Who is More Phobic About Science--Conservatives or Liberals? David Sloan Wilson poses this question to Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided By Politics and Religion. Jonathan's answer might surprise you.Haidt proposes here that the American left denies evolution as much as the right because on the left we are not racist enough?
In making this case, he pretends the category of "race" is exhaustively characterized in evolutionary terms, even though racial categories are social and cultural in ways that have richly documented historical vicissitudes and diverse forms and effects. While racist behaviors are clearly compatible with evolutionary forces they are also radically underdetermined by evolutionary forces.
Haidt's vaunted evopsycho douchebaggery is actually profoundly pseudo-scientific and yet he declares the exposure of the historical complexities of race-thinking by social scientists and historians of the left as a form of crazyness comparable to young earth biological, geological, cosmological christianist denialisms. How does he account for the repeated and amplifying insistence by political scientists and sociologists working on race that racism is a structural phenomenon not reducible merely to animus, or for the increasing reliance on results in cognitive science (studies revealing that people "remember" people of color as lighter-skinned the more they are associated with elite professions?) and scrupulous statistical analysis (regional investigation of denials of home loans or job applications in ways that reflect visually or acoustically articulated perceptions of race?) in so much recent work on the subject? Does this sound like anti-scientificity to anybody but Haidt?
In his effort to produce his own BS "both sides do it" narrative he proposes (a typical right-wing chestnut, whatever Haidt's avowed politics may be) that the democratic value of equality is a straightforward commitment to homogeneity rather than to equity (equal recourse to law, equal opportunity, active address of abiding inequities) and proceeds as if liberals are hostile to diversity when nothing could be clearer than that, once again, it is members of the reactionary right who exhibit fearful hostility and intolerance of diverse lifeways time and time again. The comments section for that video stinks like a slaughterhouse with racist comments and palpable ignorance, precisely as you would expect, for example.
Haidt's larger point that moral beliefs operate differently than scientific beliefs is one with which I agree as a pluralist, but part of the problem is that the different forms of reasonable belief are far more various than the blunt instrument of fact/value or is/ought: There are scientific facts but also legal facts and the criteria for warranted belief in and application of their facticities differ; so too I have argued at length that moral, aesthetic, ethical, cultural, political normativities have different warrants and satisfy different needs as well. And these examples only multiply the closer you look into the question of reasonableness, both existentially (the Arendtian labor, work, action, narrative, thought, reckoning, judgment typologies provide an inkling of what I mean by that) and disciplinarily (sociology, macroeconomics, literary criticism, molecular biology, aeronautical engineering, and so on).
Reasonableness of belief is both a matter of satisfying the criteria of warrantability associated with the kind of belief on offer, but also identifying which mode of belief is relevant to the situation of belief at hand. Haidt seems to me to be misidentifying the discipline most relevant to the phenomena he uses in his race example to peddle his false equivalency narrative (a cheap way for third rate intellectuals, journalistic or academic, to appear "neutral" and hence "objective" and hence "scientific" and hence "serious" in a train of facile idiocies for the rubes), and it is unsurprising that the usual mischief ensues.
As I have said many times, the decline of respect for science across the Republican right (which is a selective thing, after all, since few who deny, or who cynically pretend to deny for the sake of parochial profit-taking, the consensus of relevant climate scientists on the question of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change and resource descent also deny the consensus of relevant medical experts when the time comes for open heart surgery) derives in my view from the increasing need of Republicans for deception more generally in order to keep a voting coalition together that gets majorities to vote against their best interests in service to the greed and authority of elite-incumbent minorities when the demographic diversification and secularization of America undermines the national viability of the usual racist and (hetero)sexist appeals to incumbent fears and resentments of abject, threatening "others." The normalization of deceptions (in the broader context still of a public culture utterly suffused with marketing and promotional norms and forms of deception, distraction, division, hyperbole, and fraud) and the irrational clinging to prejudices that fly in the face of abundant evidence is not exactly an environment conducive to a critical, let alone scientific, temper.