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Republicans and Democrats Buy Different Types of Science Books

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posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:31 PM
Political theater is lame. The corporate media sucks. Both like to play make-believe. People are naive and gullible. Nobody is doing you any favors. You have been fooled to believe otherwise.

Myopic Political Bubbles Apply to Science Books, Too

Like it or not, science is politics. And despite one party’s attempt to brand itself as the voice for all science, the reality is fans from either side of the ideological spectrum kneel before the altar of data. Or rather, their respective altars. Because Liberals and Conservatives tend to prefer to read about different types of science.

You know who you are and we know who you are. That is all that can be said without offending anyone. At the very least, some like to make a career out of framing political assertions.

The proof is in the perusing. A new study published today in Nature Human Behavior looked at which science books and which political books people shopping at and typically bought together.

The huge consumer dataset revealed some pretty clear trends: Red-tinged readers prefer applied science, like criminology or medicine, while lefties alight upon books that explore science for science’s sake, like zoology, or abstract physics.

And while it’s great that the reasoned examination of facts appeals to everyone, the study seems to suggest that—unsurprisingly, but depressing nonetheless—people seek out the stuff that supports their worldview.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone. What was once a really cool place to get away from the surface world of deceit, is now (for the moment), destined to tear itself apart for reasons not worth mentioning.

If you’ve been to Amazon, you’re probably familiar with one of their most successful sales tactics: Recommending books other customers have bought alongside the one you are currently browsing. The data underlying these suggestions is right there in the open, in Amazon’s API.

This is where I have to pause. There is a dirty trick being played on us and it involves marketing manipulation of the subconscious. The question is, are certain scientific agendas being pushed on the consumer based upon their political beliefs?

Once you take the bait and discover that both your science and political literature seem to coincide with each other, you can either confirm your bias or hopefully learn to question what makes you feel comfortable knowing.

The authors started with a two “seed” books: Barack Obama’s Dreams of My Father, and Mitt Romney’s No Apology. For each, they scraped the top 100 results from the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also” section.

Then they repeated this process with every book on those lists—looking for other books customers bought alongside—and again with the results from those books. They repeated this cycle again and again until they had a complete library of nearly 1.5 million books.

Then they began winnowing out all the political and science-based books, based on’s classification system—many political books are labeled for conservative or liberal readers. In order to delineate subcategories of science, they used the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress systems of categorization.

Another way to interpret the last paragraph is that they already know the mannerisms of political diehards and prey on their inability to see past their own nose. It has gotten so bad that they can recommend specific scientific literature/ideologies based upon how predictable you’ve become.

I must admit, the results are interesting. From the information collected, they found two important general differences between the two, most opposed ideologies.

From that thicket of data, they parsed. “There are two important general differences between the two ideologies,” says Macy. “Liberals tend to be more interested in basic science that is motivated by intellectual puzzles, empirical exercises, philosophical musings, and conservatives are looking for solutions, problem solving, and applied research.” A liberal might be more likely to buy a bundle of books featuring Al Franken and Carl Sagan; while conservative shopping carts would be full of Star Parker and Mary Roach.

The second broad trend is a little more nuanced. Liberals tend to purchase science books that are interesting to anyone who is interested in science, regardless of whether they read political books. And conservatives are more cloistered, preferring science books that are only of interest to people who buy conservative political books.

For instance, a liberal reader of books on environmental science is more likely to read something with broad popular appeal, like Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humbolt’s New World, whereas a conservative reader would go for something more niche, and mostly of interest to other conservative readers, such as Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything.

Remember, I may be opinionated, but don’t shoot the messenger here. Intolerable clamoring from the lowliest of minions, will not and should not be tolerated. Unless of course, you like dancing in circles.

So where’s the common ground? Dinosaurs, mostly. “And perhaps that not too surprising, given that it’s not an area of research that’s particularly politically-charged,” says Macy. Which seems counterintuitive, given the whole creationism thing, but that’s not what the data says.

Physical science topics more generally were the least partisan, followed by life sciences—biology, environmental science, zoology—and finally the social sciences, like psychology, which might as well have trenches.

