Oxford: “Conservatives are right to be skeptical of scientific establishments”

by Toni Airaksinen

  • Researchers from the University of Oxford say conservative skepticism of scientific establishments is largely justified, given the prevalence of left-leaning “scholar activism” in fields like sociology and political science.
  • Nathan Confas and his team argue that conservatives are primarily opposed to so-called “impact scientists” who conduct research with the explicit purpose of advancing liberal policy goals.

A new study by University of Oxford researchers suggests conservatives are right to be skeptical of scientific establishments, given the history of “scholar activism” in fields like sociology and political science.

Led by Nathan Confas, the study “Does Activism in the Social Sciences Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?” can be found in the recent issue of the American Sociologist, a special edition dedicated to ideological diversity and conservative issues.

The study takes aim at the oft-repeated claim that conservatives distrust science because they find it threatening to their religious worldview, and the insinuation that religious conservatives align with a backwards, regressive approach towards science.

Research confirms that every decade since 1974, conservatives’ trust in scientists has decreased. But little has been done to explore why. Some suggest that conservatives are less likely to accept data that “threatens their worldview,” note Confas and his team.

But Confas told Campus Reform that this is a misguided approach. If anything, he said, published research indicates that liberals and conservatives are equally likely to discredit science if it conflicts with their world-view, citing studies such as this one and this one.

Confas and his research team propose a different explanation. They suggest that increasing levels of skepticism towards scientific institutions is partly a reaction to the politicization—namely, the liberalization—of these institutions.

The distrust is not driven by all scientists, but rather by what Confas and his team refer to as “impact scientists.” These are researchers, typically working in the social sciences and environmental science, who often conduct research with the stated goal of raising awareness of left-liberal issues, or acceptance of left-liberal policy solutions.

“There is a strong possibility that conservatives are not opposed to, or skeptical of, science per se. Rather, they lack trust in impact scientists whom they see as seeking in influence policy in a liberal direction,” explains Confas.

He points to the field of sociology as an example. A recent study surveying 479 sociology professors discovered that only 4 percent identify as conservative or libertarian, while 86 percent identify as liberal or left-radical.


The unstated goal of sociology, Confas suggests, “involves reorganizing society to fight inequality, oppression, poverty, hierarchy, and the like. Its ideological orientation arose out of…civil rights, feminism, Marxism, and other progressive movements.”

Most sociologists would claim, in good faith, to be objective. But emerging research suggests that the political slant in the field is corrupting objectivity, due to a variety of issues including confirmation bias and scholar-activism in the field.

“Taking the easy route isn’t something that I or my coauthors are tempted to do. We want to do our part to help correct the science,” Confas told Campus Reform.

“Conservatives are right to be skeptical,” he added.

Full story here

The paper:

Does Activism in Social Science Explain Conservatives’ Distrust of Scientists?

Nathan Cofnas, Noah Carl, Michael A. Woodley


Data from the General Social Survey suggest that conservatives have be
come less trustful of scientists since the 1970s. Gauchat argues that this is because
conservatives increasingly see scientific findings as threatening to their worldview.
However, the General Social Survey data concern trust in scientists, not in science. We
suggest that conservatives diminishing trust in scientists reflects the fact that scientists
in certain fields, particularly social science, have increasingly adopted a liberal-activist
stance, seeking to influence public policy in a liberal direction.
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August 9, 2018 2:58 pm

Every once in a while a blind squirrel finds a nut!

John Darrow
Reply to  Paul
August 9, 2018 4:06 pm

Most often one his own

Ron Long
Reply to  Paul
August 9, 2018 5:35 pm

Paul, that’s because they use their nose. You’re a city boy, right?

Reply to  Ron Long
August 10, 2018 8:59 am

Besides the minor fact that blind squirrels are rare critters.

Likely caused by squirrels, in their food pyramid position as food for many predators, where blindness is a terminal condition when trying to avoid predators.

