A link from InstaPundit but in case you don’t read that blog (what?!) …


Idiot Brigade

Idiot Brigade

The myth of the scientific liberal. Everything I’ve been ranting about here for years, all neatly tied up. Read the whole thing, but here are excerpts.

The core trait of a scientific mind is that when its commitments clash with evidence, evidence rules. On that count, what grade do liberals deserve? Fail, given their reaction to the latest evidence on universal health care, global warming, and universal preschool.

The policy world was rocked recently by a New England Journal of Medicine study showing that Medicaid doesn’t improve the health care outcomes of uninsured individuals.

The study compared the health status of adults who were randomly enrolled in Oregon’s Medicaid program with those who weren’t. It found that two years after patients received Medicaid, “no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes” such as hypertension, cholesterol and diabetes resulted. Coverage did, however, lower depression rates and reduced financial strain.

How should a scientifically-inclined liberal have reacted? By acknowledging that if the findings hold in subsequent years, Obamacare’s plan to use Medicaid to achieve its universal coverage goal — at half-a-trillion-dollar price tag over a decade — would need to be reconsidered.

Some liberals such as Ray Fisman of Slate did just that — but they were the exception. Most liberals either dissed the study’s methodology after praising it previously (Kevin Drum, Mother Jones) or ignored its core findings and reported the good news (Jonathan Cohn, The New Republic) or attacked Obamacare’s opponents as heartless fools (Paul Krugman of The New York Times).

For two decades, progressives have castigated those questioning global warming as “deniers.”

But the Economist, once firmly in the alarmist camp, recently acknowledged that global temperatures have remained stagnant for 15 years even as greenhouse-gas emissions have soared.

This may be because existing models have overestimated the planet’s sensitivity. Or because the heat generated is sinking to the ocean bottom. Or because of something else completely.

How should a scientifically inclined liberal react to this trend? By inhaling deeply and backing off on economy-busting mitigation measures till science offers clearer answers.

And how have liberals reacted? By sticking their fingers in their ears and chanting la-la-la.

Liberals don’t just want universal health insurance — they also want universal preschool. But the evidence for government-funded preschool is even more dubious than for government-funded health care.

Numerous studies on Head Start, the federal pre-K program for poor kids, show that its reading and math gains virtually evaporate by fourth grade. And the latest evidence from Oklahoma and Georgia, two states that implemented universal pre-K in the 1990s, only confirms this.


It’s not that conservatives don’t have ideological fixations that are impervious to science. However, they don’t pretend to don the mantle of science. Liberals do.



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3 responses to “A link from InstaPundit but in case you don’t read that blog (what?!) …

  1. Publius

    Mr. Fountain,
    As you should know by now, never let the facts interfere with progress….

  2. Atticus

    That’s essentially what Michael Crichton said. He said “global warming science” wasn’t “science”, it was politics. He said “consensus” wasn’t an argument, it was a “shutup, don’t interfere w/ the truth or facts”.

    “Shutup” Algore argued.

  3. Demmerkrat Patriot

    However, they don’t pretend to don the mantle of science. Liberals do.

    I would argue that those who claim “Creationism” or “Intelligent Design” as science would not appreciate being called liberals.