This is Why Conservatives Don’t Believe in Global Warming

When politics & good science collide it's hard for the public to bet on science.

Posted Aug 03, 2013

Dr. Aaron Sell, evolutionary psychologist and Lecturer at Griffith University (Australia), fills in as guest blogger with this humorous rant about a recent Journal of Personality and Social Psychology article that got under his skin.  


So here's what ruined my day.

I'm reading Eagly and Wood's new piece in Perspectives on Psychological Science. I do this because I think it's important to read people who disagree with you. They mention Clark and Hatfield's classic 1989 article documenting that approximately 0% of women (and about 80% of men) are willing to have casual sex with strangers who approach them and ask for it. Furthermore, when asked instead for dates, women became much more likely to say “yes” (about 50%) while men became less likely to say “yes” (also about 50%). So in short, about 30% of the men will have sex with a woman but not date her. Women showed nothing like that. Not surprisingly this data is a thorn (a dagger? a sword? a battering ram infested with ebola?) in the side of those who wish to argue that men and women are essentially the same when it comes to sexual relationships. This isn’t the only data point showing this difference: the field of anthropology is stuffed full of ethnographies that reveal the same pattern, evolutionary biology shows the same pattern in hundreds of species (the sex that invests less in offspring will set lower thresholds when selecting mates), market analyses of pornography, romance novels, prostitution, and so forth show the same patterns, and on and on.  But the Clark and Hatfield study is the most direct, profound, scientific, succinct demonstration of the silliness of the view that men and women have the same sexual mechanisms. 

This sort of nonsense is an indictment of our science. This is why conservatives don’t believe in global warming. They shouldn’t. As long as the most prestigious journals of our discipline publish this kind of political masturbation we have no right to demand that the public take us seriously. When politics and good science collide there is no reason the public should bet on science. They are better off trusting their uninformed intuitions. An imbecile may not know anything about the science of climatology, but they know damn well that 80% of women don’t want casual sex with random men who are “reputed to be sexually skilled.”

This ought to humble us a little bit; and make us more than a little angry.

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