Reply to  Paul
August 10, 2018 12:02 pm

There’s some good damning information in the paper. Here’s one I like that is an excellent example of actual science!:

“he had delayed publishing his research until he could develop proposals to compensate for the negative effects of diversity.^ In his words, it “would have been irresponsible to publish without that” (Lloyd 2006). So he refrained from publishing empirical findings that contradicted a key tenet of contemporary liberalism (diversity is a strength) until he could think up a way to make it politically palatable to liberals.”

You can bet ANYTHING that climate ‘scientists’ these days carefully word their findings to give skeptics as little ammo as possible. Heck, there are even seminars and classes on how to communicate climate change. Why? Because leftists are leveraging ‘solutions’ to climate change to push their leftist agenda up our dems. They are yearning for a global socialist one world utopia. ‘Solutions’ to AGW is a huge trojan horse on getting them to their promised land.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  kramer
August 11, 2018 8:25 am

Climategate emails show that happening.

August 9, 2018 3:00 pm

Not that social “scientists” are actually any such thing. Simply socialists.

Drop “scient” in the middle.

Reply to  Theo
August 9, 2018 3:11 pm

Social “scientists” are activists not necessarily socialists.

But they are not scientists. As they seek evidence to support their ideas.
Rather than evidence to challenge their ideas.

Reply to  MCourtney
August 9, 2018 3:33 pm

Except for the odd economist or psychologist, the vast majority of social “scientists”, ie sociologists, cultural anthropologists, etc., are socialists or even farther Left.

Most “disciplines” have been taken over by Marxists.

Note the abuse heaped upon Jordan Peterson, a psychologist who dares to stray from the academic fold.

David Blackall
Reply to  Theo
August 9, 2018 4:29 pm

True that.

Reply to  MCourtney
August 9, 2018 4:04 pm

Not all socialists are activists.
However pretty much all of the activists are socialists.

Reply to  MarkW
August 9, 2018 11:49 pm

“However pretty much all of the activists are socialists.”

Gee, I didn’t know the Koch brothers were socialists. Thanks for clarifying that.

Reply to  Chris
August 10, 2018 12:10 am

You speak as if they were major funders of something. They barely make the “Top 10”.

Joel Snider
Reply to  JohnB
August 10, 2018 8:37 am

They don’t make the top fifty.

Reply to  Chris
August 10, 2018 4:08 am

I think you’re confusing them with Scoros.

Reply to  Hivemind
August 10, 2018 7:46 am

Or perhaps Soros?

Reply to  Chris
August 10, 2018 7:45 am

Funding groups you don’t like makes one an activist.

Mighty flexible definitions you got there. Again.

PS: Chris qualifies as yet another person who doesn’t understand the difference between most and all.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Chris
August 10, 2018 8:39 am

I love the way Progressives live in stereotypes. They create them, and then act as if they’re real.
The Koch brothers are simply status-quo swamp creatures.
They sure aren’t Trump fans.

Bill Powers
Reply to  MarkW
August 19, 2018 9:34 am

The fundamental problem with activists, socialists and Sociologists for that matter is they have entirely too much time on their hands.

Reply to  MCourtney
August 10, 2018 8:09 am

“…they are not scientists. As they seek evidence to support their ideas.
Rather than evidence to challenge their ideas.”

Ding! Ding! Ding! We got a WINNAH!

Russ Wood
Reply to  MCourtney
August 11, 2018 7:08 am

Thomas Sowell: “Next time an academic lectures you on the importance of diversity, ask him how many conservatives there are in his Sociology department”.

