Saturday, June 11, 2016

Chart: On Twitter, Senate Democrats read more science than Republicans

The Economist has published a bubble chart comparing the ideological leaning of U.S. senators (X-axis) to the amount of science-related Twitter accounts they follow (Y-axis). I immediately spotted Jim Inhofe, a conservative who got famous for calling climate change a “hoax”.

In one of those sad paradoxes of modern American politics, Inhofe chairs the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. He is one of the most strident anti-science leaders these days, which is quite an accomplishment considering how anti-science the political landscape is already. Inhofe is one of those folks who aren't happy with just now knowing; his ilk* goes a step beyond that by refusing even the possibility of learning. I guess that they are happy with the post-fact presidential nominee they have fostered: Three quarters –give or take– of his statements are blatant lies.

Rants aside, The Economist chart is based on this paper, which contains many other graphics: Bar charts, tables, network diagrams, etc. The researchers made their data available, in case you want to check it or transform this into a class project.

CORRECTION: On Twitter, Randy Olson points out that following doesn't equal reading, and he's right. The title of this post should use that verb instead. Still, the pattern the chart reveals is surprisingly consistent.

*Just to clarify, this is independent of ideology.