Study: Conservatives’ trust in science has fallen dramatically since mid-1970s


March 29, 2012
Health, Uncategorized

While trust in science remained stable among people who self-identified as moderates and liberals in the United States between 1974 and 2010, trust in science fell among self-identified conservatives by more than 25 percent during the same period, according to new research from Gordon Gauchat, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill’s Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

“You can see this distrust in science among conservatives reflected in the current Republican primary campaign,” said Gauchat, whose study appears in the April issue of the American Sociological Review. “When people want to define themselves as conservatives relative to moderates and liberals, you often hear them raising questions about the validity of global warming and evolution and talking about how ‘intellectual elites’ and scientists don’t necessarily have the whole truth.”

Relying on data from the 1974-2010 waves of the nationally representative General Social Survey, the study found that people who self-identified as conservatives began the period with the highest trust in science, relative to self-identified moderates and liberals, and ended the period with the lowest.

In addition to examining how the relationship between political ideology and trust in science changed over almost 40 years, Gauchat also explored how other social and demographic characteristics—including frequency of church attendance—related to trust in science over that same period. Gauchat found that, while trust in science declined between 1974 and 2010 among those who frequently attended church, there was no statistically significant group-specific change in trust in science over that period among any of the other social or demographic factors he examined, including gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.

“This study shows that the public trust in science has not declined since the mid-1970s except among self-identified conservatives and among those who frequently attend church,” Gauchat said. “It also provides evidence that, in the United States, there is a tension between religion and science in some contexts. This tension is evident in public controversies such as that over the teaching of evolution.”

As for why self-identified conservatives were much less likely to trust science in 2010 than they were in the mid-1970s, Gauchat offered several possibilities. One is the conservative movement itself.

“Over the last several decades, there’s been an effort among those who define themselves as conservatives to clearly identify what it means to be a conservative,” Gauchat said. “For whatever reason, this appears to involve opposing science and universities and what is perceived as the ‘liberal culture.’ So, self-identified conservatives seem to lump these groups together and rally around the notion that what makes ‘us’ conservatives is that we don’t agree with ‘them.'”

Another possibility, according to Gauchat, is the changing role of science in the United States. “In the past, the scientific community was viewed as concerned primarily with macro structural matters such as winning the space race,” Gauchat said. “Today, conservatives perceive the scientific community as more focused on regulatory matters such as stopping industry from producing too much carbon dioxide. Conservatives often oppose government regulation, and they increasingly perceive science as on the side of regulation, especially as scientific evidence is used more frequently in the work of government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and in public debates over issues such as climate change.”

The study also found that the declining trust in science among conservatives was not attributable to changes among less educated conservatives, but rather to rising distrust among better educated conservatives. “It is a significant finding and the opposite of what many might expect,” Gauchat said.

As for the study’s implications, Gauchat said it raises important questions about the future role of science in public policy. “In a political climate in which all sides do not share a basic trust in science, scientific evidence no longer is viewed as a politically neutral factor in judging whether a public policy is good or bad,” said Gauchat, who is also concerned that the increasingly politicized view of science could turn people away from careers in the field. “I think this would be very detrimental to an advanced economy where you need people with science and engineering backgrounds.”



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41 Responses to Study: Conservatives’ trust in science has fallen dramatically since mid-1970s

  1. LB Hagen April 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

    Educated Conservatives’ Question Junk Science! So What’s Bad About That?
    http://roanokeslant.blogspot.com/2012/04/educated-conservatives-question-junk.html

  2. Roger April 5, 2012 at 9:32 am #

    Jens, your main criticism of science as a whole (not “climate” science and social science) is that some scientific findings are not compatible with faith, and your suggestion is to not investigate areas that may conflict with faith?
    If scientific findings contradict faith, the faith is misplaced.
    Not investigating things like evolution (which is connected to new and important areas such a genetics) because some people may be offended as it contradicts their beliefs is foolish.

    Nobody is asking people to accept hypotheses with no evidence, but when people reject strong, sound theories based on what they would like to be true, and further seek to change governmental policy based on their frankly irrelevant belief, then there is a rather serious problem.

