a woman if that person simply thinks himself (herself?) so.

These are the same people who deplore fracking--a method of oil and natural gas extraction that has allowed the United States to become less dependent on foreign oil and has drastically reduced the price we pay at the pump--despite study after study after study revealing that its adverse effects on the environment are negligible to nil.

And these are the same people who practically hyperventilate at the thought of a world where e-cigarettes are not regulated to the same extent as mustard gas. After all, without strict regulations, what is to prevent the water vapor in e-cigarettes from killing us all? (Thankfully, we have the always wary Elizabeth Warren in the U.S. Senate to protect us from the toxicity of water.) Yet they condescendingly snarl that pot is just a plant, a medical godsend, as it happens. Who knows, perhaps FDR could have staved off polio had he puffed the magic dragon more often. (Although, judging by the New Deal, I am not so sure that FDR did abstain from the act).

But we on the Right are “anti-science”? One could choke on the mendacity. Lack of self-awareness is certainly a defining characteristic of the Left, as evidenced by the previous examples, but, in my judgment, there is a deeper, more compelling explanation to their charge.

What readers must understand in order to understand the Left is that nothing is sacred (in the religious or secular sense). Nothing--not education, not journalism, not religion, not sports, and certainly not science--is off-limits, as it were; i.e., nothing is too sanctified to be politicized.

Understanding that the way the Left looks upon society’s institutions is entirely different from the way conservatives do is the sine qua non to understanding the Left’s politicization of science. To the Left, science is merely a tool; and as such, it is to be used to build the road to a “progressive” Paradise.

The adjective “scientific” carries serious weight; it indicates truth, thereby placing the data, theory, or idea that it describes beyond debate. That is powerful; and the Left knows it. But unlike the Right, the Left does not revere that power and believe science’s independence from politics is a necessity; on the contrary, the Left looks at science and sees yet another vehicle to further their agenda.

Therefore, to differ with Paul Krugman on the capability of the State to reverse global warming is not to simply disagree with him; it is to be “anti-science.”

The conservative position is simply that science says the globe is warming; Paul Krugman and the Left’s position, on the other hand, is that “science” says that the globe is warming and therefore the State is to intervene and fix it. What the Left does not understand, however, is that the moment science becomes imbibed with political judgments, it is, ex vi termini, no longer science. And, unfortunately, thanks to the Left, this is the level to which some of our scientific fields have sunk, the most notable, of course, being climate science. That is to say, many of the scientists within such fields have now become more consumed with political advocacy than actual science.

By and large, it is not we on the Right who are “anti-science” (that I must devote ink to this is such an absurdity in itself); on the contrary, it is our dear fellow citizens of the Left who appear to be anti-science. For if science gives them an answer that conflicts with their political superstitions, then they simply tinker with their data, their rhetoric, or both. More important, however, are the consequences of Leftism’s theological takeover of the sciences.

Science is science and ideology is ideology; and slapping the label “scientific” on an ideology--as Marxists would come to learn--does not, eo ipso, make that ideology Divinely inspired Truth. It does, however, do an inordinate amount of damage to the institution of science and the public perception of it. Which is exactly what has happened. But, rest assured, such effects do not keep Paul Krugman up at night.

—Ross Dubberly is the Book Editor at The Arch Conservative
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