Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Putting partisanship in the right place

Partisanship can be used for good
(Flickr Creative Commons: Steve Garwood)

With a quick look at mainstream media outlets, any observer could come to the conclusion that Democrats and Republicans are at each other’s throats. That’s because we live in a time of exceptional political polarization in the United States. But how do we escape the binds of political partisanship?

Surely to become a “better” country, we should seek the best solutions that exist. And when we seek out those solutions to the problems of society, we commonly look to academia—after all, why shouldn’t we? When society fights over an issue such as climate change, we aren’t fighting over something that is intuitive to the human mind. I can, as a human being, no more easily discern the relative concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air than you can. Since none of us can intrinsically understand such a phenomenon, it’s only logical that we would refer to well-read experts—in this case, scientists—in the given field to test and interpret information for us. However, this isn’t a coherent reality for many Americans.

On average, only 31 percent of Republicans in each congressional district within our country believe that climate change is manmade.

Of course, massive scientific organizations, such as NASA, have confirmed the constantly espoused statistic that 97 percent of scientists in the field agree that climate change is accelerating, likely due to human activities. It only took me around three seconds of searching Google to find one of America’s most historically significant scientific government agencies reflecting this view. More research into the matter will lead to more evidence verifying this perspective. As it has been said to an extended degree, “The science has been settled.” But this presents a dilemma which enticed me to make my initial reference to political partisanship: why is it that an issue that is not a question of philosophical differences and subjective morals faces such parity? The answer is partisanship.

Polls have found that around 20 percent of Republicans with a high school education or less are concerned about climate change “a great deal.” When Republicans become educated, however, they become statistically less concerned about climate change, while the concern of Democrats increases. The New York Times argues that despite the prevailing consensus in academia when it comes to climate change, increased political partisanship as a result of increased education seems to be more responsible for the changes in Republican views on this issue rather than scientific consensus. Climate change is but one example of the issue of partisanship—an issue that, despite my frustration with the American right-wing, I must admit is a bipartisan plague. In the eyes of the American public, as the Times article states, climate change is a political battle as opposed to a scientific one.

I personally doubt that human beings will ever be able to fully extract themselves from tribe mentality. But if we are to decide on issues of objective truth, such as climate change, then it is imperative that we give academia the deference it deserves. One of the big hills of partisanship that we have come to tackle in America recently deals directly with the ever-looming shadow of the unscientific tribal stance that rears its ugly head in American politics. Let me be clear—this is not solely a left versus right issue. While I personally am of the belief that much of the American right-wing ideology would be eroded away by a new emphasis on valuing science, an article by The Conversation on vaccine mythology by political association shows that both political extremes assume the unscientific stance that vaccines are unsafe.

It’s imperative that we as a country make it clear that even though we cannot extricate tribesmanship from our species, we can use it to a better cause. If issues such as climate change are politicized in such a way that the two sides that form are acceptance or denial of science, we should aim to shift that dogma. Instead of the political parties fighting over whether or not science is true, they should be more concerned about adhering to strong, clear scientific thought and theory. Although there are many questions that will be difficult to answer in our heated political climate, matters of pure objective truth in the scientific space are not as difficult to solve. Through the fostering of a political environment that almost irrationally seeks to cater to scientific consensus, we can at the very least begin to wipe away some of the political issues that burden our society without complex moral afterthought.

Shahen Melkonian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

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  • N

    NITZAKHONMar 31, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    The Stunning Statistical Fraud Behind The Global Warming Scare

    NO explanation of why these adjustments are necessary.

    NO explanation of how the adjustments are calculated.

    NO transparency on methodology.

    Which, to anyone who understands the scientific method, is the precise antithesis of science.

  • R

    RMar 21, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    The place for partisanship is in the comments section – specifically half-baked far-right partisanship. Yawn…

  • E

    Ed CuttingMar 21, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    Let me see: DDT, Thalimide (which caused horrendous birth defects), Asbestos, Lead-based Paint, Lead-Lined Water Pipes, Cadmium Hip Joints, Silicone Breast Implants, Cyclamates, Saccrine, Alar and other pesticides, Creosote, 1st Generation Pressure-Treated Wood with Arsenic, etc.
    That’s just a short list of when science was wrong in the past 50 years, but the worst was MBTE. The EPA first required Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) to be added to gasoline in the 1990s to help clean up the air. A decade later, they banned it because it was contaminating wells used for drinking water — causing big time problems that linger today.
    My point: The scientists are often WRONG!!!

