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The political contributions of scientists highlight the academic divide and its impact on public confidence in scientific endeavors.


Politically left-leaning people reported that Increase confidence in scientists During the COVID-19 pandemic, while those leaning to the political right reported much lower levels of trust in scientists. This polarization around scientific issues — from COVID-19 to climate change to evolution — is at its peak since surveys began tracking this question more than 50 years ago.

Surveys reveal that people with higher education are more ideologically liberal. And academia has been gradually shifting to the left over the past 40 years. Scientists — the people who produce scientific knowledge — are widely seen as on the opposite side of the political spectrum from those who trust science the least. This disparity presents a challenge when communicating important science to the public.

In a recent study, Historian of Science Naomi Oreskesan environmental social scientist Victoria cologneLiterary critic Charlie Tyson And me Make use of public datasets To explore the dynamics of the political tendencies of scholars. Our analysis of individual political donations confirms that the vast majority of scholars who contributed have supported Democratic candidates. But we emphasize that this fact does not need to be limited to effective scientific communication to the public.

Prospecting for political donations of individuals

In the United States, all donations to political parties and campaigns must be reported to the Federal Election Commission. This information It has been published by the FEC on their website, along with the donation amount and date; The name, address and occupation of the donor; and party affiliation of the recipient. This data allowed us to examine the millions of transactions that took place in the past 40 years.

in our study, we examined researchers in academia, specifically people with titles such as “professor,” “faculty,” “scientist,” and “lecturer,” as well as scientists in the energy sector. We conducted this analysis by identifying 100,000 scientists based on their self-reported occupation and referring them to Scopus Elsevier databaseWhich contains information about researchers and their scientific publications. The results of our study indicate a gradual shift away from the Republican Party among American researchers, in academia and industry.

Political donations to scientists reflect polarization in academia - with implications for public trust in science

Public support for the Republican Party, in terms of individual donations from the general public, has declined over the past 40 years. But this trend is more severe for scientists and academics than for the US population in general. By 2022, it was hard to find an academic who would financially support the Republican Party, even in the US Christian colleges and universities. The trend also continues across academic disciplines.

Notably, scientists working for fossil fuel companies have also become more liberal, while their management has remained conservative, based on political donations to both groups. We suspect that this political polarization within corporations may at some point intensify the public conversation about climate change.

Who share scientific theses

People tend to accept and absorb information provided by someone they consider trustworthy. Communication scholars call thisreliable messengerInfluence Various factors such as socioeconomic status, race, and political leanings increasingly influence this perceived credibility.

Science communication is held up by what appears to be a positive feedback loop: The more liberal academia gets, the fewer “trusted messengers” can communicate with the right-leaning half of the United States. Trust in science and scientific institutions is declining among Republicans and is reflected in their politics; Academia, in response, leans more to the left.

The further faction of scientists away from Republicans threatens to further damage conservative Republicans’ faith in science. But we argue that there are ways out of this cycle.

Political donations to scientists reflect polarization in academia - with implications for public trust in science

First, academia is not a monolith. While our study may indicate that all academics are liberal, it is important to acknowledge that the data we analyzed – political donations – is only a proxy for what people actually believe. We don’t capture every world in this way as not everyone donates to political campaigns. In reality, Most people don’t donate to any filter at all.

according to SurveysMany academics have traditionally considered themselves moderates. The question, then, is how to communicate the diversity of political opinions in academia to the public, given the degree of current polarization, and how to raise these other voices.

Secondly, the pronounced left-leaning leanings of academics Not necessarily evidence of a ‘liberal bias’that Some people worry about spoiling the search And impede the pursuit of the truth. In general, higher education seems to have The impact of emancipation on social and political viewsUniversities also play an important role in the formation of L’s political identity Young conservatives.

We believe that clear data about left-leaning academic orientation, as well as an understanding of the reasons behind it, can help interrupt the feedback loop of declining scientific confidence.

Right now, there is a shortage of centrist and conservative scholars to serve as reliable messengers. By engaging in public conversation, these scientists can offer visible alternatives to the anti-science attitudes of Republican elites, while at the same time showing that the scientific world is not homogenous.

Introduction to the conversation

This article has been republished from Conversation Under Creative Commons Licence. Read the The original article.Conversation

the quote: Political Scientists Donations Reflect Polarization in Academia–With Implications for Public Trust in Science (2023, June 6) Retrieved June 6, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-scientists-political-donations- polarization-academiawith.html

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