Some Republicans say that the “lame” street media and all the college professors have a liberal bias. That should be embarrassing for those Republicans if the people who make a career of researching and reading and writing about this stuff are really all liberal. There are two meanings of “liberal.” There is the bad meaning that Republicans have attached to the word and the good sense of the free exchange of ideas like what doesn’t happen in Vladimir Putin’s country.
Science is not democratic. This is not to say that science isn’t full of roiling debates because it is based on skepticism and good evidence; and good evidence is hard to obtain, especially in human biology. God knows I debate a lot of science. But if a majority of voters want to be convinced that the earth is flat and global warming isn’t happening they are still wrong. So it is discouraging when there is evidence that a lot of Americans don’t know or don’t want to believe the evidence.
In a study of opinions about obesity made by researchers from the Department of Political Science at the University of Kansas it was found that opinions about this subject are influenced by politics. (1)
Some findings collected from their own polling and a study of other polling results:
– Democrats and Independents polled very similarly and could be lumped together as opposed to Republicans.
– 51 percent of respondents consider themselves to be at least overweight.
– If you think obesity is caused by genetics then you are more likely have sympathy or at least not be angry with obese people or think they can be discriminated against.
– More educated respondents are no more likely than the less educated to attribute obesity to biology or lifestyle choices.
– Also gender did not seem to predict attributions or specific policy support.
– If you were obese you were more likely to say it is not your fault but only if you are not Republican.
– In general Democrats-Independents vs Republicans followed the opinions and consequences of opinions in accord with the standard dictum quoted by these authors “…in societies we inhabit today, personality causality is a right-wing explanation and situation causality is a left-wing explanation.”
– Feelings about these issues is getting more partisan over time.
If you add that to the point of view that scientists and pundits are biased and wrong then you have the basis for unfounded ideas about obesity.
So what does this scientist pundit think? I think the evidence is strong for non-culpability of victims of obesity for their problem. But I also don’t believe that there is evidence so far that any particular government policy can fix it.
John DiTraglia M.D. is a Pediatrician in Portsmouth. He can be reached by e-mail- [email protected] or phone-354-6605.