    The existence of God or similar religious tenants are not being attacked. It is the assertions of the religious against scientific theories that has issue taken against it. If someone attacks scientific theories based on faith and dogma, then they can arguably be fairly construed as anti-science. Describing an argument as anti-science has negative connotations because it implies there the argument has little to no evidence. However, taking objection to this branding on hypotheses such as Young Earth Creationism is not really relevant, as such a hypothesis and those like it have little to no valid evidence in favour, and seek simply to undermine theories that contradict it, making it unscientific. Indeed, as they are opposed to established scientific theories and methods despite being unable to offer a valid alternative or even contradictory evidence means there are often anti-science.

    Not investigating important areas of science because of religious opinion is foolish. Should Galileo and other astronomers not have investigated the solar system and refuted geocentrism because it would and did offend and contradict religious beliefs and matters of faith? Galileo was forced to recant his theory by the inquisition and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. However, he was right, and today it seems laughable to think otherwise.
    If someone’s beliefs are refuted or contradicted by sound evidence, then perhaps it is time to let go of those beliefs.

    By the way, I have used evolution as an example as it it a widely accepted scientific theory (different to the colloquial meaning of theory), as well as an extensive and important field that is still debated based on on the grounds of speculation and faith, even if it is not as relevant to your post.

  3. Heber Rizzo April 3, 2012 at 7:20 am #

    No Chris, the politics of fraudulent anthropogenic global warming.

    And, by the way, no warming since 1998 and counting, even when GISS keeps cooling the past…

  4. Heber Rizzo April 3, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Neither is religion disguising as science.

  5. SanRemo April 3, 2012 at 6:52 am #

    But science is self-correcting. Belief/faith is not.

  6. SanRemo April 3, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Yes Jacob, science is sometimes falsifiable, but it’s ridiculous for you to state that science is “hinged on the falsifiability of data.” Science, unlike faith, is self correcting. It may require some amount of time for science to correct it’s errors but eventually new data and new technology will eventually show errant theories to be such and these theories will be discarded. Faith relies on holy books, the contents of which are not to be questioned and therefore can never be revised to fit new scientific data.

  7. NorthwesternChemist April 2, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    This is what passes for science these days? I hold a degree in chemistry and I used to take sociology courses when I wanted an easy A. Sociology as a whole is a rotten discipline filled with charlatans and flaming liberals, and it’s not a real science.

  8. SanRemo April 2, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    Unfortunately, I am often forced to disprove the Christian faith because Christians are so in-your-face with their faith. If they kept their faith where it belongs; in their home and quietly in their heart; there would be no conflict between science and religion. My Christian friends and Christian co-workers are always itching for a fight on the matter of Genesis and biblical veracity. I am not one to prick the security bubble of someone who takes some measure of solace in placing so much trust in myths. I myself, have my own system of Gnostic myths that I chose to believe in. But when myth is presented as fact and public policy is proposed to be fashioned around these myths, the thinking person can not sit idly by.

    I congratulate you on an honest try at presenting a science tolerant Christian view. But, alas, Christians and especially Christian scholars/apologists are completely hostile to the scientific method. Their push for “creation science” to be accepted as real science is ample evidence of this hostility. It is a plain fact that most Christians and conservatives feel intimidated and therefore hostile toward science and toward people who understand science and the scientific method. The hostility is due to their unfounded promotion of their myths up to the level of scientific fact and the inevitable and often laughable contradictions that ensue.

    Good day.

  9. TDoss March 31, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    Many other nations of the world will leave the US behind while it argues these things, or perhaps the US will assure the death of us all by refusing to acknowledge things like 1) Pollution is bad for life and 2) Infinite resources do not exist.

    That’s why it matters.

  10. Tom Hunter March 30, 2012 at 5:24 pm #

    Kevin,
    Well then, why do they claim that things like Evolution are false? If they are so inept that they cannot separate the man from the idea, then I have no sympathy for them. They also act as if government by definition was a corrupting influence. I dispute that. I think in large measure the success of our country can be directly attributed to the positive influence of our government. I believe that NASA, the CDC, the NIH and a host of other government agencies are the envy of the world. The FDA, for example, has kept us safe. Time and time again we have had business with vested interests deny that they are harming their consumers. They decry regulation and say that government organizations such as the EPA are harming us. You forget, though, that it was the EPA that force gasoline to be formulated without including lead. Recall, at the time, industry wailed and moaned that these regulations would kill their business, that it was the end of the world. Companies bemoaned clean water regulations, saying they were job killing and counter productive. Yet, we now accept that clean water is something we need and are willing to pay for. Of course, every company that loses a dime in profit will complain about those clean water regulations. But the long-term view tells us that we should stop the pollution from going into the creek behind the factory unless we want to pay for it by treating our children for the disease such pollution would cause.