Do you understand yet, ATS? Sure enough, what IS lacking, are the topics that most of us agree on the most. The goal is not to eradicate disagreements, but to dilute the topics that we disagree on most with topics that we all generally agree with.

To make myself clear, keep doing what you’re doing, but at least do more to generate content and further discussion relating to other, more agreeable topics. Agreeable in the sense that there is a more obvious foundation that cannot be disputed by any one ideology. A realm of absolutes (until we prove it wrong, lol).

There is no doubt that we have intelligent people perusing the political forums. Wouldn’t you just love to see them take a break and put their energy towards stimulating the less motivated by getting involved in other, currently less popular forums? Some did at one point and the loss of product, resulting from their loss of interest, has left a void.

edit on 3-4-2017 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

This thread has been moved from the Mud Pit.....Reaffirming Our Desire For Productive Political Debate (REVISED)
edit on Tue Apr 4 2017 by DontTreadOnMe because: thread move

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:32 PM
To be fair, the Amazon data has it’s limitations, so they applied the same research methods to the Barnes & Noble website.

“The biggest is that we don’t have individual-level purchase data,” says Macy. They had to draw their conclusions from broad aggregate trends, which could mean they are missing nuances in Amazon’s algorithm that could be skewing the data one way or anther.

To account for this, they repeated the entire experiment on Barnes & Noble’s online store. Interestingly, the two websites did not share a high number of people making the exact same co-purchases of this political book to that science book. However, the high level correlation between political ideology and scientific discipline held.

As a bonus, the researchers decided to investigate other potential partisan divides. I have not checked the website out yet, but feel as though I should include their findings. Maybe we can fight over what we disagree with, proving their case in point?

They maintain a website called where they rate things like sports teams, professional wrestlers, and TV shows based on users’ Twitter feeds.

“What we’ve found is there’s a strong correlation between ideology and cultural preferences that have seemingly nothing to do with ideology.” For instance, if enough people who follow ideologically conservative accounts like @realDonaldTrump and @FoxNews also follow @ChickfilA and @BigBangTheory, that fast food restaurant and that TV show also get grouped as conservative cultural touchstones.

To Macy, these cultural trends seem to match what’s happening in science. “We don’t know for sure, but we speculate that lots of interest in science is politically-motivated, and people are interested in reading about science that supports their political views,” he says.

Yeah, that’s pretty sad. Especially if you’re on the outside looking in. Disconnected, but at the same time liberated from what everyone else seems at odds with. The beginning of a new understanding. I would also agree and speculate that certain interests in science, do stem from a politically motivating force. Some may feel as if they’re doing their “brand” justice by carrying a little water for the cause.

If scientists want to do a better job of making their research more accessible—which they probably should if they don’t want their line of work targeted by the same kind of ideological philocide currently being perpetuated against climate science—they should try to preach beyond their own choir.


edit on 3-4-2017 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:43 PM
Why did you put this in the Pit?

The political steerage of science for personal profit is one of the ugliest things going, but it's a genuine conspiracy topic.

Interesting that you found further manipulation by/at Amazon ... but, not really ... damn!! I just never picked up on that subtlety.

Ss&F (as usual).

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:51 PM

originally posted by: eisegesis
Political theater is lame. The corporate media sucks. Both like to play make-believe. People are naive and gullible. Nobody is doing you any favors. You have been fooled to believe otherwise.

Myopic Political Bubbles Apply to Science Books, Too

There is no doubt, what what I can see, that we have intelligent people that like to peruse the political forums. Wouldn’t you just love to see them take a break and put their energy towards stimulating the less motivated here to get involved in other, currently less popular forums? Some did at one point and the loss of product, resulting from their loss of interested, has left a void.

I agree, the void grows bigger and bigger here at ATS. I also see the good sides of this... that MSM is now struggling to find refuge in conspiracy sites, because propaganda is less attributed to when it hits the interwebs.

Its tough for me to even type in political threads anymore... I don't even read them. And, yes, it does feel like the ATS historians that mentored myself are long gone, as adult daycare is a bit too much of a stretch to find good motivations to keep typing for. I try to delve into deep and expanded thoughts and exchange, but grow dizzy to all the direction naming and divide. People are clearly in 'Protect Home' mode at the cost of ignoring what may be good for future generations.

