A recent study says maybe a little, but not much-- and it depends on the issue.
By Lee Jussim, Psychology Today
Who is more anti-science, liberals or conservatives? There are at least two very different ways to think about this question: 1. Whose beliefs are more out of touch with science? and 2. Whose level of (dis)trust in science is more well-justified? This is the first of a series of blog entries that will deal with these and related issues.
So who engages in more science-denial -- liberals or conservatives?
I know you, my (mostly) liberal audience, you are itching to expose all those silly anti-scientific beliefs among conservatives, so let's start there:
Evolution. Do conservatives deny evolution? According to Gallup (Newport, 2012) 58% of Republicans think God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years, whereas the figure is "only" 41% among Democrats. That sure looks a lot to me like A LOT of people denying evolution, regardless of party. You liberal Democrats really do not have much cause for pride with respect to the scientific savvy of many of your political comrades. But still, Republicans are a bit more in denial.
Global Warming. Do conservatives deny global warming? Here the evidence is stronger. The Pew Research Center (2012) found that 51% of conservative Republicans and only 7% of liberal Democrats claimed there was no evidence of global warming. Furthermore, only 16% of conservative Republicans said global warming occurred because of human activity, whereas 77% of liberal Democrats believed human activity causes global warming. There is no serious debate in the scientific community about these issues: global warming is occurring and human activity has exacerbated it, conclusions now accepted even by scientists who were once skeptical (Muller, 2012). Ok, conservatives are pretty anti-science here.
However, on a slew of other issues, including fracking, the safety of nuclear power, and the alleged advantages of organic foods Republicans' views align more closely with those of the scientific community than do Democrats' views (e.g., Opposing Views, 2013).
Recent research has begun to hone in on how politics leads people astray from science. The short version is this: Ideology is steeped in morality AND morality/ideology leads to distorted perceptions of scientific facts.
A new series of studies by Liu & Ditto (in press) showed that political ideology and moral beliefs influence people's judgments of facts.... Liu & Ditto also found three other interesting patterns. There were modest tendencies for distortions to be strongest among people who: 1. held strong moral convictions; 2. considered themselves most informed; and 3. were conservatives. This last finding was quite modest, so that even if conservatives' views of science are a bit more distorted than liberals, there was ample distortion among liberals.
The entire article is worth a read and can be found here.
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