  • J

    John aimoMar 21, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    The author goes on about ‘tribalism’ Liberals are the most tribal people and you could argue in many ways try to bring back primitive things to civilization and call it ‘enlightenment’ like collectivism, , like censorship. They also create the ‘tribes’ by categorizing everyone into class, race and gender and by creating new genders, what are there 72 genders now? Before liberals tried to separate people into our country into all these different groups and then bully anyone as a ‘racist’ or ‘nazi’ who disagreed, there was just one tribe in America. It was called being an American and there was only one race that people belonged to, it was called being a human being.

    Now liberals have created great division in our country and there are like 10 tribes. The author and liberals need to get off their high horse and their arrogant stupidity that they think they are so enlightened and only their education(also known as propaganda) will change the world.

    All liberals do is bring a torch to anywhere they go, every university, every society, every nation(look at the 20th century, almost communist country collapsed); they diminish the standards, make people tribal and often enough ruin and destroy.

    • S

      Shahen MelkonianMar 21, 2018 at 6:25 pm

      Hi, I’m the author, and you seem to be a troll, but I’ll respond to you anyways, point by point.

      1. Tribalism is synonymous with group think. It doesn’t refer to the state of being of an actual primitive tribe.
      2. I argue that Liberals are also tribal. Did you even read my article bruh? My argument has to do with directing tribalism, not rejecting it. Despite your misreading of my article, I in fact do not believe that Liberals are above tribalism.
      3. The idea that you would hold the ideological position relative to the CONSERVATIVE COLLECTIVE and act as if you reject collectivism is a hoot. We live in an individualist society, both Conservatives and Liberals believe in individualist policy, and also don’t. The idea that Liberals are purely “collectivist” while Conservatives are purely “collectivist” is revisionist history in every sense of the phrase.
      4. Liberals are not solely responsible for censorship. Again you’re taking a human action, a thing that both political persuasions engage in, and simply applying it to Liberals because you’re so blinded by partisanship you can’t even recognize a call to compromise. I would say this is ironic, but this is exactly what I’ve come to expect.
      5. Are you seriously suggesting that LIBERALS CREATED TRIBES? You’re a special kind of stupid to think that “muh Liberals” are the progenitors of human nature.
      6. Gender is on a spectrum dude. It’s just a slider of masculine traits and behaviors vs. female ones. It’s nothing new, and almost all people identify as men or women. Why are you so frightened by different people?
      7. “There was just one tribe in America.” This is just insulting. America has a non-stop history, stretching to TODAY of some people being considered lesser human beings even by AMERICAN LAW because of their: race, ethnicity, gender, religion, socio-economic status, etc. The idea that America was a single tribe of completely like-minded people that completely respected each other before “muh Liberals” came along is ignorant. Read a history book.
      8. Not all Liberals label everyone as a nazi or racist. There are people that use these labels excessively, but it’s not the majority of Liberals.
      9. Education is propaganda. Christ. Did you inject liquid Fox News into your bloodstream or something?
      10. Liberals ARE NOT communists. The “Liberal Party” in the United States would be considered far, far right to any communist country. This is especially insulting because my parents were refugees from the former Soviet Union. To compare Liberals to the like of Vladimir Putin or Pol Pot or Mao Zedong is an insult of which you should be ashamed to levy.
      11. Yeah yeah liberals burn everything to the ground. Whatever troll, go read a real history book and get back to me.

    • N

      NITZAKHONMar 22, 2018 at 5:49 am

      Divide and conquer. One of the oldest tricks in the book.

  • N

    NITZAKHONMar 21, 2018 at 9:28 am

    It helps the case when NASA / NOAA fabricate and falsify data.

    • S

      Shahen MelkonianMar 21, 2018 at 6:10 pm

      Hi, I’m the author. Citation please. And from a reputable source.

    • N

      NITZAKHONMar 22, 2018 at 5:51 am

      Also, the “97%” figure that she cites has been:

      1. Thoroughly debunked
      2. Never replicated through proper verification and validation techniques

      I see a bright future for the author parroting the Left’s line on the Fake News Network or the New York Times-Traitor.