David Blackall
Reply to  Theo
August 9, 2018 4:27 pm

The study examines conservatives’ distrust of science. In 1986 when I first encountered Postmodernism, it was the Left that distrusted science, abhorred war, and stimulated feminism. Now, the first two of these are in fact supported by the Left (note Clinton and Obama). The study assumes that conservatives find science threatening to their religious worldview, which is to assume they are fixed and religious. There is the insinuation that religious conservatives align with a backward, regressive approach towards science. I would argue that the idea of ‘conservative’ is being misread. In 1986, when I first encountered Postmodernism, the colleagues in my seminars at the University of Technology in Sydney were leftists who were suspicious of the hard sciences like geology, which I was teaching at the time. They saw such science as dominated by conservative men, rigid in their ideas, oppressing women, constructing realities to sure up their worldview and so on and so forth. Such Leftists knew nothing about scientific method, its rigor, or the necessity of the reproducibility of scientific experiments.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  David Blackall
August 9, 2018 6:44 pm

Communism is a religion of irreligion. Such a thing has never existed in human history before. Scientific findings are threatening the world view, the canonical view, of the extreme left, and they are struggling to retain their grip on the narrative about what constitutes ‘progress’. A mortal ideology that is well over a century old is tottering. The manifestations of it are ossification and extremism, radical plans to take power and have ‘experts’ run the world, not bothering with these silly elections. It will be interesting to watch, if somewhat painful.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  David Blackall
August 9, 2018 6:50 pm

” leftists who were suspicious of the hard sciences like geology,”

How can anyone be suspicious of geology? 🙂

David Chappell
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 9, 2018 8:56 pm

A creationist?

Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 10, 2018 1:27 am

Honestly, and hopefully not to offend anyone, as a young person I saw Geology as a soft science, like Biology, mainly for stone collectors rather than butterfly collectors. Collectors, sorters and describers. The best geologist was the guy who’d seen the most rocks. Evidence gathered and explained. Whereas Physics and Chemistry were hard – based on designed experiments, hypothesis falsification and the clean sharp philosophy of science descibed by Karl Popper. But I guess times change, and Geology and Biology have firmed while physics wandered down the soft avenues of strings and dark matter.

Sceptical lefty
Reply to  Jay
August 10, 2018 2:03 am

Have an up-vote! The only really ‘hard’ sciences are those with “Engineering” in their descriptions. These are strictly empirical and their practitioners can suffer severe penalties for errors. Bullshit is not tolerated.

Most other sciences — including Geology — make do with limited evidence, a lot of inferential reasoning and a small bunch of doyens at the top who control the consensus and see that heretics are given very short shrift, indeed. A classic Geology example would be Wegener’s theory of continental drift, which was originally rubbish and is now unchallengeable.

While I admire your diplomatic opening, when you are seriously attempting to get at the truth you cannot afford to be too considerate of others’ feelings. No-one, particularly a doyen, likes being told he’s wrong.

Your final comment on Physics could not be more (regrettably) true!

Reply to  Sceptical lefty
August 12, 2018 3:49 am

From my point of view and experience, it is not so much engineering/else but science/academia (btw, both could be done at university though it is more difficult to do science obviously). I have seen bad engineering as much as I have seen good “soft science”; but I very rarely seen good academic work because (you got that part right) there is barely any responsibility involved (on the contrary BS is often encouraged!).

the images below nail it pretty well I think
comment image


Solomon Green
Reply to  Jay
August 11, 2018 6:07 am

When I was at school biology was, I believed, a soft science.
But since engineers have invented and produced instruments such as the electron microscope and the Xray diffractor monitor, biology allied to both chemistry and physics in the form of molecular biology is certainly not a soft science.

Mike Macray
Reply to  Tom Abbott
August 13, 2018 3:26 am

How can anyone be suspicious of geology? 🙂

Gotta be dumber than a rock!

Reply to  David Blackall
August 10, 2018 9:38 am

to David Blackall, who wrote:
“There is the insinuation that religious conservatives
align with a backward, regressive approach towards science.
I would argue that the idea of ‘conservative’ is being misread.”

I was a liberal in the late 1960s and early 1970s
when liberals did not trust governments.
Then they reversed, and loved governments,
and I was gone !

As a lifelong atheist, and a libertarian since about 1975,
I don’t believe in a god, because there is no evidence,
but I do believe CO2 is beneficial, not dangerous,
because of the scientific evidence.

