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Folks,

To me this is a broader issue.  This is an issue of another social 
force, albeit small -- the left, working to question and undermine 
through various issues, the foundation of a reason based society.

 From the other end of the political spectrum, various books like 
Chris Mooney's The Republican War on Science  followed how the 
ideology of the corporate and Christian right sectors, lead their 
treatment of the facts.  Their ends determined how they would deal 
with the evidence  available to them. This is what is contrary to an 
evidence-based politics...an "anti-evidence" politics if you will. 
That's what leads various observers and scientists to decry the 
right.  Some even say that the FAR Christian right wants to lead us 
to a pre-enlightenment era of feudal theocracy. OK, you all know 
this, but I also see something similar from the other side.

I think some left wingers are also practitioners of an anti-evidence 
politics.  In sum, they are the anti-science left. I've run across 
them in various venues in my travels in environmental justice work 
that I've been involved in since the late 80's.  Just as for the 
right, their ideology leads their treatment of the evidence available.

Anything that even appears to stand against what they value or 
contradicts their positions is to be opposed or at least open to 
question.  Anything that opposes or questions their adversaries has 
legitimacy (ie. acupuncture, anti HIV folks vs. medical 
establishment).  They'll hang their hat on the most flaky practices 
or positions with the the most meager, poor quality supporting 
evidence as long as it stands in opposition to their adversaries.

To me, this is as bad as the right wing anti-science forces.  I think 
that they, from the other end, chip away at the enlightenment 
foundation of our society right along with corporatists and 
Christians on the other end.

I think a way to get to the bottom line to ask these guys,  does 
evidence lead ideology or does ideology lead evidence?

I'll give you folks an example of this kind of test that my thesis 
advisor (another red diaper baby) gave me during graduate school.  He 
knew I was a progressive and had worked on civil and human rights in 
the Latino community in NYC, he also knew  I was an early proponent 
of environmental justice even when the name wasn't coined.  So he 
asked me what if researchers had completed a study and found that 
white people were of superior intelligence to people of color, would 
I believe the conclusions?  What if the study was rock solid, 
completely water tight.  Then I went through a series of questions 
and caveats and he replied yes this study took that into account. 
Ultimately, the idea was that all possible criticisms from all 
corners (people of color, civil libertarians etc.) were taken into 
account and controlled for.  Would I believe it?  I said, well if all 
these possible concerns and questions were taken into account and 
controlled for, I'd have to believe that all white people are of 
superior intelligence to all people of color.  He said, OK you will 
be a good scientist.  I took that to mean that if the evidence stood 
contrary to one of my most treasured beliefs, and I still believed in 
it, then evidence led ideology.

I think that many members of the left would fail this test.  If they 
do, they are of the anti-science left.  I don't know what that makes 
them, but I know I don't agree with them.  Further, people with these 
views, and WBAI and KPFA are chock full of them,  can adversely 
affect many people especially on health related matters.  Not as many 
as the right can thankfully!

I would have to ask, what is to be done about the anti-science left?

J
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Jose Morales Ph.D.