Liberals and Conservatives Are Reading Totally Different Science Books

In a new study, researchers were hoping science would be a bridge. That didn’t happen.

By Farnia Fekri | MOTHERBOARD

Donald Trump’s stunning win over Hillary Clinton in the US election woke large factions of liberals to the fact that they didn’t understand their counterparts—and vice versa. Anyone who’s sat with a slightly racist, well-meaning uncle over Thanksgiving dinner knows the feeling.

The election showed that the dangerous echo chambers that keep people from interacting with—or understanding—their ideological opposites don’t end with Twitter and Facebook. Information bubbles of conservatives and liberals are affecting the kinds of science texts they consume: a new study in Nature Human Behaviour analyzed millions of books purchased online and found a divide between what liberals and conservatives are reading.

„The backdrop is the increasing political polarization of the population,“ Michael Macy, one of the authors and a sociologist at Cornell University, told me. „We were curious to know if perhaps science could be a bridge across the political divide. After all, science is really about the pursuit of truth, regardless of whether the truth is politically convenient.“

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