Uh oh – batten down the hatches. Board up the windows, hide all the knives, tie down everything loose. Michael Shermer tweets
Chris Mooney takes issue with my claim that there’s a liberal war on science: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/03/theres-no-such-thing-liberal-war-science …
So in a few minutes there will be a 5000 word piece up at eSkeptic, right? Ripping Mooney a new orifice and calling him a Nazi McCarthyite witch-hunting inquisitor? Right? Because it’s not permitted to take issue with a claim of Michael Shermer’s?
A small sample:
Shermer’s article ends with a statement that, as far as I can tell, is just incorrect: “Surveys show that moderate liberals and conservatives embrace science roughly equally,” he writes. I’m not sure where he gets this, but for a direct rebuttal let me point you to a recent study in the American Sociological Review by Gordon Gauchat, which finds that unlike liberals or moderates, conservatives have lost trust in science rather precipitously over the past several decades.
None of this should be surprising. As I argued on The Agenda, it’s no accident that conservatives have more problems with science than do liberals. It’s part of their personality and who they are. We know, from decades of psychological research, that conservatives are less open to new ideas and experiences, and have a higher need for cognitive closure—the desire to have fixed beliefs and certainties that are unchanging. So of course they find a dynamic force like science, which excels at upsetting the applecart, to be threatening. That oft cited statistic about only 6 percent of American Association for the Advancement of Science members being Republicans—get over it already. It’s not remotely surprising.
That’s a small sample. The whole piece is about Shermer and his wrongness! Most of my column that criticized Shermer’s sexist claim was about something else, not Shermer and his wrongness (or his sexist claim) at all. So that means Shermer will write about 20,000 words calling Mooney a Nazi etcetera, right?
Or not. Any bets? I’m betting he won’t. Why? Because Mooney wrote a best-seller, and he writes for major media, and he’s a guy. Shermer sees him as an equal. I’m betting he won’t respond that way to someone he sees as an equal. I think he felt free to respond to me the way he did because I don’t have anywhere near the clout that Mooney has, so responding to me that way seemed safe. I don’t mean I think he thought about it in those words, but I think he felt comfortable writing about me the way he did, and I strongly suspect he would not feel comfortable writing about Mooney that way, and I think those are the reasons. Mooney is an insider and a colleague, and I’m not, so calling Mooney ludicrously hyperbolic names would be awkward while calling me them would not. Mooney is a guy, and I’m not, so calling Mooney ludicrously hyperbolic names would be awkward while calling me them would not. I don’t know that; it’s an interpretation; but we know I’m factually correct about at least one part of it: Shermer did call me those ludicrously hyperbolic names.