Another diversity problem — scientists’ politics

King’s College London, UK.

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According to your poll before the US presidential election (see Nature 586, 654; 2020), the political leaning of scientists was 86% in favour of Democrat Joe Biden, now president-elect, with just 8% supporting Republican Donald Trump, the outgoing president. However, this finding is glaringly out of step with the voting of the population from which the US scientists were drawn (about 51% versus 47%, respectively).

This misalignment could be attributed to differences in education, understanding and awareness of the issues at stake. But such a gulf risks isolating science further from society at a time when we should be building bridges beyond this election.

As academics become more aware of the importance of diversity of thought, we must be careful not to recreate different forms of the old elitist patterns of collective behaviour recently challenged by anti-racism. Any association of science with political archetypes could turn some against it by enhancing the view that it is an exclusive pursuit.

Nature 588, 220 (2020)

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