Sometimes I want to write but only tears will come.
I (a member of no party) quote from the opening of a recent “scientific” study published by that august organization, the National Academy of Sciences:
Although protecting the environment is likely to be a priority for political liberals (a category that typically corresponds to the Democratic Party in the United States), political conservatives (a category that typically corresponds to the Republican Party in the United States) may find that this issue conflicts with the ideology to which they subscribe.
Yes, lefties love the earth, would lay down their lives for her; they call her pet names (Gaia, Mother); they want to protect her, non-ideologically “save” here, because if they didn’t she would disappear into a quantum hole and forever vanish. Or something. Righties, the big meanies, want to dig that quantum hole; they want to destroy the environment because the only thing green they love is money; they would sooner pee in a snowbank than in a low-flush toilet: they have no choice, the ideology to which they subscribe won’t let them do anything but.
The peer-reviewed science paper is “Political ideology affects energy-efficiency attitudes and choices” by Dena Gromet and some other delightful intellectuals.
Gromet first asked some folks about their “moral obligation” to reduce “the level of carbon emissions that harm the environment.” After a needlessly complex statistical analysis he concluded “that more politically conservative individuals were less in favor of investment in energy-efficient technology than were those who were more politically liberal.” Which could also be put “liberals were more in favor of higher government spending.” Investment forsooth!
Gromet’s second great scientific “finding”: “In a real-choice context, more conservative individuals were less likely to purchase a more expensive energy-efficient light bulb when it was labeled with an environmental message than when it was unlabeled.” It will turn out (see below) Gromet could equally have written, “liberal individuals were more likely to purchase a more expensive bulb when it was labeled with an environmental message.”
Gromet showed 210 people recruited from some college two light bulbs, a lethal-mercury-filled eco-bulb with or without the sticker “Protect the Environment” which cost either $0.50 or $1.50 and a paleolithic now-banned-to-protect-the-environment incandescent bulb which cost $0.50. Gromet gave people $2 for their troubles and another $2 to buy a bulb and were told they could keep the change after the “purchase.”
Participants were asked how their “choice would express to others who they were, their values, and their political beliefs, as well as how much it would affirm them”.
I bought a Butterfinger the other day and I recall thinking as I proudly slipped it into my shirt pocket—with enough wrapper sticking out for all to see—how much it affirmed me.
Anyway, Gromet ran some horrific regression input with all sorts of derived values and out popped a wee p-value which confirmed liberals though well of themselves for paying $1.50 for a bulb worth $0.50. I think. The actual analysis is a mess so it’s difficult to tell what happened.
As you can plainly see, this paper, cheerleading as it was for the liberal view, even though this bias was probably unintentional, has nothing to do with science. How moral it is to reduce CO2 is—need I say this?—a moral and not a scientific question. And anyway, the opinions of some people off the street after they were harangued with some left-leaning lecture aren’t even valuable as sociology.
And what does the experiment to buy affirmation bulbs prove? That people will drive their Priuses down to Wholefoods to spend five bucks per “organic” free-range carrot and then proudly put a sticker on their bumper announcing the same, and that others will cruise to the Winn Dixie in their F150s and load up on carrot cake and not feel a frisson of moral delight while doing do?
Big science is now (almost entirely?) a handmaiden of politics.
Thanks to Rob Ryan for alerting us to this, um, paper.