Atheists Talk: Alex Berezow on “Science Left Behind”


Is it true that progressives are just as anti-science as conservatives? According to Alex Berezow, editor of RealClearScience and associate editor of RealClearReligion, and Hank Campbell, founder of the Science 2.0 network, they are. From the publisher’s description of their book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left:

To listen to most pundits and political writers, evolution, stem cells, and climate change are the only scientific issues worth mentioning—and the only people who are anti-science are conservatives. Yet those on the left have numerous fallacies of their own. Aversion to clean energy programs, basic biological research, and even life-saving vaccines come naturally to many progressives. These are positions supported by little more than junk-science and paranoid thinking.

Now for the first time, science writers Dr. Alex B. Berezow and Hank Campbell have drawn open the curtain on the left’s fear of science. As Science Left Behind reveals, vague inclinations about the wholesomeness of all things natural, the unhealthiness of the unnatural, and many other seductive fallacies have led to an epidemic of misinformation. The results: public health crises, damaging and misguided policies, and worst of all, a new culture war over basic scientific facts—in which the left is just as culpable as the right.

This Sunday, Berezow joins us on Atheists Talk to discuss his book.

Related Links:

Listen to AM 950 KTNF this Sunday at 9 a.m. Central to hear Atheists Talk, produced by Minnesota Atheists. Stream live online. Call in to the studio at 952-946-6205, or send an e-mail to radio@mnatheists.org during the live show. If you miss the live show, listen to the podcast later.

Comments

  1. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Sounds like completely dishonest nonsense. At least in the USA, there is simply no comparison between the anti-science positions taken by elements of the left, and the creationism and AGW denialism that have almost completely captured the supposed mainstream right, the Republican Party.

  2. says

    Perhaps I should note that I’m hosting the show this weekend, which means I ask the questions coming from email, etc. These comments definitely count as etc., if anyone has any (non-rhetorical) questions they want to contribute.

  3. Kevin K says

    I don’t find this surprising at all. Socially liberal doesn’t mean scientifically literate.

    The ultra-liberal free weekly newspaper in my quite liberal little community is chock-a-block full of ads for “healing energies” and other complete and utter nonsensical stuff. And there is the usual “all-natural is better” attitude, never mind that arsenic is an all-natural substance, as is carbon monoxide.

    The difference, I think, lies in the fact that the conservatives rely on a religious justification for their anti-science beliefs, and the liberals are just … well … so open-minded that their brains have spilled all over the floor. Some white-bearded guru says he can live on air — well, we have to live on air, too!

  4. rork says

    I’m extremely left. Let’s admit when elements of the left are wrong though. Concluding whether the right’s crazy is less or more on average doesn’t help anything. Vaccines, GMO issues, fear of smart meters or phones, and regulation of quacks and supplements are serious issues. The supplement politics may be more about the money than ideology though (Hatch is R, but Harkin is D). Who buys the ginko more, I can only guess, but my guess is crunchy people.

    I haven’t read their book, and I can’t get from cheap reviews what their points on H1N1 might be. I will give my opinion that the concern for a bad epidemic was not misplaced – we barely had enough equipment to help the folks who got badly sick. Just a little bit more would have been disastrous. That was almost exactly what expert committees had predicted (I’m thinking of the one that had Eric Lander on it). Most people don’t remember it that way it seems.

  5. says

    Aversion to clean energy programs, basic biological research, and even life-saving vaccines come naturally to many progressives. These are positions supported by little more than junk-science and paranoid thinking.

    But isn’t an awful lot of the paranoid thinking on these topics – especially about clean energy, and to an extent vaccines as well – of a distinctly right-wing nature, seeing “socialist plots” to take over the US everywhere? For clean energy, we have the obvious link with Global Warming, which many on the right still think is part of a government conspiracy to take over the economy. And for vaccines, while a lot of resistance does come from distrust of Big Pharma (about which we could at least debate whether that comes from a left-wing world view), we have also seen how the HPV vaccine for girls has been resisted on the grounds that the government would use it to promote the wrong lifestyle for women. And, you know, it’s all part of the horror that is socialized medicine. Never mind the religious arguments against vaccination, including the religious exemptions that exist. So in what sense are we talking about left-wing resistance against science here?

    And of course, what Nick Gotts said: how can you claim that “the left is just as culpable as the right” when the anti-science on the right is front and center in every political campaign, while the anti-science on the left requires you to look behind the curtain?

  6. leftwingfox says

    The difference, I think, lies in the fact that the conservatives rely on a religious justification for their anti-science beliefs, and the liberals are just … well … so open-minded that their brains have spilled all over the floor.

    I think anti-capitalism has a fair bit to do with it too. It’s one thing to understand that corporations are capable of unethical behaviour; it’s another to assume they are incapable of ethical behaviour.

  7. says

    @leftwingfox:

    I think anti-capitalism has a fair bit to do with it too.

    While anti-capitalism is indeed more of a feature of the left, how many on the left are truly anti-capitalist, rather than merely pro-regulation?

    Also, I would like to add that the idea that the US needs more socialism rather than more capitalism seems to be more evidence-based than the idea that the US is on the brink of becoming a socialist hellhole.

  8. says

    Much of the “Aversion to clean energy programs” I’ve been seeing — especially with regard to utility-scale solar on public lands in the desert — actually has environmentalists on the pro-energy side, and wildlife biologists, botanists, geologists, and engineers on the “hold on a second” side.

    Which isn’t to say there isn’t EMF-phobia running free among a bunch of anti-wind activists.

  9. gwen says

    Oh man, I can’t wait for this. Yes, I do see this more and more. Scientifically progressive doesn’t equal scientifically literate by a long shot! Thank you for putting him on, I will be looking for his book, even though he will be ‘preaching to the choir’!

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