Conservatives Lose Trust in Science

A study has found plunging trust in science since the 1970s by conservatives.

Just 35 percent of conservatives say they have a “great deal of trust in science” in 2010, a 28 percent decline since 1974, when 48 percent of conservatives — about the same percentage as liberals — trusted science.

Liberal and moderate support for science has remained essentially flat since 1974, according to Gordon Gauchat, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He published his findings [PDF] in the journal American Sociological Review.

“It kind of began with the loss of Barry Goldwater and the construction of Fox News and all these [conservative] think tanks. The perception among conservatives is that they’re at a disadvantage, a minority,” he told US News.

“It’s not surprising that the conservative subculture would challenge what’s viewed as the dominant knowledge production groups in society—science and the media.”

Gauchat said that whereas in the 50s and 60s, science built ‘stuff’ for Department of Defense and NASA, things that “easily built a consensus,” now it drives policy in areas such as environmental protection.

“Science is charged with what religion used to be charged with—answering questions about who we are and what we came from, what the world is about. We’re using it in American society to weigh in on political debates, and people are coming down on a specific side,” he said.

Jeremy Mayer, a professor at George Mason University’s School of Public Policy, told US News that he disagreed that this is a new phenomenon, pointing to the use of science to justify racism in the 19th century. He said that the “anti-intellectual” populist vote, which used to belong to southern Democrats, is now a Republican theme.

“Ever since the [George] Wallace types joined the Republicans, they have gradually moved against science in increasingly open ways,” Mayer said.

Last week, a group arguing for evolution amongst evangelical Christians held a conference. Notably, the meeting offered the attendees the opportunity to not have their names recorded in order to “encourage open conversation on sensitive topics.”

Findings described as “sobering” were presented on what American Protestant pastors believe about creation. More than half profess a 6-day, 24-hour creation of life. Fewer than one in five, on the other hand, affirm an evolutionary process as God’s method of creation.

Creationism bills are being pushed by Republicans in Tennessee and Indiana. In Louisiana, lawmakers are trying to get creationism out of the classroom.

Last year, a study found that a majority of high school biology teachers don’t take an active stance on evolution, and 13 percent of teachers actually advocate for creationism in the classroom.

Related stories:

13 Percent of Biology Teachers Teach Creationism

Indiana Republicans Push Creationism In Public Schools

Louisiana Lawmaker Wants Evolution Taught In Science Classes

Photo credit: Wikipedia

122 comments

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Yvonne wrote: "Caring what ignorant people believe is a total waste of time... unless you are studying The Dark Ages."
Or unless you are a Republican or Blue Dog office seeker.
And, of course, unless they try to force us to teach it to our children.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Yvonne wrote: "Caring what ignorant people believe is a total waste of time... unless you are studying The Dark Ages."
Or unless you are a Republican or Blue Dog office seeker.
And, of course, unless they try to force us to teach it to our children.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Yvonne wrote: "Caring what ignorant people believe is a total waste of time... unless you are studying The Dark Ages."

Or unless you are a Republican or Blue Dog office seeker.

And, of course, unless they try to force us to teach it to our children.

Yvonne B.
Yvonne B.4 years ago

Facts don't need faithful followers; they just are. Educated people don't traffic in myth superstition, fantasy, bigotry and prejudices. Caring what ignorant people believe is a total waste of time... unless you are studying The Dark Ages.

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle4 years ago

Sad. And they hold us all back, by their obstructionist ways.

Lionel Burman
Lionel Burman4 years ago

In future decades the US will suffer economically for its backwardness in the present.

Michele J.
Michele Jones4 years ago

The reason science doesn't work is because it's based on studies that can look valid, but are skewed to produce a certain outcome for whatever organization funded the study. Eggs were bad for me; now they're nature's purest protein. Science is whatever the money-funders want it to be.

Arild Warud
Arild Warud4 years ago

Well, I've lost trust in conservatives.

Dan B.
Dan Brook4 years ago

The regressive Republican Party of No is obstructionist, mean-spirited, thuggish, religiously fanatical, scientifically ignorant, corrupt, hypocritical, xenophobic, racist, sexist, homophobic, evolution and global warming denying, oily, anti-environment, anti-health, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-birth control, anti-education, anti-99%, union busting, Medicare mashing and Social Security slashing, fiscally irresponsible, authoritarian, selfish, greedy, out-of-touch, dishonest, lacking compassion, warmongering, and otherwise dangerous.

NEVER vote for Republicans.

LD B.
LD B.4 years ago

Republicans DO like jobs; just so long as they're the employers, and the employees have no voice.