Concerning CO2, my first question is:
“What science is there to believe in?”

The only real science is lab experiments
demonstrating that CO2 acts as a
greenhouse gas in a laboratory.

After that real science, comes assumption
on top of assumption, and then speculation about
a water vapor positive feedback NOT seen
in any temperature measurements.

I don’t have a skeptical climate change blog
because I distrust science — I started the blog
because there is NO SCIENCE behind the claim
that adding CO2 to the air is dangerous.

… while there are thousands of real scientific
experiments showing adding CO2 to the air
is accelerating C3 food crop growth,
a great benefit for people and animals
who eats those plants, and something
that greenhouse owners
have known about for decades!

My climate blog:

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Theo
August 9, 2018 7:49 pm

Social pseudo-scientist is the correct term I believe.

Mark Pawelek
Reply to  Theo
August 10, 2018 1:44 am

Socialists who attended at least one statistics course.

Bruce of Newcastle
August 9, 2018 3:01 pm

Steven Hayward has a fine article today which fits very well this topic, even though it is addressing the recent Steffen/Schellnhuber thermageddon paper:

Make Socialism Scientific Again!

August 9, 2018 3:02 pm

In a nutshell, Liberals’ confirmation bias means they can’t spot that they’re being fed warm bull.

Dave Bidwell
August 9, 2018 3:03 pm

Researchers from the University of Oxford say conservative skepticism of scientific establishments is largely justified, given the prevalence of left-leaning “scholar activism” in fields like sociology and political science..
…the media (this fine website excluded), popular culture, etc…

John West
August 9, 2018 3:04 pm

“There is a strong possibility that conservatives are not opposed to, or skeptical of, science per se. Rather, they lack trust in impact scientists whom they see as seeking in influence policy in a liberal direction,”

Almost. Activists doing “research” to support a conclusion whether it be for the right, left, up, down, or sideways isn’t science and therefore not regarded as such.

Curious George
Reply to  John West
August 9, 2018 3:30 pm

Conservatives are using their brains. That’s their problem, and it has nothing to do with science. Modern science consists of a repetition of a 97% mantra.

Reply to  John West
August 9, 2018 6:11 pm

Excellent point.

michael hart
Reply to  John West
August 11, 2018 6:48 am

“Impact scientists” are almost without fail always looking for bad impacts and to create new coercive laws.
I chose science out of a desire to make/do something useful, not a desire to tell other people what to do or to tell them how they should lead their lives.

Alan Tomalty
August 9, 2018 3:06 pm

When alarmists question me that I ‘m on the wrong side of the debate over global warming, I point to the fact that I don’t subscribe to any of the more than 1000 conspiracy theories on the internet. Those are for kooks and each one has a very small % base of believers which doesn’t increase over time. However the ozone and global warming hoaxes are believed by the majority of the population. The other difference is that as time goes on the number of believers goes down and the number of skeptics is growing. All polls show that every month there are more and more skeptics. Even though science is not a democracy, it make take a majority % which are skeptics before these hoaxes are stopped.

Reply to  Alan Tomalty
August 12, 2018 4:43 pm

Paraphrasing: “People go mad in crowds, but regain their sanity one-by-one”

Ron Long
August 9, 2018 3:07 pm

I am really tired of reading and hearing that conservatives are possessed by regressive religion. This is a slander from the left that is simply discriminatory in that conservatives have a wide spectrum of views. The Columbia University thinks Social Scientists are scientists? With Marxism as one of the pillars of their science? This confirms my own bias that Columbia is filled with pretentious people, like one of their famous graduates I’m thinking of. Just saying. There, I feel better.

Reply to  Ron Long
August 9, 2018 4:08 pm

Liberals find it incomprehensible that anyone would disagree with them.
So they invent all kinds of boogeymen to explain continued opposition to their attempts to create heaven on earth.

