Science denial doesn’t only happen on the right.
We’re seeing from the left a startling rejection of hundreds of years of progress in medicine, in the form of rejecting vaccines.
It’s interesting to chart the origins of these behaviors on the political spectrum.
- Conservatives tend to accept authority and follow rules, but they hate when those rules come from government
- Progressives think government is the answer to many problems, but are also taught to question authority
These two self-contradictory forces are combining in a fascinating way.
On vaccinations, progressives are hearing from celebrities that “the bad authorities” are mandating the consumption of impure and dangerous chemicals, and they’re too stupid to realize that measles are much worse than whatever is in the inoculations.
On climate change, conservatives are hearing from anti-government idiots that “obama” wants to stop them from being proper Americans by putting some regulations in place, so they disregard the overwhelming majority of climate scientists who know it’s for real.
There are two common denominators:
- A lack of belief/understanding in how meaningful it is when 99% of a scientific community agrees on something
- People reject truth when the conclusion disagrees with them
This is ridiculous, and it may be time to counter anti-science with ridicule instead tolerance.
[ UPDATE: It appears that conservatives are actually more likely to reject vaccines, for the same reasons that they accept climate science. So it’s not a left-right thing so much as it’s an anti-science thing, and conservatives are simply more anti-science. ]