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Neil Degrasse-Tyson Corrects Bill Maher’s Assertion That Conservatives Deny Science “More” Than Liberals

Since we often hear about conservative climate change deniers or religious creationists attempting to get evolution off their school curriculums, it’s very easy to assume that they deny science “more.” But, as Neil Degrasse Tyson points out in the above clip from Real Time with Bill Maher, it’s not a matter of “more,” it’s a matter of “What science are we talking about?”

Tyson brings up the excellent point that while yes, Conservatives tend to be the majority of the people denying things like climate change and evolution, Liberals can be in as much denial about science when it comes to things like medication. The best part is when Maher asks him for examples, then says, “I know one, but I don’t want to get into it.” After all, Maher himself is an avid anti-vaccine proponent, believing vaccines to be responsible for things like autism, which science has repeatedly proved to not be the case.

I’ve gotta say, it’s really hilarious when the usually unbearably smug Maher buttons up as everyone else at the table says “Vaccines!”

Tyson then brings up things like the constant scare tactics surrounding GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the touting of “alternative medicine” as healthier than other medication. As reported by Gizmodo, Maher has frequently had guests on his show that support what they refer to as “quack medicine” without challenging them in the slightest, as in the example of this guest:

Chachoua is the Australian “doctor” who recently treated Charlie Sheen in Mexico with bullshit natural remedies. Sheen later went back on his HIV medication. Maher challenged Chachoua on precisely zero of his assertions and furthered Chachoua’s quack medicine agenda.

Basically, Conservatives tend to deny science that in any way threatens their religious beliefs, or their corporate connections. Liberals tend to deny science that in any way threatens their belief that they’re the smartest in the room and know best how to solve other people’s problems. Hence Conservatives denying things like evolution (but God!) and climate change (but Big Oil!) and Liberals denying lots of medicine and health-related stuff (but no one knows more about things than me! Not even doctors! Because the Internet!).

Both sides of the political spectrum have their blind spots when it comes to science, and getting bogged down in “who does it more” is a useless exercise. What we need to be doing is defending science everywhere: by raising our children to value it, by fighting for funding on a state and national level so that we can make research and innovation in all areas of science a priority, and by generally embracing curiosity for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end (that can later be commodified and paid for). The United States has, for too long, been fighting against a tide of anti-intellectual feeling. We need to start challenging ourselves again.

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.