Reply to  MarkW
August 9, 2018 5:31 pm

that’s not it. what you are seeing is a classic conflict of a mind turned against itself.
because of moral relativism they’ve accepted as a core belief, it is considered axiomatic that nothing can be known with any certainty at all.
therefore, by simplest logic, they know they are incompetent to make any valid judgements
for that reason, anybody who is certain of anything mocks their insecurity.
therefore they must enforce a catechism to protect themselves from contradiction.
they hate themselves. this is what they project when they define ‘human nature’.
it’s the core belief in their own impotence that makes them rage.

John Chism
August 9, 2018 3:11 pm

Anybody that hasn’t seen the bias against capitalism in environmental sciences is not paying attention. With all the evidence that Carbon Dioxide play’s a very little role in global temperature. With Carbon Dioxide steadily increasing and no noticeable increased global temperature…With some reporting a slight cooling. The War on Fossil Fuels by Governments keeps up the fake science narrative and increasing the cost of energy from Fossil Fuels. Their taxes on Fossil Fuels causes a cascade of price distortions for everything that requires energy to produce and provide it to the consumers. These Governments then deny economically depressed countries from becoming competitive by restricting their energy from Fossil Fuels. Of course I’m preaching to the choir on here. Because most of you know this.

August 9, 2018 3:20 pm

Human reasoning is a lot less reasonable than we think it is. What passes for reasoning is often usually confabulation.

Imagine picking a card from a deck of playing cards. To your astonishment, you find that the magician has predicted your choice. Although you felt like your choice was free, in reality it was highly controlled. The process by which your choice can be systematically influenced is known as forcing. This process has interesting connections to recent work showing that observers often confabulate about the reasons for their choices. link

“Impact Scientists”, like Dr. Michael Mann afaict, indulge in motivated reasoning wherein the conclusion is preordained and the rest serves only to support the preordained conclusion.

Motivated reasoning is pretty obvious. Richard Linzen once pointed out that adjustments to data can be expected and legitimate. When the adjustments are all in the same direction, that’s a pretty good clue that they’re bogus.

When a scientific paper contradicts your lived experience and there is no reason to believe the author has your best interests at heart, you will likely mistrust the author and reject the paper’s results. The liberal habit of calling conservatives stupid pretty much guarantees that will happen.

Reply to  commieBob
August 10, 2018 8:32 am

Lord Mountbatten once said in a television interview that “in order to get the right answer , you must ask the right question”.
He was renowned for always believing that he was always right.

August 9, 2018 3:23 pm

“These are researchers, typically working in the social sciences and environmental science, who often conduct research with the stated goal of raising awareness of left-liberal issues,”

Another reason includes those who conduct science largely to benefit those in power, and to advance the interests and culture of the academic-political elite: the ‘academic-political complex’. (Another word for it is deep state). I would argue this can be an even stronger influence than left-wing liberal bias.

M_ S_
August 9, 2018 3:28 pm

The problem is that the left realized that pretending to be certain about something and using a lot of science-sounding terms helps them push policies no one in their right mind would vote for otherwise.

They are ruining science, just as they have all but completely ruined politics and government economics, public education, and are doing their utmost to ruin the US health care system, and the judiciary system.

Reply to  M_ S_
August 9, 2018 3:53 pm

… push policies no one in their right mind would vote for otherwise.

There is a lot of support for that idea. This paper, with lots of references, is a goldmine of information.

Johne Morton
August 9, 2018 3:38 pm

Add “fake science” to the same category that fake news is in. Whenever any profession or field is dominated so completely by one political ideology, and clearly for political purposes, beware. Conservatives have plenty of reasons to be doubtful of left-wing “science”, education, media, economics, etc.- the track records that haven’t already been massaged or redacted are simply awful.

Alan Tomalty
Reply to  Johne Morton
August 10, 2018 4:43 am

I think we can all agree that unless the fake science of ozone hole and global warming is stopped, all of science is doomed.

Smart Rock
August 9, 2018 4:05 pm

My skepticism is not conservative skepticism, or liberal skepticism, or progressive skepticism. It is skepticism about what I (and many others) see as bad science. Bad science being science where conclusions are determined in advance of the research. Mostly, it’s “climate science” and its takeover of what used to be the environmental movement.

