The Unscientific Republican

16 Dec

Only 6% of scientists in a random sample of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) identify themselves as Republicans, according to a Pew 2009 Study. Assuming AAAS is not tremendously unrepresentative of scientists as a whole, what explains under-representation of Republicans in science?

While Republicans are under-represented among people with advanced degrees more generally, I here limit myself to offering some possible hypotheses for explaining under-representation of Republicans in science, refraining from any attempt to analyze their validity.

Science education or practice causes liberalism:

  1. Brainwashing: Science is taught by liberals, who brainwash their students into believing their preferred ideology.
  2. Diversity: Upper echelon of science today is racially and culturally? diverse. Interacting with a diverse set of people causes people to become liberal.
  3. Cynical: Science is funded by the government, and people in the field, like elsewhere, love the hand that feeds them.
  4. People practicing science come to see the value of policy guided by science. On some major issues – like climate change and evolution, Republican Party has taken ‘anti-science’ stances.
  5. Science causes people to question religious dogma, become atheists or even anti-theists, etc. causing them to choose a party less aligned with religion.


  1. Intelligence: Intelligence causes liberalism (Kanazawa). Intelligence is one of the things that affect the choice of the discipline and the number of years a person chooses to study. Intelligence is the confounding variable that predicts both.

Liberals select into science, and Republicans select out of it.

  1. Conservatives “have a need for cognitive closure” which is not amenable to open questions and scientific inquiry (Jost).
  2. Concept of “conservatism” is one of maintaining the status quo.
  3. Social dominance orientation: Republicans prefer going into status quo enhancing occupations like economics, business, police; Democrats less so (Sidanius).
  4. Religious people don’t go into science, which they see as anti-religion.