Monday, November 3, 2014

Science as a Guide?

As I just submitted a piece of research to a journal, I'm mulling over my next pathbreaking study. In the meantime, I was looking through some of my data and came across this gem.  Here's the question:
When trying to solve important problems, how often should the government rely on scientific approaches? [always, most of the time, about half the time, some of the time, never / never, some of the time, about half the time, most of the time, or always]
You'd like to think a reasonable person would say at least "most of the time" or, at worst, "about half the time." Prepared to be disappointed. In a national survey, the results were:
  • Never -- 4.2 percent
  • Some of the Time -- 33.7 percent
  • About Half of the Time -- 23.8 percent
  • Most of the Time -- 27.7 percent
  • Always -- 10.5 percent
It's that "never" group that scares the crap out of me. The "Always" group?  They don't scare me. I think of them as the Sheldon Cooper Clan. If I have time, I'll actually break down some of the demographics and political leanings of these various folks. There may not be a formal academic paper in there, but there's gotta be a good blog post or essay or column hidden away in the data. With luck, I can follow up on this Tuesday.

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