As far as the study, unless someone's vote is digitally sent to each Amazon's account upon purchase, I find it extremely difficult to accurately assess that the kind of books one buys in comparison to their political views is any bit accurate. I feel this aspect feeds into the points you make about clueless Americans.

I ignore what you and all people say when divide is created. I just smile, nod vertically, and reflect on being content that there is still craziness that matches or exceeds my own. Maybe that way, the gratification of people wanting to feel like they figured out the best options & they're more well read and intelligent than the next person is easier satisfied? I could care less what I think about the books I read, let alone what another thinks, or even expanded to what a computer interface feels my political views are.
edit on 3-4-2017 by ttobban because: spelling

edit on 3-4-2017 by ttobban because: incomplete sentence...

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:51 PM
a reply to: eisegesis

Great find and a interesting read ...
... It kind of makes sense especially when I read through comment sections .

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:57 PM
Wait, republicans buy science books? Not published by Exxon?

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:03 PM
a reply to: eisegesis

Good info, nice message.


posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:04 PM
I read zombie books from amazon for the Kindle... I like to call it speculative science.
Ive ordered and read Obama's "dreams" book as well as Michelle Malkins culture of corruption. There is NO way for them to know my political views... and pretty absurd for them to assume they do.

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:10 PM
Cool thread. Good thing; it's been getting dry around here lately.

Sounds like everyone needs to get all kinds of books. And with a particular emphasis on social psychology, developmental psychology, etc, where available to bridge the gap between everyone. We're all more alike than anything not, regardless of ideology.

Thrift stores can be beyond belief the grade and range of books that can be had for as cheap as $0.25. The mom & pop shops are the best. I have about 1,000 print books. No joke. Thanks to the thrift stores in particular. Used book stores nearby universities can also be a choice spot. Then there's my digital books armada; we wont even go there LOL.

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:12 PM
My wishlist is pretty eclectic given my line of work. I am exposed to all kinds of titles and have time to peruse book descriptions and samples when I am at work, so I tend to add books that interest me or that I think might interest Teikiatsu when I am on slow days.

I generally don't have a lot of political books there as many of them are of limited use. Much of my Thomas Sowell books are economics texts with one or two essay books, for example.

In general, my political reading is confined to editorials and blogs and news sites. I don't see the point of buying political books which are going to be outdated and of limited re-read value.

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:12 PM
We've gotten past the religious doctrine of dinosaurs being 6000 years old... now we gotta deal with the social doctrine of 47 different genders.

1 step forward, 2 steps back?

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:31 PM
a reply to: eisegesis

I have a hard time believing that democrats or republicans actually read non fiction.

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:50 PM
Sorry, that first draft was horrendous. It was either I continue to proofread or let the chicken and broccoli alfredo get cold.

Thank you for the replies.

Parallel Narratives

This is how they organize.

These are the topics they discuss.

These are the journalists they communicate with.

When Donald Trump swept to victory in the Electoral College on Nov. 8, perhaps no group was more surprised than journalists, who had largely bought into the polls showing Hillary Clinton was consistently several percentage points ahead in key swing states.

But there may be another reason they didn’t see it coming: Journalists spend a lot of time on Twitter, and their information bubble rarely includes Trump supporters. That’s according to a new analysis from the Electome project at the MIT Media Lab provided exclusively to VICE News.

MIT’s analysis — which used the social media company’s complete data set — shows that on Twitter, Trump supporters formed a particularly insular group when talking about politics during the general election. They had few connections to Clinton supporters or the mainstream media. By contrast, Clinton supporters were more splintered and verified journalists often overlapped within their mutual follower networks.

The data cannot draw any definitive conclusions about why Twitter users became so polarized during the 2016 campaign, but it does provide a striking look at how they did. Perhaps journalists’ more Clinton-oriented Twitter networks expose a subtle form of political bias, or perhaps Trump supporters separated themselves from these users to avoid inconvenient facts.

