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Scientists leave GOP due to attitudes toward science
Politics » Do the Republicans drive away researchers tackling the world’s key scientific problems?

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"The GOP is not as anti-science as they are portrayed," he said, pointing to the media as a big part of the perception. "It casts [Republicans] as uninformed and uneducated."

Callison is disappointed to see how science has become politicized, though he understands how climate change, for instance, became a sore point for the GOP, since the "cure is worse than the disease" with the prospect of carbon taxes or greenhouse gas trading.

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"You can just about tell someone’s views on science by their politics, and that’s unfortunate," he said.

Daniel Horns, assistant dean in the college of science and health at UVU, wonders if there are personality traits underlying what has become a mutual distrust.

Scientists, he said, have a built in comfort with uncertainty because "there’s uncertainty in every result." Conservatives, meanwhile, might not accept uncertainty as easily.

And that makes the rift somewhat less of a curiosity and more of a problem in a world where curing deadly viruses, understanding cancer and coping with global environmental change are all too real.

"If we don’t have scientists making the decisions, or in the trust of the decision-makers," he said, "then we can’t be sure that political decisions are going to be based on the best data."

State Climatologist Rob Gillies would agree.

At the Utah Climate Center based at Utah State University, he sees invaluable solutions in research for everyday problems, such as how ski areas will survive the shrinking snow seasons and how to plan water supplies in the nation’s second-driest state.

"Ignoring science," he says, "comes with risk."

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Twitter: @judyfutah

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