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Scientist Alex Berezow On The Anti-Scientific Left

Alex Berezow

The Republican party - and conservatives - are often characterized in the media as being “anti-science” due to their views on evolution, climate change and stem cell research.

But in the new book Science Left Behind: Feel-Good Fallacies and the Rise of the Anti-Scientific Left authors Alex Berezow and Hank Campbell chronicle the left’s use of dubious science to advance its own political goals. That includes hot-button issues like hydraulic fracturing, nuclear power and genetically modified foods.

Dr. Alex Berezow is the editor of RealClearScience. He’s originally from Murphysboro, Illinois and he graduated from Southern Illinois University.

“The market is already flooded with conservative anti-science books,” Berezow said on KRCU’s Going Public. “If you read science journalism, they are very critical of conservatives. And I think rightfully so.”

In setting out to write this book, Berezow wanted to correct the imbalance on coverage by laying out the left’s anti-scientific positions.

“By doing so, we’re not endorsing or siding with the right,” Berezow said. “We’re just simply saying, if we’re going to criticize the right, let’s criticize the left as well.”

Berezow and Campbell specifically target progressives, who they say are different from liberals. Liberals like Bill Clinton or Tony Blair want to control market outcomes through mechanisms like labor unions or regulations. But liberals are not social authoritarians and do not want to control social behaviors. Progressives, Berezow said, want to influence market outcomes and control social behaviors. But unlike conservatives, progressives do not want to control drugs and sex.

“They are interested in, can you own a plastic bag? Can you put salt in your food? Can you put trans-fats in your food? What kind of car can you drive?” Berezow said.

Berezow points to the belief that organic food is more nutritious as one example of a belief that is not backed up by science.

"This idea that natural is good is this myth that seems to exist among the public, chiefly among the members of the left," Berezow said. A recent study found that there are no meaningful difference between traditional and organic food.

Another example of an anti-scientific notion that caught on with progressives is the anti-vaccine movement, which began with a study in 1998 that linked vaccinations with autism. That study was later debunked.

"There has never been a link established among the medical community between vaccines and autism," Berezow said. Now some members of the right, like Michele Bachmann, have also expressed similar views, and libertarians ask if the government should require vaccinations in the first place.

Berezow says many of the left's concerns with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are unfounded.

"People on the left are saying crazy things, like fracking is causing cancer and that we're all going to be poisoned by these chemicals in the fracking process. That hasn't been borne out to be true," Berezow.

Berezow notes that are some studies that suggest water may be contaminated by the fracking process, but not nearly to the extent that fracking opponents suggest.

"I think the correct side would be to proceed [with fracking], but proceed with caution," Berezow said.