“All of this paints a bleak picture of online political discourse,” said John West, a data journalist at the MIT Media Lab who worked on the study. “It is one balkanized by ideology and issue-interest, with little potential for information flow between the online cocoons — or between the loud and important cluster of exclusive Trump followers and the institutionalized media users that are supposed to be political discourse’s immune system.”

edit on 3-4-2017 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 09:56 PM
a reply to: ttobban

As far as the study, unless someone's vote is digitally sent to each Amazon's account upon purchase, I find it extremely difficult to accurately assess that the kind of books one buys in comparison to their political views is any bit accurate.

I agree. Consider a family of 3, Dad buys a "red tinged book" but son buys some humanities book all on the same Dads Visa card transaction- how do you measure that?

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 10:00 PM
According to the data in your O.P., conservatives and liberals like different types of science. This could support the idea that they think differently, which has been researched before. If that is the case, they are probably both necessary for a successful country to function.

I don't think there is some dark conspiracy to brainwash liberals with science (or whatever your O.P. is trying to say). The reason liberals buy certain books is because they like them. That is the same reason conservatives buy certain books.

I don't know why your article tries to make it sound like certain sciences like Zoology are not useful. It is trying to demonize the sciences that liberals like so that it can then say, look liberals are demons because they like this kind of science, which I just defined as demonic.

The idea of a political / social bubble is one that applies to everyone, not just liberals or conservatives. It is definitely something that is amplified by internet use, as the internet is built in such a way that it is easy to get lost in a bubble (for everyone, not just liberals.)

However, based on all of the research posted in your O.P., I have to conclude that liberals book choices are based on the way they think, not being lost in a bubble. When I buy a book on Amazon I first think of a topic I would like to know more about (and this is rarely politically motivated) and then I search for books about it.

Maybe I like fantasy novels, that isn't because I am a liberal, but because I enjoy them. And I'm certainly not lost in a "fantasy bubble"

As I said, conservatives like applied science and liberals like theoretical science? Or something? It's probably based on brain wiring in this case.
edit on 03pmMon, 03 Apr 2017 22:09:31 -0500kbpmkAmerica/Chicago by darkbake because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 10:12 PM
a reply to: darkbake

As for encouraging people to buy books outside of the norm, this is a good idea, but don't forget that conservatives will also have to bite the bullet and buy books about that oh-so-scary theoretical science.

My bookshelf is filled with TONS of math, physics, and computer science textbooks, among others. Math might be one of those "liberal" sciences because it is "theoretical" and not "applied" but whatever, seriously, science needs both.
edit on 03pmMon, 03 Apr 2017 22:12:50 -0500kbpmkAmerica/Chicago by darkbake because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 10:32 PM
a reply to: ColdWisdom
I have a hard time believing people read, period. Spelling and grammar (even on this site) is severely lacking.

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 10:38 PM
a reply to: SargonThrall

That's true, at least people are buying books. On science, nonetheless!

posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 10:41 PM
a reply to: TheConstruKctionofLight

It's impossible to accurately measure without speculation... speculation to a possible large degree.

Isn't that what feeds the point of it though? Kind of like saying, duh... if one is willing to buy into this study as a credible knowledge source in the 1st place, then the signs to move on beyond that input as credible is quite easy to assess.

I purchased the book: Demo'Crips' and Re'bloodlicans'. I just asked Alexa if I can trust her to keep my voting private... I did not like the response she gave...

posted on Apr, 4 2017 @ 12:23 AM
a reply to: eisegesis

I don't think I fit.

I wouldn't take the bait. I can't imagine reading anything by Obama, Romney, the current President and very few of the past Presidents; although I did enjoy some of Kennedy's books. I don't mind reading about Presidents and Politicians of the early 60's and before.

I'm old and pretty much lean right on most things but it's mostly Science Fiction all the way particularly Dystopian type Space Opera, Military, Steampunk, Cyberpunk and Adventure.

I can't stand TV anymore and very few online sites appeal. I watch DVDs, online movies and online anime on my Notebook. I like Amazon Kindle and will sometimes read dozens of books in a monthly binge.

As far as science books I go for Physics, Medical, Computers and Plants. When I was younger I liked to sit with old folks and record folklore. I can sit and watch machines work, facinated how someone figured how to build them. I particularly like band organs and mechanical puppets of the previous centuries.

Richard Feynman's books, lectures and other stuff were fun.

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