Why Are Conservatives Anti-Science?


It is an interesting question. The answer either is that all conservatives down through time have always opposed science (Theory 1) or that conservative opposition to science is a recent phenomenon and has to do with the fact that science rejects most of the foundational beliefs of conservatism (Theory 2).

I would argue that both are true. Conservatism is based on elitism, and elitism is a philosophy that is hard to justify in any remotely empirical sense. It is very hard to argue that a society in which almost all of the rewards flow to a tiny elite at the top while the rest wallow in the worst misery is the best of all possible worlds. Yet this is the argument of conservatism, always has been and always will be.

Another notion is that conservatism believes in freezing time. Conservatives in general are opposed to change. This is because due to the what I would argue are the rules or laws of history, mankind will always move towards change in a more progressive direction.

Conservatives of course will oppose all such change. In societies that have already moved dramatically forwards, conservatives will try to roll back the hands of time towards their Burkean monarchical dream society or whatever looks like it.

Mankind progresses away from hierarchy and towards relative equality. Conservatism opposes anything remotely representing the slightest of equality and always supports the most backwards and primitive of hierarchical orders. So conservatism in our modern era will always be on the wrong side of the historical process.

What meager gains in makes in rolling back time to their wonder era where niggers knew their place, a man’s home was his castle and women were prim and proper ladies will always be rolled back rather quickly by the inevitable forces of history.

In societies that have moved forwards substantially beyond the primitive order, conservatives will always be reactionaries, trying to roll back the hands of time back to the era where everything was fine and dandy (italicized above).

Science does not believe in remaining in place as scientific knowledge always moves forward, always progresses. Science opposes stagnation and so opposes the very nature of conservatism itself. And of course science is not reactionary. Science does not believe in rolling back modern science and going back to the era of Copernicus and bloodletting and leeches in medicine.

Since science is open minded and ready to reject any theory that is not empirically proven, it’s automatically opposed to conservatism. Conservatism is based on dogmas that are deeply believed but imperfectly proven, if they are proven at all.

The general dogma of conservatism is that conservatism is good for the elite and bad for everyone else. Even in the social sciences, conservative dogma falls flat on its face.

Neoliberalism has a record almost as bad as real existing socialism, yet one is a failed ideology while the other continues to be championed around the globe.

In economic science, it’s long been proven that structural adjustment is bad for 3rd world countries, that the 3rd world debt is unpayable and that trickle down or supply side economics has been proven repeatedly to not work. Instead of learning their lessons, conservatives keep repeating the failed policies of the past.

The economic crash proved that neoliberalism and supply side economics always fails catastrophically, yet the conservative response to the crash was to double down and do the same neoliberalism – supply side theory twice, or five times a much!

It’s been proven that abstinence sex ed doesn’t work, but conservatives push it anyway. Denying women contraceptives will have many ill affects on society, but conservatives push it anyway. All research in pubic health completely rejects conservative theory in medicine (private medicine). Private or capitalist education always fails.

Bilingual education works well, and getting rid of it is harmful to L2 speakers. Cutting back on education makes for a worse society, not a better society. Cutting back on science spending harms society on many levels, including economically.

Global warming is supported by 98% of climate scientists, but conservatives uniformly reject it. In fact, conservatives reject almost all environmental science. Use of antibiotics in factory farms leads to antibiotic resistance, but conservatives don’t believe it. Colony collapse disorder is caused by Bayer’s insecticides, but conservatives so no it isn’t.

The more guns you have, the more crime and gun crime, but conservatives say no. If you don’t fix highways and bridges, they will all start to fall apart, costing the economy terribly and possibly killing motorists. Conservatives say that’s not true.

Much of conservative rejection of science is based on religion. Conservatives don’t believe in evolution, so they reject the entire foundational basis of modern biology and indeed a good part of modern medicine too. Conservatives believe male homosexuality is a lifestyle, while science suggests it is not. They say that therapy changes gay men straight, but science suggests otherwise.

In short, almost nothing that modern conservatives believe, almost none of the dogmas that they hold dear, hold up empirically in the scientific community. Of course scientists themselves increasingly reject the backwards and primitive ideology of conservatism. In 1965, 40% of scientists were Republicans. Now only 8% are.

In the academy, conservatives are quite rare, and ideology and research coming out of our institutions of higher learning increasingly rejects conservatism in most ways. The smarter someone is, the less likely they are to be conservative. Conservative PhD’s are rather rare.

