Conservative belief in science at all time low.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Apr 03, 2012 11:00 PM GMT
    http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/01/opinion/la-ed-science-conservatives-distrust-20120401


    LA timesWith so many scientific issues becoming battlefields in the culture wars — from climate change to stem-cell research to evolution (see above) — we hardly needed a new study to tell us that scientists have become a favorite target of the right. Yet a paper written by University of North Carolina doctoral fellow Gordon Gauchat and published last week in the American Sociological Review also contains a highly counterintuitive finding.


    Common sense, as well as past research, suggests that distrust of science correlates with lack of education; the less education a person has, the more likely he or she will favor traditional beliefs or religious dogma over scientific evidence. There's even an academic name for this theory: the "deficit model" of scientific literacy. When it comes to modern conservatives, however, the deficit model does not apply.

    Analyzing results from the General Social Survey, which has been conducted by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center since 1972, Gauchat found that for conservatives with college degrees, trust in science declined more over time than it did forconservatives with only a high school degree. (This was not true for liberals or moderates, whose views on science have been relatively static for decades.)

    How did this happen? Gauchat theorizes that it came about because the most educated conservatives are also the most politically engaged and the most likely to seek information that conforms to their ideology — and in recent years they've been able to find it in spades. Right-wing think tanks, funded by corporate interests to undermine the scientific consensus on such expensive-to-fix phenomena as climate change, have proliferated, as have conservative cable-TV networks, blogs and radio talk shows. In general, these outlets are talking to a well-educated audience. And they're presenting a very one-sided view of scientific issues.

    The results are dramatic. In 1974, people who identified themselves as conservatives were the most likely group to have a high degree of trust in science; now they're the least trustful. As Gauchat argues, this can probably be blamed on both the growing influence of the religious right, which rejects scientific contradictions of religious teachings on such issues as evolution and stem-cell research, and the growing use of science to inform public policy in such areas as environmental protection. Conservatives, ever wary of government interference with the free market, started to resent the scientists whose findings suggested such interference was necessary. Rather than debate remedies, they have turned on science itself.

    Science doesn't just produce useful gadgets; it has propelled the advance of human society from the dawn of civilization to the modern world. Its politicization is a worrisome step backward.
  • tazzari

    Posts: 2939

    Apr 03, 2012 11:06 PM GMT
    Not that surprising, sorry to say. Why think when you can believe?

    Except that screws everyone else up in the process...
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    Apr 04, 2012 5:28 AM GMT
    Well, the Repub propaganda machine has been attacking science (and education in general) for decades.

    Having a dumber electorate makes it easier for the Repubs to trick folks into voting Repub!
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19138

    Apr 04, 2012 5:53 AM GMT
    RickRick91 saidWell, the Repub propaganda machine has been attacking science (and education in general) for decades.

    Having a dumber electorate makes it easier for the Repubs to trick folks into voting Repub!



    Yes, everyone knows the Republicans HATE Science...and babies...puppies...kittens...and anything that even remotely resembles a Koala Bear icon_rolleyes.gif