There is no place in America more politically conformist than universities. This is odd in and of itself, but when you consider the fact that colleges are supposed to emphasize diversity of thought, skepticism and intellectual vigor and the end result is 98% of permanent residents in the college area precincts voting for the same agenda, election after election, it’s beyond amazing.
So what gives? How can The University of Michigan’s overwhelming political conformity be explained? Of course, the agenda is pure liberalism/progressivism; and while there have been several ideas advanced over time, I think at its base the politics of college precincts follow, like everywhere else, the pocketbook. All you have to do is walk down Main Street Ann Arbor (that’s a real place, not a metaphor) today to understand the phenomenon. When I was a student there in the late 70′s and early 80′s, the country, the state and Ann Arbor were all in economic stress. There were a couple of diners on Main St, and a Crepe restaurant that interested me not. Nearby there were a few shot and beer bars. The crowd was older students and local working class, out after a softball game, or to hear a blues band.
It was in the 70′s that the Federal government started to open the spigot with research grants. By the middle of the 80′s Ann Arbor was a changed place. Not only had the national economy turned around, but downtown A2 had undergone a cultural transformation. White tablecloth restaurants started to spring up. By the 1990′s a full scale remodel was underway. Gone were all the stodgy, midwestern clothing stores that the NYC students found so amusing. In their place came upscale steakhouses and ‘bistros’.
The transformation mirrored the increase in Federal government research grants to the University of Michigan. This year, the university will collect over 1.25 Billion in research grants. For a town of just 114,000 people (a number likely significantly inflated by a transient student population) that means a per person grant of nearly $11,000. For Detroit to receive the same amount per its population of 750,000, the city would need research grants of 8.5 Billion. Wayne State University, Detroit’s only research university, received less than 150 Million.
If you work in Ann Arbor, there’s a very good chance that it will be for the university or one of its offshoots, like the enormous medical center. With almost 11,000 full time faculty and other employees, plus 15,000 graduate students, Michigan easily dominates the local economy. What does the university produce? It produces research. Who pays for the research? We do. The university precincts that amazingly always vote for the same agenda, depend on the enormous generosity of the American taxpayer for their livelihood. That generosity comes of course through the vast powers of the Federal government. Without increased taxes on our productivity and our lack of shame with indebtedness, the University of Michigan would return to the school I attended, and Ann Arbor, then a little town surrounded by farms and a few factories would probably return to the conservative, midwestern town it once was.
The Federal government has been awfully good to The University of Michigan, and by association A2 . As long as their upscales livelihoods depend on big government generosity, Conservatives have no more reason to expect that university precincts will vote Republican than public employee unions will.
Every once in a while the main stream media, the left in other words, picks up on the old meme that Conservatives are anti-science. Their proof of this blasphemy is that some religious conservatives don’t believe in Darwin’s random mutations and natural selection as the mechanisms to explain the enormous diversity of life on planet earth. And lately, they have found a second reason: Skepticism about man made global warming.
Does it really make sense to answer these charges one by one? After all, we only have 24 hours in a day, too, so like everyone we try to spend our time where it makes sense and has an impact. Frankly, it’s nearly a waste of time answering these charges to people who already believe them. To the average progressive, science is something that they proclaim allegiance to when it suits them. When they don’t want to have their children vaccinated, or when they don’t want to hear about sexually transmitted diseases, or when they don’t want to talk about the pollution caused by the manufacture of solar cells, then the allegiance to science falls off pretty fast.
So while we cannot change the minds of progressives on these matters, it probably still makes sense to help other conservatives understand why so many of us have a problem with Darwin and anthropogenic global warming.
What’s the value of a theory that cannot be disproved? From the point of view of hard science, a theory that cannot be disproved is more often the provenance of Dr Spock than Dr Salk. We know that Dr Salk’s vaccine worked. We also know that Newton’s mechanics work; all of the math works. We can run experiments over and over and see the results exactly as Newton theorized. But there were still some problems with Newton’s theories.
Additional work was required and this brings us to Einstein. Einstein built on Newton’s theories and explained the forces of nature in the cosmos. The quantum physicists in turn built on Einstein’s work.
Notice that no one, on any side of the political spectrum, questions Newton, Einstein or the quantum physicists. They discovered incontrovertible truths and over time we have proven them over and over again.
Darwin’s ideas on the other hand still do not have the benefit of being observed in real time. We cannot even model the theory on a computer. Gregor Mendel’s experiments led to some interesting peas, but the peas never became radishes or anything else other than peas. In all the biology laboratories across the world, they have never succeeded in taking one life form and creating another. We run into an upper boundary that prevents the next step. Yet the Darwinian model suggests that all life forms evolve from a prior form, leading back to a single form, the magical Tree of Life idea.
Evolution has some interesting bits. We see the changes that genetic selection can make within a species. But call us skeptical when it comes to the larger ideas of transmutation, of one life form becoming another.
This is but one problem with evolutionary theory. Frankly, we don’t have another theory to replace it, but that does not mean that we are against science. We simply don’t believe that the theory of evolution makes sense at this point. Obviously biologists have a problem in that the evidence is fossilized and difficult to come by, but we still don’t understand why some of this cannot be demonstrated in a laboratory.
Likewise man made global warming seems in many ways similar to the theory of evolution. There is a lot of evidence that the earth has been much warmer and much colder than it currently is and that it goes through climate cycles. So when you hear so called climate experts cherry pick the evidence, it sounds fantastic and politically motivated.
We are no more a scientist than the late great Dr. Science was a scientist (after all he only had a masters degree – in science) but we know bs when we hear it; and that’s what we hear when we hear the experts talk about evolution and climate science.