Yet as Edmund Burke, admirer of the French monarchy, fierce critic of Jacobinism and father of modern conservatism himself noted, while not all conservatives are stupid, most stupid people are conservatives. This was true in 1866, and it is still true today. In fact, it is even more true.

What is interesting that the leading force of idiotism, anti-education, anti-science and Know Nothingism in the US is now White men. This group was once the leading edge of a movement called Progressivism in the US. This was the group that freed the slaves, emancipated women, instituted universal education, etc. Now it’s the largest and most fiercely idiotic and deliberately stupid group in the country.




Filed under Biology, Conservatism, Crime, Economics, Environmentalism, Europeans, Global Warming, Government, Health, History, Homosexuality, Medicine, Neoliberalism, Political Science, Politics, Public Health, Race/Ethnicity, Religion, Republicans, Science, Sex, US Politics, Whites

23 responses to “Why Are Conservatives Anti-Science?

  1. Dota

    Robert L:

    “Conservatism is based on elitism,”

    I’m not sure I agree with this at all. Classical Conservatism began as the ideology of the agricultural class. In fact, Liberals have proven themselves to be far more elitist. John Stuart Mill believed that that the average Joe was ‘moderate’ in intellect and called for an elite class to take charge of society. Walter Lipmann considered public opinion a ‘beast’ which needed to be controlled. Conservatives believe in authority, not elitism. Ofcourse this is a textbook definition of conservatism. In reality, Liberals and Conservatives both serve the same masters.

    • “John Stuart Mill believed that that the average Joe was ‘moderate’ in intellect and called for an elite class to take charge of society. ”
      Is it any more elitist than your average opinionated Joe who believes that his ‘experience’ within his limited purview puts him in a far better position to theorise on how the world works, rather than the “undersity educated idiot, John Stuart”?

      Conservatives are elitists, not just about their opinions, social choices and political posturing but also about their lack of education and intellect as well. A lot of rich conservatives think that money should be a better marker of status and credibility than experience or intellect. If that isn’t elitist, I don’t know what is.

  2. WmarkW

    I think Conservatism is a bigger tent than Robert is giving credit for. Rick Santorum would be sweeping to the nomination if every conservative held Alabama up as their model for society. But the Republican party hasn’t historically nominated Presidential candidates of that leaning. John McCain, GWB as of 2000, Robert Dole and GHWB; are not Newt Gingrich, John Ashcroft and Jesse Helms.

    There hasn’t really been a knowledge economy until 100 years ago, in which an educated labor force was superior to one that simply worked as cheaply as possible. Marx in 1848 was accurately describing the political environment of his time, in which profits accrued to capital ownership who primarily political goal was to keep labor costs down. Than changed over the next 100 years to create the more equitable labor market starting in the mid-20th century. Some conservatives welcomed how the stable incomes of that period encouraged a record marriage rate and baby boom, evidence of committed family and community life.

    New York City has not elected a Democratic mayor since David Dinkins oversaw the Crown Heights riots. Mitt Romney, of course, as governor of Massachusetts oversaw the creation of a state-wide health care plan. Business groups often complain about the poor quality of science education in our school system. Reasonable conservatism doesn’t get the publicity it deserves.

  3. Dorraine Fisher

    Oh, Robert! You’re a great guy, but this is no more correct than it is for a conservative to say that all liberals are communist, atheist, vegans. You’ve pigeonholed every conservative into the extreme category. You can’t make a fair assessment of everyone in a group if you start out with incorrect assumptions. I’m not conservative, but I have some conservative views and I have a pretty high IQ, if you’re looking for scientific statistics. Everyone can dig up some “logic” to back up their ideology, but self-righteousness rules over everyone, liberal or conservative, who uses this unreliable process to judge any group of people.

  4. Shawn

    I’ll point out that a lot of liberals are anti-science as well. For example, there is a ton of scientific information that supports HBD, but liberals refuse to believe it.

  5. baloocartoons

    Not me, Robert. I’m sciency as all hell, and spend a lot of time ranting against anti-science liberals. What you say is true, of course, of some people who call themselves conservatives.

  6. Pingback: Being a Good Conservative and Understanding Oil « A Little Tour in Yellow

  7. DD

    why are who anti-science???

  8. Todd

    Almost nobody understands science. Barely any professors or scientists even understand it. They conflate science with truth when science is really only a matter of forming theories based on observation. The strongest statement in science is a theory, not a law. Once you call something truth, it becomes permanent whereas scientific theory must always be open to change and revision. Government power or any central authority is also opposed to science and scientific method. Science must be distributed, evaluated by the gray matter of all people, not commanded and enforced though brute force. Authority always clashes with science because they are opposite in nature. It has nothing to do with conservatism or liberalism, not in any political sense, because both groups are power based and use violence to enforce their desires.

