NTS Program for March

Saturday, 12 March, 2 p.m.

Meadows Center, 2900 Live Oak Street In Dallas

What do the following have in common?

  • Organic foods
  • GMO
  • Anti-vaccination
  • Power lines
  • Nuclear power

These are matters that dog political liberals, who cling to concepts that deserve additional skepticism.

  1. Liberals (as opposed to conservatives) are more inclined to believe unsupported claims for organically-grown food.
  2. Concerning aversion to genetically-modified organisms (food), liberals lead the way over conservatives.
  3. While both conservatives and liberals are involved in the anti-vaccination phobia, liberals distrust the scientific evidence to an extent unbecoming.
  4. The power line scare is a big bugaboo of liberals, not so much conservatives.
  5. Liberals are unduly fearful of nuclear power, as opposed to conservatives, who voice fewer objections.

We’re going to discuss these and other skeptical issues that of the American left.

Start with liberals and organic food.

Here’s the result of a poll published in The Washington Post:

Poll: Those most likely to eat organic are young, rich or liberal

 August 18, 2014

You might be a jerk if you eat organic food, but you’re also probably living in a city or out West.

According to a Gallup poll, about half of all U.S. adults “actively” seek to add organic food to their diets, whereas 15 percent avoid it.

The July poll of about 1,000 adults across the country found that Americans most likely to eat organic are in the West, live in a city, are 18 to 29 years old, vote Democrat or have an annual household income greater than $75,000. Those most likely to avoid organic foods are basically the opposite: those who live in the East, live in more rural parts, are age 65 or older, vote Republican or have an annual household income less than $30,000.

The report published the following chart:


Then, there is the matter of GMO.

Here’s an item from Discover Magazine:

There has been recent talk about GMOs and political orientation recently. Keith Kloor has pointers to the appropriate places. The general impression on all sides seems to be that elite voices against genetically modified organisms are on the Left.To my knowledge this is correct, especially in the United States. But is this true more broadly? We can use the General Social Survey to explore this further. It has a series of questions relating to genetically modified organisms. All except one were asked in 2006 (the exception was 2010).

For replication here are the variables:


Column: POLVIEWS(r:1-3″Liberal”;4″Moderate”;5-7″Conservative”)

There results are presented below (rows add up to 100% for each question).

Attitudes toward genetically modified foods by ideology in the general social survey




Next: liberals and the anti-vaccine movement.

Again, an item from The Washington Post:

The biggest myth about vaccine deniers: That they’re all a bunch of hippie liberals

 January 26, 2015

The dangerous problem of vaccine denial is getting more and more attention — thanks, sadly, to an outbreak of measles (an extremely contagious, vaccine-preventable disease) that began at Disneyland in southern California late last year.

At the same time, research is focusing on how clusters of people who don’t vaccinate their kids pose perhaps the greatest risk — a new study in Pediatrics finds that many of these clusters are in very politically liberal areas of California like “northern San Francisco and southern Marin County.”

Here’s the thing, though: We shouldn’t leap from this evidence to the assumption that refusing vaccinations is a special phenomenon driven by the ideology of the political left. There are also religious groups with low vaccination rates that have seen measles outbreaks, for instance, such as theAmish in Ohio and Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn — not groups that you could reasonably call “left wing.” And then, there’s rejection of the HPV vaccine in particular, which tends to be associated with the religious right.

And here’s a chart that went with the article:


The great power line scare

We did this one back in 1995:

Paul Brodeur has been a writer for The New Yorker for 35 years, and has published several books on issues of environmental hazards, including Currents of Death, The Zapping of America, and Asbestos and Enzymes. His book The Great Power-Line Cover-up (Little, Brown and Company, paperback, 351 pages, $12.95) was published in 1993, and an updated edition was released earlier this year.

The story according to Brodeur begins with “The Calamity on Meadow Street.” Two hundred and fifty yards long with only nine houses, Meadow Street in Guilford, CT, has had more than its share of cancer cases since the 1970s. It didn’t take the residents long to spot the culprit, a prominent electric substation on the street. After explaining the travails of the Meadow Street residents, the author spends the remainder of the book detailing his evidence that man-made electromagnetic fields in general and power lines specifically are a cause of cancer in humans.


An item from Canada is more recent:

Federal Liberals jump on power line controversy

The federal Liberal election campaign wasted no time including health concerns from the controversial new power lines in Tsawwassen.

Finally, liberals and nuclear power

I go to Science Blogs for the following posting:

Are liberals against nuclear power more than conservatives? Yes

Posted by Razib Khan on July 25, 2008

Because of the increased prices in gasoline and the perception of scarcity in terms of power, there has been a lot of talk about nuclear. There have been many comments of late from the Right that the Left is opposed to the utilization of nuclear power, and often gleeful the observation that many European countries such as France and Sweden are highly reliant on this technology. But is it true that liberals are more averse to nuclear than conservatives? I checked the GSS for the following questions:

– Nuclear power dangerous to the environment?
– Likelihood of nuclear meltdown in 5 years?
– Nuclear power a danger to my family?

The tables below show the proportion of various ideologies in terms of responses to these questions. The responses to the left are more nuclear skeptical than those to the right.




UPDATE 11 March 2016

Alternative medicine

Apparently liberals embrace alternative medicine to some degree. Bernie Sanders, even Hillary Clinton have shown support in the past:

Although Sanders avoids mentioning alternative medicine in his current campaign literature, his long history of support of alternative medicine is pretty clear.  As Time magazine has reported, Sanders has adopted alternative medicine since he started his political career in Vermont.

An article in the journal Integrative Medicine (definitely an alternative medicine promoting journal ) bemoaned the fact that in 2015, the loss of the US Senate to the Republicans would lead to Bernie Sanders losing his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

What’s this got to do with alternative medicine you ask? The article states that “Bernie Sanders … is credited with inserting the licensed complementary and alternative medicine professions into the workforce Section 5101 of the Affordable Care Act. He’s also a strong advocate for vast expansion of access to integrative services across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).”