    Here is the fundamental problem: regulations don’t come out of thin air–they come in response to abuses.

    If the Christians were content to live in their fantasy world where they’re all going to be raptured into heaven one day, no one would care. But when they seek to use their majority to force the rest of us to live by their fantasy rules, that’s when we fight back.

    Finally, the religious right is now a subsidiary of the Republican party which seeks to eliminate any regulation that governs how businesses operate. It is this sort of behavior the rest of us can no longer ignore.

  11. Tom Hunter March 30, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

    You miss the point. If you practice your religion without affecting the lives of other people, no one would care. The problem is that Christians in the United States, for example, expect to influence and govern this shared country according to their principles and beliefs. Christians believe that their belief is based on facts and they expect the rest of us–whether or not we are christians–to kowtow to the dictates of their beliefs.
    When American scientists attempt to cure the diseases of the living by using approaches such as stem-cell therapy, Christians step forward and stop this approach because they say their religion is against it. They say a stem cell is life rather than just a cell.
    When centuries of scientific research tell us that Evolution by Natural Selection is the best scientific explanation for life on this planet, Christians say that is impossible because their Bible states the earth is less than 10,000 years old. Christians seek to have their beliefs taught in the public schools. Christians are the dominant religion in the United States. So, they use their majority to inflict tyranny on all other minorities. They can force their Creationism to be taught in schools–because they are the majority. There is no science to back up the “science of Creationism” they believe in. Yet, because Christians are the majority they can force their views to be taught–when no one is really fooled into believing that their “Creationism Science”[sic] is science in fact.
    Science earns the name “science” because it was earned. Whenever an idea comes forward, it must survive all challengers. If it does not, the idea such as the Ether is shot down and a new idea comes up. The only thing that earns the moniker “science” is an idea that has survived this onslaught. No religion could survive the proofs required to be called science. Yet, because Christians are the majority, they can force their undefended beliefs to be taught as if they were science, which is a travesty. Whole generations have grown–especially in the deep South–believing in fiction.
    That, Jens Patterson, is why Christianity and other religions are so disliked. If you can’t understand that, then I would classify you as another member of the majority who does not have to bother with defending their position. They can’t and so they don’t bother. They just force us to accept their nonsense.

  12. Jens Pettersen March 30, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    Why do you need to tell this to Christians and have them accept it though?

    It is for example obviously a fact that the prophet of One-major-world-religion would have been considered a paedophile, mass murderer and statutory rapist according to today’s standards.

    Is it a necessary thing to do for the good of the world to either a) force people of this faith to accept this statement without complaints, or b) to label them as “anti-knowledge”, threats to world integrity, damaging to all progress, hypocritical and dishonest? I fail to see how doing so is a more sensible activity than most other activities you can put your time to.

  13. Jens Pettersen March 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Thank you for directly illustrating my point.

    To you, there are elements of Christian belief in the US that are directly at odds with science. Because the Christians who have them refuse to drop them even when you “confront them with science”, you consider them anti-science.

    You might as well take an approach to Hindu faith that says cows are holy, by subjecting cows to an enormous array of tests that show cows have no unusual distinguishing characteristics from any other animal. Then you can go around in India telling them how they are unscientific for continuing to insist upon something that is plainly false.

    My point is that there is no need to do this. It is simply not a necessary thing to do. Eating, breathing and sleeping are necessary things to do. Trying to actively use science as a spear against religious people to have them drop their religious belief is not necessary.

  14. Anathema March 30, 2012 at 11:40 am #

    When you say prove it, are you asking for people to prove that 40% of Americans are young earth creationists or are you asking us to prove that young earth creationism is wrong?

