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Study: Trust in science among educated conservatives plunges

Conservatives, particularly those with college educations, have become dramatically more skeptical of science over the past four decades, according to a study published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. Fewer than 35 percent of conservatives say they have a "great deal" of trust in the scientific community now, compared to nearly half in 1974.

"The scientific community ... has been concerned about this growing distrust in the public with science. And what I found in the study is basically that's really not the problem. The growing distrust of science is entirely focused in two groups—conservatives and people who frequently attend church," says the study's author, University of North Carolina postdoctoral fellow Gordon Gauchat.

In fact, in 1974, people who identified as conservatives were among the most confident in science as an institution, with liberals trailing slightly behind, and moderates bringing up the rear. Liberals have remained fairly steady in their opinion of the scientific community over the interim, while conservative trust in science has plummeted.

Interestingly, the most educated conservatives have led that charge. Conservatives with college degrees began distrusting science earlier and more forcefully than other conservatives, upending assumptions that less educated people on the whole are more distrustful of science.

Gauchat attributes the changes to two forces: Both science and conservatives have changed a lot in 40 years. In the post-WWII period, research was largely wedded to the Defense Department and NASA—think the space race and the development of the atomic bomb. Now the scientific institution "has come out from behind those institutions and been its own cultural force." That has meant it is increasingly viewed as a catalyst of government regulation, as in the failed Democratic proposal to institute cap-and-trade as a way to reduce carbon emissions and stave off climate change.

"People are now viewing science as part of government regulation," Gauchat says.

Previous studies have shown that climate change, the widely-accepted theory that man-made carbon emissions are causing the world to grow warmer, is very unpopular among conservatives, and especially white conservative males. In 2008, half of all conservatives believed in climate change. By 2010, only a third did, compared to more than 70 percent of liberals, according to a Gallup poll.

The issue has caused a bit of a hubbub in the Republican primary. Failed candidate Jon Huntsman wrote in August, "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," before later walking that back and saying there were still doubts. Newt Gingrich has been pounded repeatedly by rival Rick Santorum—who says global warming is a "hoax"—for appearing in an anti-climate change ad with Nancy Pelosi in 2006. (He's since said there is evidence "on both sides of the issue.") And Mitt Romney says he believes the Earth is getting warmer, but isn't sure how much humans are contributing to that.

The study was based on answers to the General Social Survey, which began asking people about their level of trust in various public institutions, including Congress and the Supreme Court, in the 1970s. The dip in trust toward the scientific community didn't correlate to a decrease in trust for all political institutions, since conservatives showed increased trust in political institutions during the Bush presidency, but still found science suspicious.

Gauchat says he's done other analyses that show in Europe, the trend is flipped on its head. Liberals show a greater distrust of the scientific community. "It's which debates are salient in the public. Maybe this is a trend that will reverse if genetically modified foods becomes a big deal in the U.S." he said.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/study-trust-science-among-educated-conservatives-plunges-133908205.html


Added: Mar-29-2012 
By: Tongueboy
In:
Other News, Politics, Science and Technology
Tags: conservatives, mistrust, science
Views: 1148 | Comments: 19 | Votes: 2 | Favorites: 1 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • Comment of user 'htos1' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • science is still science with the correct procedures, evidence, fact and proof

    however science is constantly changing, nothing is ever set in stone

    the biggest factor is that science has become HIGHLY politicized the last 20 years

    scientists can't go about their work without some douche bags slithering in with some political influence

    you can't get funding from the government without getting political

    almost nobody can view science objectively without bias....its a sad day

    and people wonde More..

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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    • @mylostsoul
      Good comment. Science ceases to be science the split second someone, anyone, has sway over the results because of politics, opinion or childhood disorders.

      By the way, regarding the "all fours" comment: I really think it was a big mistake the day our species came down out of the trees to start with. Just sayin'.

      Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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    • Comment of user 'htos1' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • Comment of user 'HYPERTECKER' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • Comment of user 'HYPERTECKER' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
    • @HYPERTECKER anyone MORONIC enough to bash on Stephen Hawking isn't worth my time.. or worthy to lick his fucking wheelchairs wheels!

      Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • I can explain it in two words."global warming". The "scientific community" LIED about the data. They had a political agenda and it was found out. They then LIED about LYING about the data.The big question is why the liberals are so anxious to belive and stand behind these obvious LIES and fabrication's! Thanks TB

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • Yawn another “study” any 1st year accounting student can tell you morons that statistics and data can be manipulated to say ANYTHING.

    Define conservative.....

    What I have noticed in my 21+ years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry is that the LOWER level just out of college employees at most firms are very Liberal progressive and secular, the more senior, experienced and educated the staff the more Libertarian and constitutional conservatives you get, many are very family focused an More..

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • Science is for losers...I always go by my gut!

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • 'study'

    LOL!

    more like typical left wing propaganda.

    I have a ton of left wing liberal professors in college that think the same way, and do 'study' with the similar, predictable results...they are intolerant and hateful...yet they worship Obama like a cult icon.

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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    • @VikingRapeSquad

      Ha! The only time you've spent on any college campus is when the pizza has to get there in 30 minutes or less.

      Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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    • @VikingRapeSquad You keep calling people hateful... but I always see you jerking off to videos of non-whites being injured/killed... hmm! Methinks the pot doth call the kettle black.

      Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • ha.......... I LOVE stories like this....
    Idiot christ-tards.. hey go protest gravity and AGING next, you fucking Luddites!

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • Further proof that all conservatives are idiots.

    http://chrisevans3d.com/files/iq.htm

    Blaahahahaha.

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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  • They still trust science. What they *don't* trust the fallacious, cultlike, politically-driven pseudoscience that would result in the destruction of most people's standard of living that libtards are perpetuating due to their ignorance and petulance and hatred of humanity.

    Posted Mar-29-2012 By 

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