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Article Title: Do Conservatives Have a Monopoly on Antiscientific Thinking?


Article Summary

This article focuses on the psychological thought process of conservative and liberal politicians about science and the how they believe in their opinions more rather than hard scientific facts.

The author starts with how trump administration especially emphasising on Scott Pruitt ( director of the Environmental Protection Agency) along with 85 percent of conservative Republicans who deny the evidence that humans have anything to do with climate change. He also states that Climate change is not the only topic on which conservative Americans clash with scientific evidence whereas the majority of liberals accept the strong scientific consensus that humans evolved due to natural processes, only 21 percent of conservatives do and have posted various verbal accusations to prove themselves right .

The author states the writings of political psychologists Anthony Washburn and Linda Skitka to explain the conservative rejection of evidence from environmental science and evolutionary biology. These writers consider them two very different possibilities. The first one is asymmetrical ideological motivation, which is the idea that conservatives have traits that lead them to be more dispositionally distrustful of scientific evidence than are liberals and secondly, symmetrical ideological motivation, which believes that people on the left and the right are both motivated to reject evidence inconsistent with their ideologies. The writers further explain their stance through examples.

To confirm their alternate ideas these writers did an exercise with the help of both conservative and liberal political groups. This exercise was such that the findings of topic were presented in such a way that a quick glance would favor one side of the issue, but a more careful consideration would support the other. The results indicated that both liberals and conservatives were similarly biased in their processing of the scientific findings.  If a quick glance suggested support for their side, they looked no further, but if the absolute numbers didn’t look right for their position, they thought a little more carefully, and looked at the ratios.  And if they were later told that the results supported the other side, both liberals and conservatives were more skeptical of the scientists themselves.

Thus, the author concludes that scientific findings are often complex and hard to follow, but when the evidence does suggest a clear answer, it pays to think carefully, and put our ideological biases to the side. But this definitely does not mean we should trust politicians believe as much as we do of scientists. Scientists have the virtue of being sceptical and getting to the root cause for ever issue but Politicians, unlike scientists, are in the business of exploiting their supporter’s ideological biases, and often have little regard for factual evidence. Thus, facts are the main basis on which judgements should be made.

Article Link: Click here to read the full article


Words to Learn from this article:

Credentials: a qualification, achievement, quality, or aspect of a person’s background, especially when used to indicate their suitability for something

Consensus: a general agreement

Asymmetrical: having parts which fail to correspond to one another in shape, size, or arrangement; lacking symmetry

Symmetrical: made up of exactly similar parts facing each other or around an axis; showing symmetry

Skeptical: not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations

Hypothetical: supposed but not necessarily real or true


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