Social science isn’t really science, as we know the science that has evolved over the centuries. Not quite sure what it should be called, but I honestly can’t pretend to be interested.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Smart Rock
August 9, 2018 4:38 pm

I used to teach with a PhD paleontologist who was a survivor of the Pacific Theater in WWII. He referred to the social sciences as the “silly sciences.” He had a unique perspective of what he called the “real world.”

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 9, 2018 4:46 pm

I’ll use that.

Robert W. Turner
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 9, 2018 8:14 pm

Exactly. Life experience and wisdom is worth more than anything Freud had to say.

D. Cohen
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
August 10, 2018 3:35 pm

People majoring in STEM fields are often given the “11’th” commandment:

****Thou shalt not commit a social science.****

Reply to  Smart Rock
August 9, 2018 5:32 pm

Perusing the grant requests and proposals at my institution, I’d say that medicine fits the “bad science” area as well. Every single grant proposal I have seen has wanted the researcher to state what the outcome of the research will be. I really wish they would word it as “what hypothesis will be tested”. Negative outcomes are very possible, especially in the complex world of biological interactions with chemistry.

Michael 2
Reply to  Smart Rock
August 9, 2018 6:26 pm

Social science is a science blended with statistics, grand assumptions and wishful thinking. It’s not like pigeons where if you understand the behavior of one you pretty much understand the behavior of any or all.

But I accept the usefulness of TRYING to understand different kinds of people and recognizing that different can be VERY different.

Reply to  Michael 2
August 9, 2018 7:39 pm

Sociologists are trying…very trying.

Reply to  Smart Rock
August 9, 2018 8:15 pm

Social science isn’t really science, as we know the science that has evolved over the centuries. Not quite sure what it should be called…

“Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming” might be considered a valid label in some circles…

D. Cohen
Reply to  sycomputing
August 10, 2018 3:40 pm

A group of scientists is also part of society, so a working theory of sociology would not only be able to predict right now what sociologists would think was true in the future — that is, what they would “discover” in the future — but also what all the physicists, chemists, biologists, etc. would think was true or “discover” in the future. This is the same thing as knowing the outcome of experiments before they have been performed. Obviously this ain’t gonna happen, so …

August 9, 2018 4:21 pm

Before about 1970, most scientists shunned the spotlight leaving it to non-scientist popularizers like Jacques Cousteau, for example. They also were highly critical of other scientists who sought the limelight. It was a sort of peer review that kept science from being overly politicized. Carl Sagan reversed that with his appearances on The Tonight Show and his highly praised Cosmos series. NASA was more than happy to have him touting space research, but it opened the floodgates. The more responsible and sophisticated popularizers (e.g., Steven J. Gould) were replaced by the less lights (e.g.,Bill Nye). It’s been a race to the bottom. When conservatives see the degrading of science communication (e.g., Scientific American) by sensationalist journalistic practices, of course they’re skeptical that the information itself has any merit. Often a book’s cover quality tells you a lot about its contents.

Reply to  Gary
August 9, 2018 5:36 pm

and sagan was the noblest liar of all the rockstar academics.
remember nucular winter?
remember when the kuwaiti oil fires didn’t wint?
sagan was the last of the ones who thought being caught out in a colossal lie was a career ender.
science ministries have evolved past that now.

August 9, 2018 4:26 pm

Ideological bias, yes. However, the problem is not liberal ideology per se, but rather liberal or divergent frames of reference outside the scientific logical domain where observations, reproductions, and deductions are processed. Everyone believes something and trusts (i.e. faith) someone, typically, or something.. The problem follows when divergence engenders corruption, establishes behavioral protocols (i.e.religion), and commands redistributive change, founded on unearned authority and inconsistent (e.g. selective) principles.

Pat Frank
August 9, 2018 4:52 pm

So-called “Critical Theory” has ruined Sociology, forms the basis of every single department of cultural studies (feminism, etc.), and is set to ruin departments of law.

