Tuesday, November 24, 2009

More on a Darwinian outlook

To continue the summary and replication of Jason Malloy's analysis of attitudes toward science and social liberalism, I put together a table of standardized OLS regression coeffiicients which allow us to see which predictors are most powerful.

The "Sci-Fund" measure was constructed by Jason to both capture a mistrust of science and to maximize sample size. You can see that it is associated with more conservative attitudes (being against abortion on demand, sex between kids ages 14-16, extramrital sex, homosexual sex, and being in favor of laws against porn).

It is clear that people who trust science also tend to have liberal sexual attitudes.

On the other hand, it is not significantly associated with behavior--the number of offspring (that analysis was limited to those ages 45-69) or the number of sexual partners in the past year.

In the earlier analysis, I found that supporting science had a negative but non-significant effect on number of offspring, and Jason subsequently found a significant negative effect that disappeared when education was entered into the equation.

There is a little evidence here that support for science is associated with fewer kids, but we're far afield from what I was suggesting earlier. I hypothesized that a Darwinian worldview might increase fertility. To my mind, there is a profound difference between an ordinary person who trusts what scientists do, or who passively accepts evolution, and someone whose worldview and ideology are informed by Darwinism.

I don't have a measure of evolutionary-informed ideology, but I suspected you might see it more often among people who do biology.

The main criticism of my earlier analysis was that physicians have different personalities than scientists, so I reanalyzed the data with the practitioners removed.  Critics were correct that physicians boosted the mean number of offspring: Once they were omitted, it was 1.48 for the biologists and 1.72 for the computer, math, and physical scientists. (The difference is not statistically significant).

So maybe I'm off here, but it might be that we just need a more valid measure of Darwinian ideology. Honestly, I suggested the idea because it fits my story. When I was a liberal atheist, I accepted the theory of evolution but my worldview was save-the-world humanist, so I didn't need to look to Darwin to give me direction. When I began to reject all that schlock, I was open to new ways of thinking. I considered  and rejected hedonism/libertarianism and found myself drawn to a Darwin-inspired worldview--life is about my descendants (and those of my kin). That theme led me to paleoconservatism and conservative Christianity (my roots). But hey, I could simply be an odd duck. I've been called that once or twice before.


  1. If you're an odd duck, so am I; I came to traditional philosophy and religion by exactly the same route.

  2. Anonymous4:02 AM

    Inductivist, I have to ask, are you a Catholic?


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