    If you’re asking for evidence that 40% of Americans are YECs, that number comes from a 2010 Gallup poll.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/145286/four-americans-believe-strict-creationism.aspx

    If you are asking us to prove that young earth creationism is incorrect . . . I don’t even know where to begin. It’s as if you were to ask me to prove that the germ theory of disease is more valid than the idea that diseases are caused by demonic possession. I’m not sure what sort of ignorance of current science and outright confusion of ideas could even lead you to ask such a question in the first place.

    I suppose I could direct you to the Talk Origins Website as a starting point for explaining why creationism (and young earth creationism in particular) really doesn’t hold up at all under any sort of scientific scrutiny.

  15. John D March 30, 2012 at 10:17 am #

    As a Conservative Christian and scientist, I couldn’t agree more with you, Jacob S. Thank you for pointing out what egregious harm is so often done to real science.

  16. John D March 30, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    Eric R: “Fully 40% of the U.S. population (and probably the majority of Christians) believe than God created human beings as they are, some time within the last 10,000 years. This is as unscientific a belief as you could come up with, since it’s contradicted by evidence from almost every field of science imaginable.”

    Prove it.
    The single biggest factor which causes my own distrust of scientists and mostly the people haphazardly wielding their findings is the *lack* of science, and the lack of understanding and evaluation of faith in any source of information. I have no problem with science, although I believe in Creation and in Jesus Christ. Science has not failed me. The problem as I see it has come from people with agendas wielding half-proven theories as fact and building further flawed logic on top of them as if they were fact.
    If science can stick to the now, provable science, I would not have lost so much faith in the scientific community. I might even have as much faith in scientific community as you do.

  17. centre21 March 30, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    1. Homosexuality was declassified as a disorder because, upon actual study, it did not fit the definition of a disorder. It had no cause, it produced no long-term issues and it inflicted no harm on the person or those around them. There were no hallucinations, delusions, destructive behavior or dissociative functions on the part of the Homosexual person. Upon further study, it was found that the only harm inflicted as a result of someone being a Homosexual was as a result of the outside community not accepting the person as a Homosexual and subjecting them to ridicule, shame and physical harm.
    2. There is no such thing as a “liberal” or “conservative” scientist. Scientists, for the most part, are highly intelligent, focused individuals who are concerned with their work, not with how it reads to any particular political viewpoint. It is the Media who uses scientific research and discovery to create polarizing “news” stories to sell space to advertisers.

    Your post is a perfect example of the subject of the article.

  18. Chalkie March 30, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    By your own response, you’ve defined yourself into an unusual definition of the “1%”. Enjoy your time there.

  19. Eric R March 30, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    The divide between religion and science is not because of the “liberals,” it’s because of religious fundamentalists who reject sound science because it conflicts with their dogma. Check the Gallup poll on “Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design” and it will show you just how compatible religion is with science in this country.

    Fully 40% of the U.S. population (and probably the majority of Christians) believe than God created human beings as they are, some time within the last 10,000 years. This is as unscientific a belief as you could come up with, since it’s contradicted by evidence from almost every field of science imaginable.

  20. Alan March 30, 2012 at 1:16 am #

    Yes – and the distrust is not of science, but of “scientists” who are not worthy of the name. It’s not confined to conservatives, either. Scientific consensus is that Genetically Modified foods are as safe to eat as unmodified foods, but there are an awful lot of liberals who disagree.

    This is just name-calling.

  21. Jens Pettersen March 29, 2012 at 3:32 pm #

    I find the construction of the term “anti-science” to be pretty disingenuous.

    There are two main underlying areas that consistently go into the construct of republicans as ‘anti-science’. One of them is that interaction between science and religion, and the other one is climate research. Everything pretty much boils down to these two.

    Left-wingers today use some imagined construct of ‘science’ to directly and forcefully attack religion, setting up ‘science’ as a direct and extreme antithesis to religion. I see this continuously on a daily basis. They say that core elements of religion is directly incompatible with and invalidated by science. By doing so it is inevitable that religious people, often conservatives, as a result of defending their faith by necessity have to say things that can be construed as “anti-science”. And probably even become increasingly sceptical of scientists who they start to associate with this usage.