Critical Theory is a pastiche of foundational assumptions that pre-ordains the interpretation of all data. For example, Critical Race Theory, starts out claiming that, “racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society.” Every study is interpreted so as to confirm this assumption.

CRT goes on to suppose that, “The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture.” Got that? Racism exists even when there are no racists. Was there ever a better prescription for an unending program of accusatory polemics?

Substitute patriarchy for racism, and you’ve got Feminism.

Data in the soft (so-called) sciences is always at least equivocal. It can be interpreted any way one likes. In departments employing critical theory, the studies are always confirmatory.

It’s politics and false scholarship all the way down. These departments violate the tenure agreement, and should no more receive Federal or state money for their partisan work than should churches for their missionaries.

Phil R
Reply to  Pat Frank
August 9, 2018 6:14 pm

Thank you for a clear explanation of critical theory ( and CRT). I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it for a year or so, since I first heard the term. What a bunch of BS.

Pat Frank
Reply to  Phil R
August 11, 2018 11:11 am

Thanks, Phil. Obvious to any critical thinker; opaque to 2/3 of the academic establishment (including of the administration).

August 9, 2018 4:55 pm

Did you know that University “B” can Dispute the awarding of a degree by University “A”?

Fact. Accredited academies can be proven to have granted degrees in violation of accreditation rules, thus the degree becomes *un-accredited*.

August 9, 2018 5:27 pm

Brave man, brave paper. that won’t go over well in Oxford!

August 9, 2018 6:09 pm

Well duh.

August 9, 2018 6:18 pm

In the late 70’s when I was in high school we did a subject called “Social Studies”. The next year it was called “Social Science”. I raised a 14 year old eyebrow and thought “That’s a bit odd”. Fast forward to second year university and I, like all undergraduate engineers, was forced to do endure humanities subjects. One year I ended up in a class named “Political Science in Australia” or similar. In recent years I realised that the appropriate title for the social and political fields really was “studies”, not “science”. A key part of the real sciences is repeatable experiments. When the social and political teaching departments can start conducting repeatable experiments, then they will have earned a title upgrade from “studies” to “science”.

August 9, 2018 7:01 pm
August 9, 2018 7:52 pm

“Research confirms that every decade since 1974, conservatives’ trust in scientists has decreased.”

So what happened in that decade of the early 70’s? NASA started abandoning science and engineering and EPA started abusing them. There’s more, of course. The Viet Nam war ended, but Universities had become incubators of leftist social thought. Downhill ever since.

Robert W. Turner
August 9, 2018 7:59 pm

Most sociologists would claim, in good faith, to be objective. But emerging research suggests that the political slant in the field is corrupting objectivity, due to a variety of issues including confirmation bias and scholar-activism in the field.

Sounds like further research is forthcoming. Maybe follow that up by taking a look at this topic outside sociology. Maybe researchers would catch on that they are missing out on studying the latest mass hysteria and madness in real time, and this is the most widespread hysteria evah, unprecedented in size.

Alan D McIntire
August 9, 2018 8:15 pm

Aggravating the politicization of science is the false premise that ‘ sociology’ and ‘political science’ have anything to do with science.

dodgy geezer
August 9, 2018 9:40 pm

At last! Someone gets it!

Not that they’ll last very long…….

Arthur G Foster
August 9, 2018 10:31 pm

It’s hard not to be skeptical of the soft sciences with cranks like Chomsky running around: the Michael Mann of linguistics (and MIT is the CRU of linguistics). And he is despised in his own field. –AGF

old construction worker
August 10, 2018 12:31 am

‘…come less trustful of scientists since the 1970s’ Back in the 70’s when I was in collage I took a marketing course. That was an eye opener and why I became skeptical of “scientific studies”. Example: Create a buss. “Scientific studies” says coffee is bad. The grand statement would be: “Scientific studies” by, insert government agency name, says coffee is bad. Few months later do survey about “scientific study” If favorable, start marketing to get more people drink tee begins.

