Larregue’s Critique of Cofnas et al. (2017): A Rejoinder

Published on Jun 1, 2018in The American Sociologist
· DOI :10.1007/s12108-018-9372-6
Nathan Cofnas5
Estimated H-index: 5
(Balliol College),
Noah Carl8
Estimated H-index: 8
(Nuffield College)
Data from the General Social Survey indicate that conservatives’ self-reported trust in scientists has steadily decreased since 1974. In Cofnas et al. (The American Sociologist, 2017), we suggested that this trend may have been partly driven by the increasing tendency of scientific institutions, and the representatives of such institutions, to distort social science for the sake of liberal activism. Larregue (The American Sociologist, 2017) makes three opposing arguments: (1) It is “very hard” to establish the charge of bias, especially since we did “not state what [we] mean by ‘bias.’” (2) We did not establish a causal relationship between scientists’ (alleged) liberal activism and conservatives’ distrust of science, and we ignored activism by conservative scientists. (3) We were wrong to advocate “affirmative action” for conservatives in academia. We address these arguments in turn: (1) Larregue does not engage with our main arguments that liberal bias exists in social science. (2) In recent years, prominent scientific organizations have, with great publicity, intervened in policy debates, always supporting the liberal side without exception. It is not unreasonable to assume that this would diminish conservatives’ trust in these organizations. Contra Larregue, in Cofnas et al. (The American Sociologist, 2017) we explicitly acknowledged that conservative scientists can also be biased. (3) We never advocated “affirmative action” for conservatives, and in fact we object to such a proposal.
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