    Except that the left-wingers here are wrong. Science and religion can coexist peacefully with minor adjustments to each, as many famous scientists through history have managed to. Science does not have a desperate “need” to “disprove” belief that Jesus did miracles and publish this everywhere, just like there is no overwhelming requirement for the good of humanity to “disprove” that “all people are created equal” or “disprove”/declare as “anti-scientific” the subjective feeling of pregnant mothers that their 1-month-old cell clumps have moral value. Again, the problem with this is that it is _not necessary to do so_.

    And the other areas is ‘climate science.’ Since the ‘religion vs science’ is pretty much a herring as to whether someone really is “anti-science” or just making statements consistent with defending their faith, this is really the only real deal. I’d say you would really, really struggle to find a broad discourse on the “anti-science” of republicans without “anti-climate-science” actually being a huge component of it.

    To be as brief as possible: I believe ‘climate science’ is a highly complex field with huge room for subjectivity. There is subjectivity in which statistical models to use and which adjustments to make for those models. There is subjectivity in which data to accept and which to throw out (cue “thermal heat island effect” and extremely outlying Siberian tree cores). And in my eyes, mainstream “climate scientists” have pretty much recused themselves. Their entire field was according to the “Climategate” emails highly politicised – and nobody raised an alarm. Nobody said anything. The politicians took over. That again throws _their capacity to make subjective judgements_ into doubt. Again, I would find it hard to trust a “climate scientist” even on a personal level, because that person _should have become aware that his or her field was filled with an intense and poisonous hatred towards ‘sceptics’ but did not raise any alarm bells_.

    And there’s an additional subcomponent here that specifically deals with “social science”. I’d probably agree that conservatives are much more anti-social-science than they are anti-metallurgical-science, anti-robotics or anti-jet-plane-research.

    Here there’s two problems. One is a perception that social scientists are becoming increasingly liberal. If you have statistics to the contrary with a base year that differs from the 60s to 80s, then go and post it to fight “anti-science” and increase trust. The other is that social science as a field makes inseparable value judgements / highly laden terms and “the scientific method”. When the end product of a “social science” process conflates statistical data with highly laden terms that only make sense if you share the world view of the researcher, it’s no wonder that social science in general is opposed as a chimaeric threat.

    So why construe it as “anti-science” when what’s actually meant is “anti-climate-and-social-science-and-refusing-to-drop-religious-faith”? Because ‘science’ still has positive and broad connotations that resonate with the populace. You are construing someone as an enemy of far more than they should be construed as an enemy of. That is naturally for a political end, but it’s a pretty f’ing evil and twisted thing to do at that.

    Do you want to be a scientist today and not be subject to angry glares and puffed-up disapproval from republican “anti-scientists”? I’ll give you a few tips: 1) try to avoid the unnecessary urge to ‘disprove’ their faith with science; there is a lot of other science out there that needs to be done, 2) don’t be a social scientist, and if you are make noises to the extent that you feel value judgements have no place in science, 3), if you’re a climate researcher I sadly have little advice.

  22. Kevin March 29, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    From what I can tell by speaking with my conservative friends and family members, the problem isn’t with science, but rather things like government funded scientific studies, etc.

  23. Tom Hunter March 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm #

    When they get sick, do Conservatives go to Witch Doctors?
    No? So why do they trust the medical profession? Don’t they know that every gain and insight that has ever been done in the medical world comes from application of the scientific method?

    If they suddenly accept science when they are sick, Conservatives are hypocrites. Science marches forward, testing hypotheses and discarding any that does not explain the experimental evidence. We have marched forward because we keep only the ideas that survive and can be repeated by other scientists.

  24. Brian March 29, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    When educated people “believe” in science, it is a colloquial expression recognizing that the scientific method, while not perfect and not capable of finding out everything, is the only known, reliable way of finding out anything. Gödel proved some limits on the completeness of mathematical systems, and he has essentially nothing to do with this. If anything, he implied that you should stick with an empirically based scientific method because you’re never going to find everything by theoretical and mathematical constructs.