Mark Pawelek
August 10, 2018 1:41 am

1. Liberal, Libertarian, and even Socialist skepticism of scholar activism is also justified. Because their record of failure is astounding and scary. Baffles me why mugs keep coming back for more.


conservatives have become less trustful of scientists since the 1970s. Gauchat argues that this is because conservatives increasingly see scientific findings as threatening to their worldview.

I’ve also become less trustful of scientists. But for different reasons: because climate activists and the like threaten the sanity and prosperity of humanity.

August 10, 2018 1:53 am

This Confas guy is interesting, a cat among the pigeons, take this pigeon comment from an online forum:

“Do you think the Jews will be able to infiltrate China and rule in alliance with treasonous native elites, like they have in the West?

Frankly, I think the only hope for a dignified future for the human race is if the Chinese manage to supplant the Jews as the world’s most influential ethnic group.”

Nasty antisemitism, from here:


August 10, 2018 5:43 am

You can consider one way to deal with this issue is to reflect on the fact that ‘social’ areas seek to add science to their name, while science areas never seek to add ‘social’ to themselves. This one-way street is rather telling.

john harmsworth
August 10, 2018 6:02 am

Trust has been declining since 1974? And in all the thousands of studies and surveys done in that time nobody thought to ask for more detail? Can we spell “confirmation bias”?

August 10, 2018 6:06 am

Sociology is biased?!!? Consider my mind blown. I never would have guessed.

August 10, 2018 6:54 am

So Michael Mann is an “impact scientist.” I guess I already concluded that but I did not have a name for it. Thanks.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 10, 2018 7:40 am

…or maybe “agenda impact scientist”

Joel Snider
Reply to  ResourceGuy
August 10, 2018 8:40 am

I have other names for him – but I promised I would behave.

Joel Snider
August 10, 2018 8:37 am

Any ‘establishment’ is only as respected as those who populate it – and once they’ve been corrupted – in most modern cases, by progressives – they are purely and simply no longer trustworthy.

Aaron Watters
August 10, 2018 11:58 am

Once you develop an ability to spot confirmation bias you see it absolutely everywhere!

August 10, 2018 1:58 pm

What is a “conservative”?

Reply to  simple-touriste
August 10, 2018 7:35 pm

In the old days, what we call a conservative now would have been known as a liberal or classic liberal. They tend to be very independent and need definitive proof of harm before any restriction on individuals will be considered. They tend to be very aware of cause and effect and like to trace events back to their root causes. In American usage it tends to be those who consider the words and structures of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence to be literal and a prescription on how we should interact with government.

I have a feeling that whole books could be written on this subject and I am not the one to do so.

Forrest Baker
August 10, 2018 2:55 pm

I am not skeptical of science just the poor saps who perform it.

Reply to  Forrest Baker
August 10, 2018 4:46 pm

I’m not skeptical of la science I just would like to met her first.

August 10, 2018 3:48 pm
edward w bergonzi
August 11, 2018 6:19 am

There’s a lot of confusion introduced by this article regarding what is considered “left”. So much of it is based on post-modernist nostrums and identity politics. Science has never been “neutral” in any case. The central issue, as the philosopher Hegel once commented, is not to describe what is happening, but to determine what is “true in happenings”. This aphorism certainly applies to any current discussion of climate.

Gary Pearse
August 12, 2018 10:34 pm

The political corruption of the social sciences explains very well why only 4% of socio profs are conservative and 86 percent are liberal progressives. Guess what the other 10% are! I would venture a hunch that the only quality, objective work that can be done in this long time broken science is by the 4%. The rest are a consensus of progressives and further left. Sounds familiar -96% to 4%.

Bravo to the Oxford researchers. I’m happy to hear socio’s not 100% broken as I thought. Also maybe there are more worthy honest researchers at what I thought was a broken university, like the once great Harvard and the California greats of once upon a time.

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