Republicans hate science

According to a not-especially-surprising study, trust among conservatives in the validity of science is at an all-time low. The data, collected by researchers at UNC Chapel Hill, indicates just 35% of conservatives classify themselves as having "a great deal of trust in science," a steep drop from a reported 48% in a 1974 poll.

According to researcher Gordon Gauchat, the conservative disdain for science is focused (predictably) on two issues: climate change and evolution. Less predictably, these sentiments aren't just limited to the likes of Rick Santorum — who has labeled those two issues as a "hoax" and a "[promotion] of atheism," respectively — but have increased notably among more educated, "elite" Republicans.

"These results are quite profound because they imply that conservative discontent with science was not attributable to the uneducated but to rising distrust among educated conservatives," said Gauchat. "I think this is the new reality. I think that there's a cultural clash that's occurring now, and I think there's a fundamental issue. Science has been dependent on the government for funding since World War II. Does that arrangement change if we're electing more conservative politicians?"

An official from Republicans for Environmental Protection explained that much of the problem stems from the assumption that the scientific community is "serving the agenda of the regulatory state," adding that "there is concern about what those [scientific] conclusions could lead to in terms of bigger government and more onerous regulation."

This explanation makes sense, but then again, did anyone really expect a whole lot of scientific rationality from a party that's apparently convinced of the complex thoughts, emotions, and political agency of an unborn fetus? 

Image by Dave Herr.

Commentarium (33 Comments)

Mar 29 12 - 3:42pm
nslycles 648

Hmmm, anti conservative results from a study conducted by an overwhelmingly liberal university. Hmmmm...

I know a lot of conservatives, and none of them have a hard-core disbelief in science. The talking heads of the GOP certainly do, but they (just like the Democrats) play to the extremes of their base. Most people fall much closer to the middle than what is portrayed in these types of studies.

Mar 29 12 - 3:51pm

I think you just betrayed your own mistrust in science, favoring your own (limited) observation instead...

Mar 30 12 - 12:31am

I know 'what' already kind of dismantled you, but "I believe in science, watch as I disprove this study with anecdotes" is a masterpiece in irony.

Mar 30 12 - 7:10am
I know a

lot of conservatives, and most of them have disbelief in science, even as they use the results of science every day. Their religious beliefs are often contradicted, rationally, by science, thus the opposition. Science surrounds them, everywhere, all the time, and they are atheists, not wanting to believe. Lights, airplanes, the internet, indoor plumbing, computers, engines, radio, food, etc. ... all possible due to the god of science. The 'true believers' are unbelievers in the obvious and knowable. God must have a sense of irony. Of course, they might have a point in that acceptance of scientific 'truth', without being a scientist oneself, is akin to accepting what a priest says is truth. Without self verification, a belief in science is just another belief.

Aug 28 12 - 10:34pm

This post... it really made me laugh out loud. "Here, let me demonstrate the content of the article for you..."

Mar 29 12 - 3:50pm

So apparently truth really is inconvenient - and expensive. Sort of like if the doctor says you have a tumor, you'll have to get it removed or killed; very expensive. MUCH more sensible to save the money and tell everyone that the doctors are in a conspiracy and are greedy liars. And die horribly from (incurable) cancer later.
I can understand anybody doubting science, it's the ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY that its all a hoax that I just can't get past.

Aug 28 12 - 7:00pm

i can understand people doubting the results of a particular study or the intentions and motivations of those conducting it, but to doubt SCIENCE is absurd.

Mar 29 12 - 4:39pm

Ok libs ... here's are some emails from some scientists:

2008, Phil Jones, director of East Anglia's CRU, wrote to Mr. Mann,
under the subject line "IPCC & FOI," "Can you delete any emails you
may have had with Keith [Briffa] re AR4 [the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) report]? Keith will do likewise . . . can you
also email Gene [Wahl, an employee of the U.S. Department of Commerce]
to do the same . . . We will be getting Caspar [Amman, of the U.S.
National Center for Atmospheric Research] to do likewise."

So tell me libs ... it doesn't shake your confidence in "science" that these scientists
are looking to DELETE emails concerning climate change? Why would they do that?
Is that the scientific method?

You are SO blind to your own prejudices its LAUGHABLE!

Mar 29 12 - 5:51pm

If you wanted to prove a point, it would have been more beneficial to a) provide more than one source, and b) not discuss such a politically surrounded topic such as climate change.

For those of you that study science, you know that the best method in forming an opinion is researching multiple articles from multiple sources and going from there.

Mar 29 12 - 7:54pm

How about the NY Times (which does its best to try to explain it away) ...

Listen, this HAPPENED. And mind you, its a complete fluke that these guys were SO SLOPPY that they sent emails like this and got caught. Can you imagine what they're doing in an envoriment that ASSUMES global warming?

Mar 29 12 - 10:32pm

so, your first post alleges a very specific email exchange, complete with attributed quotes. when challenged as to the validity of your claim, you provide citation to an NY Times article which contains neither the attributed quote nor mention of any of the parties invoked. Furthermore the article specifically mentions that the research at issue was the tracking of thermometer records (which records actual temperature) with tree-ring data (which has been used to infer historical temperatures). the two stopped tracking nicely in 1960. This calls into question the inferences about historical climate trends inferred from the tree rings, not whether or not we are *currently* in the middle of a warming trend. thermometer readings over the past century show that rather conclusively. So - you've made your point that you don't, or are not capable of, understanding science. Now please fuck off.