  25. Jacob S. March 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm #

    I’m ultra-radical-liberal but this article, is demonstrative of the common error so many people make. The methodology of science is hinged on the falsifiability of the claims which are made; Karl Popper demonstrated that this feature of falsifiability, is due to the inductive reasoning process which is the premise of scientific reasoning. As such, scientific hypothesis can be falsified but they can never be confirmed. This article makes the common fallacy, of equating an interpretation of data, with the data itself. What’s worse, the article does not even describe how the data is collected, the controls… nada. I’m guessing, that some survey was given, that was written by some social-“scientist”, the participants answered the survey themselves, and the data was complied. To say that, “conservatives trust in science as decreased over time”, is an interpretive leap, from data, to a conclusion, which empiricism could never warrant. The BEST that a scientist qua scientist could say is, “We have observed a change over time, between the correlation of the self-identification of political orientation, with the answers to these specified questions.”

    The problem with interpretations of the evidence, is that there are always alternate interpretations, and scientists are no more qualified to interpret data, than any other person. Scientists qua scientists collect data, they formulate questions (hypothesis) which will lead to the most interesting/useful data, but their interpretations are as interesting to a philosopher of science, as an actresses’ opinion on politics; its just not relevant, or rather, it is as relevant as any other person’s interpretation, of the same data.

    For example, an alternate interpretation of this study could conclude, “Over X amount of time, Y-kind of political advocates have controlled the government spending on scientific research, this political-orientation/influence on where scientific spending is given, has increased/promoted research in areas where Y-kind of political advocates are interested, this affect in spending on scientific research has increased the amount of reporting on scientific research that Y-kind of political advocates are interested, and those that identify with the political orientation of “conservative” are W times less likely to self-report that they ‘trust’ the reported scientific research over X amount of time.” Alternatively, “Over X amount of time, those that self-identify as “conservatives” have become progressively stupider.”

    It is fine if a scientist wants to speculate on possible interpretations of the data; personally, I would be curious as to the thoughts of the expert who collected the data, on what she/he thinks her data means BUT I think the problem is, when ANY scientist uses the fallacious appeal to authority, an claim that they are the SOLE official interpreters of data, because they collected it… that’s not science, that’s being a jerk.

  26. yianniy March 29, 2012 at 11:09 am #

    Most conservatives are not actually conservative. A true conservative resists change trusting tried and true methods that are working just fine. (This is about maintaining the present.)

    Those who call themselves conservatives are right wing activists who want to enact radical changes based on false notions that things were better in the past. (This is about being nostalgic for things that did not actually exist in order to impose your world view.)

    So these false conservatives can easily ignore science, because it does not line up with the changes they are interested in.

    (BTW, Jesus Christ was anything but conservative under either definition.)

  27. Easy March 29, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Riiiiight and the intelligent conversation that you bring to the issue showcase what an incredible dolt you really are sir. I guess I could just chalk it up trollish and juvenile behavior but I’d wager it’s just your lack of ability.

  28. Easy March 29, 2012 at 10:18 am #

    Really a poorly worded article. While I’d consider myself more of a fiscal conservative than a social conservative, I believe the point is really that conservatives haven’t lost trust in science but instead they’ve lost trust in the SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY as a whole. Someone above introduced the point about homosexuality. Regardless of your personal beliefs, the actual story is interesting how the definition of homosexuality was changed in the psychology world from a ‘disease’ to a normal variation…namely, it was through a systematic effort led by a number of psychologists in leadership positions who were homosexual (with tremendous societal and legal ramifications). It doesn’t take a conspiratorial mind to realize the conflict of interest here. While of course, scientific data should be scrutinized for validity the bigger issue is the motivations and subsequent theories and summaries that are extrapolated from any scientific study or more when scientific bodies as in the case above change the way we address certain situations without using scientific study but instead base a judgement on their specific belief or agenda.

    (ref: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/204/81-words )

    Any scientist worth their salt would agree that studies should be free from bias yet when you have generally liberal audience watching liberal scientists, determining bias is a much more challenging effort than many will want to recognize. If you truly believe in the scientific process (science) then you should question the rationales here and give some serious thought as to COULD some of these studies have any logical flaws. Hopefully this thought helps.

  29. Mike March 29, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Science is a belief. If you don’t think so – go read Gödel. It is just a more powerful belief.

  30. Hank March 29, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Because they vote, and they elect people to school boards, mayors, governors, state legislators, congress, and the white house.

    Mock them at your own risk.

  31. Mitch March 29, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Heber –

    You say that you “don’t believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming”, even though the physics is quite simple and clear (take a look at this video for example, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf9aw5nlMGg ) and has been endorsed by every major scientific body (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change )

    On what basis do you form that opinion? And how is it a scientific opinion?

