Survey: Most conservatives place little trust in science
March 31st, 2012
11:15 AM ET

Survey: Most conservatives place little trust in science

Only a small minority of conservatives now say they place a “great deal” of trust in science, according to a survey published yesterday.

The new result represents a drop of almost 30 percent since the 1970s, according to the study published in the American Sociological Review.

The study says data indicate that the public’s trust in science is largely unchanged since 1974 except among people identifying themselves as conservatives.

Whereas in 1974, 48 percent of conservatives trusted science — about the same share as liberals — the number is now down to 35 percent, a decline of nearly a third in 38 years.

“Conservatives began the period with the highest trust in science, relative to liberals and moderates, and ended the period with the lowest,” Gordon Gauchat, the study’s author, wrote in an abstract. In discussing the survey’s results, he adds: “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.”

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In an interview with US News, Gauchat traced the decline to the 1964 presidential election.

"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," Gauchat was quoted as saying. "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."

In a poll released today, Gallup found that self-identified Republicans were the most likely to believe that news of global warming was “exaggerated.”

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Nearly 70 percent of Republicans held this view while only 20 percent of Democrats and 42 perecent of independents felt this way.

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Topics: Politics • Science

soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. jrh

    Science neither proves nor disproves the existence of a supreme being. Regardless of whether one does or does not believe, it is pointless and lame that people keep trying to argue one vs the other or even invoke one in the argument over the other. Science and religion do not affect the validity of each other, nor are they mutually exclusive.

    April 4, 2012 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • Penn & Teller

      **** "Science neither proves nor disproves the existence of a supreme being."

      That's because science can't disprove a negative. Science can't prove nor disprove the existence of the Easter Bunny, the Boogeyman, Santa Claus, etc. But hey, I guess it is OK for adults to walk around at work believing in those items as well since by your "logic," science can't disprove their existence.

      *** "Regardless of whether one does or does not believe, it is pointless and lame that people keep trying to argue one vs the other or even invoke one in the argument over the other."

      Cool, so by your "logic," it is pointless for sane, rational adults to try and convince insane, delusional adults that Yoda, Santa, the Tooth Fairy, etc are not real. We should all just let them live in a world of delusion because after all that is SO healthy for our species.

      *** "Science and religion do not affect the validity of each other, nor are they mutually exclusive."

      LOL... the Bible and many adherents claim God flooded the entire world. Yet science knows this isn't true. The Bible talks about the "pillars" of the Earth, yet science knows that is not true. The Bible says whatever you pray for it WILL be done, yet science knows that isn't true.

      Good luck with your world of delusion.

      April 4, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
      • Penn & Teller

        I left an additional comment on this topic above that went to the incorrect location regarding an example of Noah versus science.

        April 4, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Keshia

      Feynman和Schwinger都早慧但是Schwinger教早受教育,18岁就在Colunbia拿到学士学位,据说他博士论文的内容此时就已经完成了,只是到了21岁“才”拿到Ph.D,所以他早熟,使得他严谨的风格得到很大的强化,他年轻时的文章都很老成。Feynman一辈子都是顽童性格,18岁时上大学,蔑视权威,后来搞出Path Integral,搞出Feynman diagram ,正是从这个意义上,他风头压过了Schwinger,加上酷爱作秀(Gell man就对此很不满),名声自然远扬科学界外。在1980年美国Fermi实验室举行的关于粒子物理的会议上,Schwinger作了Renormalization and Quantum Electrodymonic的演讲,在这篇优美动人且充分展现Schwinger高超英语应用能力的文章中,他说了一句动人心弦的话:like the iioscln chip of more recent years, the Feynman diagram was bringing computation to the masses

      April 21, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  2. Tea

    Conservatives think this way because............
    They only have faith in stripping money out of the funding for science and research. They can care less about the results.
    THIS IS WHY CANCER AND AIDS and so on will never be cured.
    Just a thought

    April 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  3. Nick from Philly

    Conservatives put little trust in science?

    Does this mean that they also distrust Medical Science? Oh wait. To them, medicine is NOT science. Oh, my bad...

    April 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Reply
  4. Adam

    CNN should learn how to spell percent. Look in the last line, "perecent" DERP

    April 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
  5. Raammson

    Its ok Conservatives I don't think Science likes you that much either.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  6. Vance

    The Earth is a closed ecosystem of & Billion People. A race of beings whom have learned to utilize fossil fuels that the Earth had sequestered. We pump that stuff back into the atmosphere on a daily basis, faster than is can be absorbed. Do logical educated minds really believe we have no or little impact on the environment? Seriously?

    April 9, 2012 at 3:09 am | Reply
  7. .

    Conservatives place a great deal of trust in science, but we balance it with common sense.

    Liberalism? It's a mental disorder.

    And that's pure science.

    April 9, 2012 at 6:28 am | Reply
    • Sane

      By common sense you mean like a supernatural being came and created Earth in 6 days. Or that he/she/it impregnated a human to bear its child. Common sense? You gotta be kidding me.

      April 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
      • John Henson

        And, on the seventh day, God rested, saw the world He had created, and said, 'Oh Crap! What have I done?'

        April 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  8. John Henson

    The labels 'conservative,' 'moderate' (or 'middle-of-the-road' to some pollsters) and 'liberal' are self-descriptions, my initial response was to ask, are 'conservatives' the same cohort as in 1978? I doubt it. The country has moved very far to the right compared with 1978. What was 'moderate' then is left-wing now.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  9. Locker

    Conservatives who don't reject evolution, global warming, environmental studies, etc are in the minority. Publicly stating these opinions will quickly bring calls of RINO (Rupublican In Name Only) from your "own people". If you feel strongly then perhaps you should work to educate and bring logic and reason back to the majority of your party rather than blaming everything on the media and the great liberal conspiracy to make Republicans look exactly as they want to look.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
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