Over at Crooked Timber (and on his own blog for the Southerners out there) John Quiggin disposes of the argument that left and right pick the science they like, an argument that the right tosses out like used preservatives
But, far more often their response takes the form of a tu quoque or, in the language of the schoolyard, “you’re another”. That is, they seek to argue that the left is just as tribalist and anti-science as the right. Favored examples of alleged left tribalism included any rhetoric directed at rightwing billionaires ( Murdoch, the Kochs and so on). The standard examples of alleged left anti-science are GMOs, nuclear power and anti-vaxerism, but it is also sometimes claimed that US Democrats are just as likely as Republicans to be creationists.Allow Eli to restate his position on GMOs, he eats the shit, as does about everyone on God's green Earth. More details about the position of the blog on GMO's can be found here, and might be summed up as go forward but be observant, which is also our position on nuclear. As to the anti-vaxers, well, Eli will leave that to Respectful Insolence.
There is, in fact, rather useful research that shows that opposition to GMOs is spread across the political spectrum, and if anything, best correlates to sex (nononono ... not the absence thereof, but the fact that guys will shove any piece of pizza they can find into their mouths, women, not so much).
Quiggin points out that tu quoque, or as your mom put it, because your buddy does it, doesn't mean you have to be stupid.
I’ll argue over the fold that these examples don’t work. What’s more important, though, is what the tu quoque argument says about those who deploy it, and their view of politics. The implied claim is that politics is inherently a matter of tribalism and emotion, and that there is no point in complaining about this. The only thing to do is to pick a side and stick to it. What passes for political argument is simply a matter of scoring debating points for your side and demolishing those of the others. So, anyone who uses tu quoque as a defence, rather than seeking to dissuade their own side from tribalist and anti-science rhetoric, deserves no more respect than the tribalists and science deniers themselves, who at least have the defence of ignorance.Go read.