  32. dave™© March 29, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Riiiiiiight… the politics of E=MC2. Whatever you say, moron.

  33. dave™© March 29, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Is there any reason why anyone with a brain in their head should give a flying fig what these braindead neanderthal morons “think”? I got a kick out of the assertion that this rise in distrust was attributable to the “better educated conservatives”. Are these the ones that have figured out how to use their opposable thumb? Doing anything but laughing long, loud and publicly in these idiots faces is a disservice to the 99% of humans that use their brain.

  34. Comet March 29, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    Science is not a belief. It is just the field that focus on finding evidence that describes how stuff works. The scientific method.
    The more evidence we find the better we understand how it works.
    People who oppose the science field should probably think twice about what they oppose while their watching TV, using their computer, smartphone, calculator, car, dish watcher, fridge and so on an on.
    If it wasn’t for scientists who found out the basic principles of electricity, how atoms work, and so on we wouldn’t have any of this things.
    So people who actually pass most of their days finding evidence probably know a bit more about climate change and evolution than those who prefer to focus their efforts on dismissing the evidence because it goes against their “conservative mentality”.
    What surprises me in this day and age is how the so called conservatives admit that Gallileo was right and think most of our scientists today are wrong when it comes to evolution and climate change even though our scientists today have way more confidence on the data they have
    then Gallileo did back in the 15th century when he was trying to convince that the Earth was not the center of the universe.

  35. Mark March 29, 2012 at 8:05 am #

    I believe that the downturn in science adoption has more to do with how removed scientific discoveries are from the practical application of that discovery. The low-hanging fruit of the science world have already been picked. The people on the right, which are made up for a growing group of non-university educated folk, have a hard time seeing the application of the discovery in their life. People that have a university education tend to be open to scientific discoveries as a stepping stone to something great. Futurists tend to be on the left.

    We live in a time where instant gratification is paramount. When a scientific discovery hits the news, people will see it in two different perspectives. One group of people will be disappointed in the discovery (because it has no practical application as far as they’re concerned), while other will think of the possibilities that said discovery opens up. This is my personal observation, however.

    There is also the Religion versus Evolution debate which tends to transcend the boundaries of that discussion and floods into other areas where science is key. This is a whole discussion in itself and probably fuels this debate.

  36. Fiks March 29, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Im sorry, this was supposed to be in response to Heber. My mistake.

  37. Fiks March 29, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    No, it is certainly about science. Most republicans use science as a political punching bag for things like accusing people of “Elitism,” If you pay attention to what they say about science in the news, you can see that they have an obvious disdain for science. Observe most of their attitudes towards evolution.

    Also, while being a center-right atheist is sensical, getting offended when someone calls out most of the republican party is not. If you identify with the republican party, you must not be aware how much most of them want to enforce Christianity in aspects of the law. Plus, most of them simply have a terrible opinion of non-Protestants, let alone atheists. IIRC(sorry if this is off some), about a 1/3rd of republicans are really radical in that they believe that Obama is the anti-christ.

    “I do believe in scientists when they do science, but not when they do political or ideological advocacy.”
    Most climatologists are just doing ideological advocacy since most believe in man-made global warming, huh?
    It is really not hard to see why global warming happens. It is a natural result of how compounds like CO2 work. Denying it would require you to deny basic aspects of science, like how denying evolution would require you to deny genetics.

  38. Fritz March 29, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    If you “believe” in science, you’re doing it wrong.

  39. Chris March 29, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Yeah Heber. Don’t tell your conservative buddies half of that stuff. It sounds too sciencey. Oh, and they also don’t like atheists. Good luck.

  40. Heber Rizzo March 29, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    I am a center-right atheist, well educated, and I believe in science.

    I believe in evolution (god is not a required hypothesis)

    I believe in climate change (it has been always changing, through millenia)

    I believe in global warming (when climate change, sometimes we have warming, and sometimes we have cooling)

    I don´t believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming as stated in CO2 greenhouse hypothesis, although we probably have some local and/or regional influence).

    I do believe in scientists when they do science, but not when they do political or ideological advocacy.

    And this article is not about science, it is about politics.

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