Science, the religious right and inequality

Science, politics and religion have often been intertwined over the course of history. Think of the Muslim Golden Age and the subsequent lack of tolerance for science in the Muslim world, or the Roman Inquisition and its effects on people like Galilei. For a more recent example, one can look at the US where the religious right likes to stall advances in science (e.g. creationism, stem cell research, climate change denial).

Why is science sometimes the enemy of, other times tolerated by the church? Why do the US and European political landscapes differ so much, with the former much less enthusiastic about redistribution and much more willing to let religion influence politics? And how does income inequality affect the dynamics between science, religion and politics? Read on to find out.

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Can the world be divided up into civilizations?

Political scientist Samuel Huntington predicted in his 1996 book that conflicts in the future are going to be due to cultural and civilizational as opposed to ideological or economic differences. He then proceeded to divide the world up into some major civilization groups.

In this post, using answers to the World Values Survey I check whether the data supports Huntington’s civilizations.

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Political beliefs and intelligence

The level of education one has is correlated with many things, chief amongst them is probably intelligence.  It also has a good explanatory power for the political leanings of people. This has been documented in both rich and transition countries.

An interesting to question consider would be to see whether one can somehow explain certain political positions with level of intelligence. Of course, this is obviously a very sensitive topic. But the role of science is not to judge, but to find answers.

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Does social media matter for elections?

Is campaigning on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook overrated? Did politicians and their teams fall victim to a buzzword?

The short answer is perhaps, because it seems that social media presence does not have a very large effect on election outcomes. So it is entirely possible that some politicians are overinvesting in their social media campaigns.

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What happens after the elections?

Have you ever wondered how our politicians act once they’re elected? Do they live up to their promises? Do they just vote for whatever their party tells them to vote for or do they have a mind of their own? If so, are there Republicans out there who vote more with Democrats than with their own party and vice versa? Who is really a maverick politican? Or what states are the most polarized politically?

This post will answer some of these questions and more for the Senate of the 109th Congress. That is the Congress from January 2005 to January 2007. The data is thus a little bit dated but on the plus side we’ll have such big names as Obama, Santorum or Clinton in our list of Senators.

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