According to many, especially among the secular and liberal cultural elites, the arrow runs only one way. Conservatives and evangelicals have been engaged, we are told, in an ongoing “war” against modern science (science defined as acceptance of Darwinian evolution, global warming, and embryonic stem cell research). Despite evidence to the contrary, I simply want to point out in this post that it is rather easy to make the case that liberals too are blatantly guilty of readily dismissing or denying hard empirical data when even well-established facts don’t fit their ideological dogma. Here are a few examples:
The impact of traditional family breakdown:
One of the most well-established empirical facts in the study of sociology, family and parenting, socio-psychology, political science, education studies, criminology, etc. is the relationship between the well-being of children raised in traditional or nuclear families versus those raised in alternative family arrangements. Many times on this blog, I’ve pointed to this evidence, so I’m not going to do so again here. But whether we are talking criminal behavior, poverty, health, educational performance, mental disorders, satisfaction with life, and other measures of social and personal well-being, the most important variable, cause, or factor is routinely the breakdown or nuclear family. There aren’t even any close seconds. But these facts don’t fit the liberal narrative, dogma, faith, that families are utterly malleable, kids utterly adaptable, all you need is love, there is no such thing as the “ideal” family design, fathers are unnecessary, marriage is unnecessary, gender roles in parenting are meaningless, there is no “right way” to raise kids, etc. So, it appears that even when the facts and principle causes of so many social problems (or social “injustices”) that so trouble the left are perfectly clear, they are simply ignored or explicitly denied if they get in the way of an ideological narrative. When empirical evidence meets dogma, in this case, the left does precisely what they accuse the right of doing, they stick their head in the sand or jam fingers in their ears. Ironic? Yes. Hypocritical? True. But most importantly, sad, because millions of suffering children are the result. In many ways, this fact denying behavior is far more consequential than whether high school science textbooks describe human evolution as scientific fact or just a theory.
The reality of differences between genders:
The science is pretty doggone clear that real, significant, persistent differences in men and women exist. From virtually every field, psychology and psychiatry, sociology and anthropology, anatomy and physiology, the evidence is overwhelming. Even the secular left’s favorite theory of everything, evolutionary socio-biology and evolutionary anthropology, explains these theses stubborn (plainly obvious too) differences as perfectly normal, a natural part of the way humans survive and thrive. But none of this matters because none of this works well with the dogma that men and women are interchangeable in society, families, parenting, the workplace, military, and so on. When the belief or goal of a gender-blind society conflicts with established empirical and scientific fact, which does the left choose to give up? Do they just objectively follow the facts or ignore, deny, dismiss them for the sake of an ideological paradigm and agenda?
The physiological nature of the unborn:
Early on in the abortion debate, the defenders of abortion argued that abortion can’t be wrong if the fetus is just a blog of undeveloped tissue. When advances in medical technology and biological research began to yield clear evidence that this description was simply untenable, that instead, the fetus is far more developed at earlier stages than originally thought, did the pro-choice left bow the knee to science or stick to dogma? You guessed it. Their argument simply changed from it’s not life or it’s not human to it’s not a person or it’s not a person with rights that trump those of the mother, so it can be a person “worth sacrificing.” Take a seat science, we’ll call you when we need you.
I’m not saying that conservatives are never reluctant believers in scientific consensus. I’m only saying that many of us are, regardless of worldview persuasion, when that consensus or evidence doesn’t fit our most cherished beliefs.