Q&A Friday #63: What’s Motivates Scientists To Go Along With Scientific Theories That Aren’t True?

Question: “Why do you think political parties have opposite views on issues of science? While certainly scientists will disagree on theories, shouldn’t this be more or less independent of political ideology?

Or more specifically, since you seem to agree with the findings of conservative scientists, what motivations do you think exist for liberal scientists to say global warming is a threat if evidence suggests otherwise, or say that embryonic stem cell research is no better than adult stem cell research if evidence suggests otherwise?” — FairMindedLefty

Answer: What motivates scientists to go along with scientific theories that aren’t true on issues that have been politicized?

Two things. Money and pressure/persecution.

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If you’re working on global warming and conclude that man isn’t responsible, what will happen? Your grant money will dry up. With embryonic stem cells, it’s the same dilemma. Private industry won’t fund embryonic stem cell research because it’s not promising. So, they’ve got to talk up embryonic stem cells to the government so they can get funded or they’ll have to find new jobs.

As far as the pressure/persecution goes, are you going to be the university professor who goes up to Congress and testifies that global warming isn’t manmade or that embryonic stem cell research isn’t worth funding? Given how liberal universities are and vindictive the left is over these issue, would you want to be up for a tenure vote under those circumstances?

Moreover, if you take the “liberal” position on these issues, conservatives will disagree with you. But, if you take the “conservative” position, liberals will publicly attack you as a “climate denialist,” a “shill for the oil industry,” and try to destroy your career (Go read Mike Adams to see what happens to people who don’t toe the liberal line at universities). So, a lot of people probably assume that discretion is the better part of valour and keep their mouths shut.

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