Mar 30 12 - 5:56am
Perhaps you could...

...explain the Midieval Warming Period?

Aug 29 12 - 6:06pm

Simple, understandable, the North Atlantic Oscillation. Also, dear sir, it is "Medieval". Perhaps you could start there and work your way up to the bigger ideas.

Mar 29 12 - 4:43pm

Oh, here's another gem coming from a "scientist" ...

Even if WMO [the World Meteorological Organisation] agrees, I will still not pass on the data.
We have 25 or so years invested in the work.
Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.

Yup ... that's the scientific method, hid your data!
Mind you, these are the emails that GOT CAUGHT.
Can you imagine that *hit that goes on if they feel comfortable enough to act this way?
Ok, libs, what's your response?

Mar 29 12 - 5:28pm

I'm sure that if I stole all your e-mails I could cherry-pick some things that would make you look bad.

Mar 29 12 - 5:39pm

Is it science or scientists that raises your ire? Maybe you would say that I can't trust anyone, and that's fine, as long as it applies to cashiers, doctors, clergymen, neighbors, politicians etc. The answer to 'interesting' results is more science, not less science.

Mar 29 12 - 7:57pm

Its not a question of making me look bad, its a question of credibility. Can you trust these researchers given that they appear to be deleting and hiding information? Why? If this is what passes as "The Scientific Method" then conservatives are more than justified in NOT trusting scientists.

Mar 29 12 - 8:06pm
True Patriot

Even Einstein made colossal mistakes during his career. And if one looks hard enough for scientists possessing liberal politics and sketchy ethics, they're certainly out there to be found. But the only acceptable substitute for inadequate science is superior science. For so many conservatives to be so willing to ditch science altogether simply shows that they prefer ignorance to intelligence. In other words, they're clearly in league with Satan.

Mar 29 12 - 10:42pm

"Its not a question of making me look bad, its a question of credibility." um, because that's a distinction... how? Fortunately we do not need to hack your email to question your credibility. all you've done thus far is drop non-cited quotes and a single cited article on the subject that doesn't support your position. And yet we're supposed to just roll with you on this? No. You are behaving like a crank, at best. you've offered quotations attributed to specific people. either back them up with citation that gives context showing that the quotes were not distorted for effect, or withdraw them and fuck off.

Mar 30 12 - 12:29am

You seem to not understand that the facts surrounding climate change, like those surrounding evolution, gravity, etc., are highly up for debate. No, science has not figured it all out, and anyone who would claim that they have is not a particularly scientifically-minded individual. But the overarching scope of these things -- the planet is warming at frightening speeds, humans evolved, we are held onto this earth -- are not up for debate. There is overwhelming empirical proof supporting them.

Mar 30 12 - 12:34am

Also, you seem fixated on scienTISTs and the scientific community, when that is not what the question asked about. It asked about science. The very idea of science, the idea that we should look to the data we can gather from the world around us in order to better inform ourselves about it. That is what people aren't trusting. And that is fucking frightening. People are distrusting the entire process of looking for objective truth in anything.

Mar 30 12 - 12:53am

For those of you who are interested in climate change:

Please don't tl;dr. It's worth the watch, whether you agree or disagree with Sager's suggestions.

Mar 30 12 - 12:54am

Stager*, my apologies.

Sep 11 12 - 3:43pm

Wow, Greg. Simpleton, much?

Mar 29 12 - 8:54pm


Mar 29 12 - 10:11pm

One doesn't "believe" in science. One "accepts" science.

Mar 30 12 - 12:39am

Yes, this is also true. One of the wonderful things about science is that it involves no faith whatsoever. If you do not believe a given scientist's conclusions you are welcome to replicate the experiment or analyze the data yourself.

Mar 30 12 - 7:11am

The underlying physical mechanisms can either be accepted or not; the choice is entirely irrelevant as the mechanism is unlikely to change in anything unless you're living in a Sartre novel.

Science, on the other hand, describes the human attempt to describe and sometimes understand the physical world. As a human creation, it is entirely appropriate to believe, disbelieve, accept or not accept the premises put forth.

Mar 30 12 - 5:11am

'than ever'?

Mar 30 12 - 7:06am

Wow, you guys are so smart. I particularly like how when you're faced with opposing evidence, you simply dismiss it and take the original thesis as a matter of - dare I say it? - faith.

Now explain the Medieval Warming Period, recently substantiated with oxygen isotope levels in Anarctic core ice. Use small words, please; I'm conservative.

Mar 30 12 - 9:22am

This thing we live on goes through times when it is hot and times when it is cold, but it is approaching a time when it will get way way hotter because we done fucked up. Also, you have shown no evidence nor even made an argument, or maybe you have and it's hard to tell because you keep changing your name. If you truly do not believe that there is any man-made global warming occurring today, the one who is using faith to override an overwhelming body of evidence is you.

Mar 31 12 - 12:24am
junction tivqui

The biggest failing on both sides of this issue is that both sides feel they are absolutely right, without question. There is enough evidence on both sides of the argument to suggest that further research is required. Contrary to popular belief, and despite the rampant politicization of the issue, no absolute conclusion has been reached one way or the other.

Aug 30 12 - 5:28pm

"There is enough evidence on both sides of the argument to suggest that further research is required."
No there isn't.

"Contrary to popular belief, and despite the rampant politicization of the issue, no absolute conclusion has been reached one way or the other."
Yes it has.