    P.S. My avatar looks like its from an Atari porn game.

    • Gay State Girl

      You from the Occidental Observer?

    • etype

      Todd, extremely well said. Thank you for commenting. I’ve tried to explain something similar, in my inarticulate way as; ‘everything is wrong, all we have are the indications of truth and not the truth itself – anywhere. This is called reality.’
      Which was never understood by anyone, much less those convinced they have cornered truth. Your comment is one the best explanations of reality I’ve read in a long time. Thanks again.

  9. Do you think blacks and hispanics (generally vote democrat) have a higher scientific literacy than conservatives?

    • We are not interested in scientific literacy. We are interested in the degree to which educated groups are familiar with scientific findings but instead choose to reject them. This phenomenon is in blatant and full force with conservatives. In fact, the more educated a conservative is, the more he blatantly rejects scientific findings.

      I am not aware that Hispanics and Blacks are aware of certain scientific findings but instead choose to blatantly reject them. Those Hispanics and Blacks who are aware of global warming for instance, I am sure, tend to accept the findings by very high percentages.

      Can you show me some examples of Hispanics and Blacks being aware of some scientific finding but then rejecting its conclusions?

      • Dr.Pell

        There is absolutely no proof of global warming and even the founder of the Weather channel says it doesn’t exist. But the real question is not only whether the climate is changing but if it’s due to humans. If it’s just a slow change whether hotter or colder there’s noting we can do anyway if it’s just natural or caused by sun spot activity etc. but there’s no proof of anything at this time. If thereis gradual natural climate change then it will likely harm certain areas and be beneficial to other areas. The problem with unscientific Liberals is that they want people to believe that man is effecting the climate and want to impose restrictions on places like the US while completely ignoring the really big pollutors like India and China. You can be sure that this is some liberal scam and that thereis some big money to be made on this global warming hoax. I’m not a liberal or conservative but to believe that somehow the conservatives are all dummies and the liberals educated is absurd. There are dumb people in both groups each in their own way.

        • Larry S

          Dr. Pell, your comment is excellent evidence that Mr. Lindsay’s thesis is correct. Despite your assertion that you are neither liberal or conservative, your screed about global warming matches exactly with prevailing, head-in-the-sand conservative views on the subject. As is your opinion that the US is not a “really big polluter.” (While it is true that China has recently become a worse contributor of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere than the US, we’re still number 2, spewing out more than twice as much annually than India.) In short, you believe exactly what you want to believe, in the face of ample, definitive evidence to the contrary. Game and match to Mr. Lindsay.

        • Yay Larry! Welcome to the site!

  10. Steve

    Great article but it especially applies to American conservatives, who seem to be particularly stupid and anti-science. Evolution and anthropogenic global warming are pretty much accepted in Britain. Nobody in public life really expresses disagreement with these things. Evolution is never even talked about. Its just a done deal.

  11. Stephen Graham

    I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
    John Stuart Mill, (not Edmund Burke as indicated above) in a Parliamentary debate with the Conservative MP, John Pakington (May 31, 1866); this seems to have become paraphrased as “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” which was a variant published in Quotations for Our Time (1978), edited by Laurence J. Peter.

  12. asdsadasd

    I think conservatives in USA have higher IQ than liberals, even though they are anti-science sometimes.

    • I believe it has actually been proven that on average US liberals are more intelligent than US conservatives. Of course that has always been obvious to us progressive folks.

      • asdsadasd

        I doubt that, since most conservatives/republicans in USA are whites when liberals usually have more blacks etc..too.

        Even though in universities most people are liberals, it dont mean that liberal`s average IQ would be higher than conservatives.

        For example mormons have pretty high average IQ even though they are pretty conservative.

        • Homer Simpson

          Not all liberals are jews, but the majority of jews are progressive/liberal or left of center. Jews have the highest average I.Q. levels than any other ethnicity, or race. But they still tend to be successful in business,most of all on wall street & the entertainment fields. but as often as not though, they also have a high disposition for white collar crime, @ least certain jews do. Or maybe they happen to be more socially liberal than economically liberal nowadays. IDK!

        • Liberals are liberal on both economics and social views. The economic liberalism is not expected as it goes against what you would expect based on their class position.

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