American political discourse is full of narratives that become truisms due to nothing more than excessive repetition. A favorite truism of the American left is that their counterparts to the right are "anti-science" or "science deniers". This narrative is regurgitated so frequently that many people accept it as fact. Questioning this "fact" is akin to being a science denier yourself. However, does this narrative stand up to scrutiny? Does scientific logic and reason rest exclusively with the left? I do not believe it does.
The hypocrisy of the progressive narrative that they are the sole purveyor of fact and evidence based policy making is clear in their steadfast denial of the mountain of economic evidence that stands in the way of some of their preferred policies. These pseudo-intellectuals will degrade you for being a "climate denier" one sentence after denying the law of supply and demand. They will scoff at the mere mention of creationism, yet are no less prone to believing in myths like the gender wage gap.
Is economics a science? Some may argue a dismal one, but that is a topic best left for another day. What we are really talking about today is the physical sciences. What becomes clear upon further investigation is that conservatives are not the sole bastion of scientific illiteracy, there is plenty to go around!
One well established fact is that an overwhelming majority of scientists believe that climate change is happening and that man at least somewhat contributes to its severity. This is the issue that is most frequently pointed to when it is claimed that conservatives are the anti-science group. Indeed, it would appear that liberals have a point. Research has consistently shown that conservatives are much more likely to deny that climate change is real or that man contributes to it.
However, whether or not climate change exists or not is a political debate, and a silly one at that. It doesn't take an intellectual giant to simply agree that climate change is happening. Most people agree that our planet is a sphere and orbits the sun, and we aren't lining up to get their input on how to cure cancer any time soon. So if you are of the opinion that climate change is a thing, congratulations. It's time to get off your high horse and join us where the real debate is.
While there is a consensus that climate change is happening, there is a lot more ambiguity in what that actually means. The political narrative is that 97% of scientists agree it's going to be 200 degrees tomorrow and we're all going to die. However, the reality is that there is much debate within the scientific community on just how severe of an impact climate change will actually have.
The reason for this discrepancy is that it is a lot easier to determine what has happened than it is to predict what will happen in the future. That doesn't mean that scientists aren't willing to try. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) develops scenarios in an attempt to determine what could happen based on a certain set of assumptions. These scenarios range from climate change not having much of an impact at all at one extreme to almost a catastrophic apocalypse at the other. The IPCC doesn't have a consensus on which scenario is most likely to occur, nor is there even a consensus on whether or not their scenarios are accurate.
None of this is to say that climate change isn't a problem worth being concerned about, but it does open up room for debate on what should or should not be done to stop it. The real debate should be about the merits of the individual policy proposals, the costs and benefits of them, and whether or not they would have a desirable impact worth the cost inflicted. Denying climate change completely or accusing people of wanting the world to end if they don't adopt every proposed climate measure muddles the seriousness of the actual topic at hand.
Lack of scientifically literate discourse on climate change is not a problem exclusive to conservatives. Disciples of Al Gore are showing us images of polar bears floating to their demise on melted ice caps while claiming 97% of scientists agree this is definitely going to happen. Meanwhile, they actively fight against measures that could and have had a significantly positive impact on our environment. Which leads us to...
Fracking is awesome... seriously. Not only does it offer us greater flexibility in producing our own energy, but it serves as a way of driving down the price of oil pushed by cartels like OPEC. It makes energy more affordable for all of us, which in turn is a huge benefit for the overall economy. However, like all good things, the left wants to destroy it. To do that, they have perpetuated myths with no basis in scientific fact.
Some of the charges levied against fracking are so insane that you would think they originated in one of those crazy chain emails that your elderly uncle still forwards you. One such claim is that fracking causes cancer. Of course, that's not true, as the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine pointed out:
"The total number of cancers observed was close to expected both before drilling began (SIR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99) and after drilling (SIR = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.07) for counties with oil and natural gas wells. Analyses for childhood leukemia were also unremarkable (SIR for leukemia before drilling = 0.97 [95% CI, 0.88 to 1.06]; SIR for leukemia after drilling = 1.01 [95% CI, 0.92 to 1.11]). A slightly elevated SIR was found for central nervous system tumors after drilling (SIR = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.25). This was because of a slight excess in those counties with the fewest number of wells."
Worse yet, these science deniers want to ban fracking even though it is better for the environment and can help slow climate change! Fracking uses 50%
less carbon dioxide than burning coal and has reduced CO2 emissions to pre-1995 levels. I thought the left was going to save the polar bears?
Fracking isn't the only way the scientifically illiterate left is getting in the way of slowing climate change. For years now, they have continued to block the constructions of the...
Keystone XL Pipeline
Keystone XL is an proposed extension of the already existing Keystone Pipeline. Since 2008, the left has continuously blocked efforts to get the project approved for reasons that range from "the Koch brothers are bad people" to "I believe it is bad for the environment because I said so". But is it actually bad for the environment? No!
Indeed, after four reviews the Department of State found minimal environmental risks. Of course, the common retort to this is that even if the pipeline itself has minimal environmental impact, it will increase the usage of fossil fuels. However, Keystone XL or not, these fuels are still going to be transported, but instead of being run through a pipeline with minimal environmental risks, it will be transported on trucks and trains..... burning fossil fuels. Moreover, these methods increase the risks of accidents and spills, which is worse for the environment.
Of course, claiming to be the bastion of logic on climate change while simultaneously derailing legitimate debate on climate change is not the only scientific issue the left can't seem to wrap their head around. We still have...
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO)
In 1900 the population of the world was 1.6 billion. By 2000 it had grown to 6.1 billion. It is estimated that by 2050 the population might grow to more
than 9 billion. In short, that's a lot of mouths to feed. So how do we do it? By mass producing safe food to eat at an affordable price. The only way
to do that is with GMO.
But what good does mass producing cheap food do if it's just going to kill you anyway? With all the rhetoric out there, you would think eating foods with GMO was akin to smoking cigarettes. I would argue that even if it is pretty much the same thing (it's not), wouldn't it be better to eat and die slowly rather than die of starvation? Of course, the claims that GMO are going to slowly kill you are unfounded. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the World Health Organization, GMO are perfectly safe for human consumption. However, if you're of the ilk that can't get behind a scientific consensus, there are multiple studies you can read on the topic that probably won't convince you.
Maybe you just think there should be labels. After all, we have a right to know what goes in our food don't we? Not when it doesn't matter. Does every package come with a label that says "contains water"? Of course not, because water is safe. Research shows that labeling GMO would cause companies to incur a heavy cost in both production and legal fees. All of this for no reason whatsoever.
Additionally, labeling food basically amounts to a warning in the eyes of consumers. If it has to be labeled, the implication is that it might not be safe to eat.... when it is. If you don't think people can get caught up in the hysteria of chemicals they don't understand, check out this Facebook page.
In closing, the aim of this article is not to say that the left or the right is better when it comes to science. It is meant to combat the narrative that only conservatives are science deniers. Both sides of the spectrum have their sacred science cows that need to be slaughtered (sorry vegans, more on you later). Science, like every topic that is politicized in this country, is not debated with facts, but with rhetoric. Opinions on science topics are ruled by predispositions and ideology. Whether you vote Democrat or Republican, you have no special claim to the the party of science.