The majority of scientists in the U.S. fall to one side of the political spectrum: Democrat. That’s not good for science, said science scholar Daniel Sarewitz.
In an article that appeared this week in the online journal Slate, Sarewitz expressed concern at political imbalance among scientists. He cited a 2009 Pew Research Center Poll, writing, “Only around 6 percent of U.S. scientists are Republicans; 55 percent are Democrats, 32 percent are independent, and the rest ‘don’t know’ their affiliation.”
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Sarewitz, while not choosing political sides, argued that the political imbalance among scientists is, itself, having negative consequences on science. Politics equals funding, and access to institutional change.
He concluded, “As a first step, leaders of the scientific community should be willing to investigate and discuss the issue. ..In lieu of any real effort to understand and grapple with the politics of science, we can expect calls for more ‘science literacy’ as public confidence begins to wane. But the issue here is legitimacy, not literacy. A democratic society needs Republican scientists.”
Science scholar Daniel Sarewitz wrote this in Slate in December 2010, airing his concern over an imbalance in the political affiliation of scientists. His article was prompted by President Obama’s December 2010 appearance on the popular science program Mythbusters.
Beth Lebwohl researches, writes and helps produce science content in audio and video formats for EarthSky. She is one of the authors on EarthSky.org, a script-writer for our podcasts, and helps host our English science podcasts in 90-second, 8-minute and 22-minute formats. Beth came to EarthSky in 2006 from the American Museum of Natural History's Department of Astrophysics, where she was surrounded by some of the greatest telescope-building, equation-wielding, code-writing physicists of our time. And they made her think . . . this science thing . . . it's pretty cool.