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Conservative Distrust For Science At All Time High, Says Study

EvolutionScienceWe all know that that right wing Americans regularly disregard science in favor of politics. Global warming and evolution simply can't exist, they say, because they're not simply the creations of eggheads in "liberal" academia, but they also go against the conservative bloc's religious beliefs. They've said for years that science is just hogwash, and now that distrust is at an all time high.

According to University of North Carolina sociology professor Gordon Gauchat, only 35% of self-identified conservatives say they have "a great deal of trust" in science. That's a 28% decline since the first survey in 1974.

Gauchat traces the evolution -- or devolution -- of conservatives' distrust for science back to Barry Goldwater, telling US News & World Report, "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."

"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."

He went on: "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." And one's right, and the other's wrong. Can you guess which is which?

Download and check out a graph of Gauchat's findings, AFTER THE JUMP...

Gauchat's article (PDF) via American Sociological Review.

ScienceGraph

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Comments

  1. The Marching Morons - science fiction becomes sad fact.

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 29, 2012 12:54:34 PM


  2. I don't know what offends me more, their abject stupidity or the fact they are so proud of it?

    Posted by: mytwocents | Mar 29, 2012 1:02:58 PM


  3. That has to be one of the most idiotic billboards I've ever seen. What are the people going to that church thinking? Oh yes, well put, I totally agree, what a smart place. Sth like that maybe. I know what I would be thinking.

    Posted by: Matt26 | Mar 29, 2012 1:05:09 PM


  4. IMO it's impossible to separate political and religious motivations for dismissal of science. Some dismissal of global warming is political/financial for instance, but some of it's motivated by belief in what "god" created and what, according to ancient religious texts, its purpose is.

    And much of that refusal is based in fear. IF you admit that, well OK, the Earth wasn't created in 7 days 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, Noah didn't get 2 of every species of animal on a boat he built himself, Jonah didn't live inside a whale, etc. then then it puts the whole thing in question. "OK, if you admit THIS part isn't true how can you say THAT part is the literal word of God?" So instead of living with doubt and having to think for themselves, even just admitting that much of it is myth or allegory, they cling tighter to Biblical literalism despite knowing on some level that it makes no logical sense.

    And the Biblical proscriptions against homosexuality are part of that. In order to cling to the very few mentions of homosexuality in the Bible, to hold onto that prejudice, they have to insist that the whole thing is beyond question.

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 29, 2012 1:06:11 PM


  5. the US has been turning into a place where people cannot distinguish the difference in value between a FACT and an OPINION.

    some "opinions" are just flat-out factually incorrect. wrong.

    we're seeing idiots insist on clinging to chosen beliefs that can only be maintained as long as they willfuly ignore, or disregard, proven empirical factual realities.

    when you have to ignore a truth to keep your "faith" alive you prove that your faith is bulls**t.

    and how come "this is a Christian nation!!" is never used to extend grace, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and generosity? it's a rallyying-cry to hate muslims and gays, not to promote universal healthcare, stronger gun control and a culture of more peace and compassion - things that Christ fella woulda supported, you know.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Mar 29, 2012 1:14:30 PM


  6. In order to have a good flock of sheeple you have to keep them ignorant. Republicans are no better than dictators in this regard.

    Posted by: qj201 | Mar 29, 2012 1:21:23 PM


  7. To anyone who doesn't trust science: put down your phones, throw out your computers, turn off your lights, never use your refrigerator, car, microwave, television, or radio again.

    Stop taking Advil or Tylenol. No more surgeries, whether it would save your life or not. No more antibiotics.

    The list goes on and on. Science isn't for cherry picking. It's not a Chinese menu. You don't get to use your scientifically produced tools of daily life AND continuously slam science.

    Posted by: Sean in Dallas | Mar 29, 2012 1:24:33 PM


  8. "How lucky for rulers that men do not think." - Adolph Hitler

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 29, 2012 1:32:23 PM


  9. Unless these churches are burning scientists and professors at the stake, I don't think that the mistrust of science among the religious is at an all-time high. Galileo, anyone? Theocrats don't trust science, as it sheds light on the idiocy of their literal interpretation of scripture. It has been ever thus.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Mar 29, 2012 1:37:01 PM


  10. Well, of course--anyone who reads this blog regularly should expect that. The more science postulates via brain shape/chemistry, hair curls, and other examples in nature (dolphins, monkeys, etc.) that homosexuality is innate and has a genetic component, the more conservatives stick their fingers in their ears and yell "La la la, I can't hear you."

    No, we're all obviously gay because we've been seduced by Satan/had poor relationships with our parents/were sexually abused/etc. It must be true, the Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation say so.

    Posted by: Dback | Mar 29, 2012 1:42:17 PM


  11. There was a time when the Islamic cultures were leaders in science and technology. One result of this was an ability to manufacture superior weapons as they had steelmaking skills. I'm told that they shortly thereafter turned their back on science to pursue a strict religion based path. We see the effects still today as their most advanced nations struggle with 1960s era atomic and missile technologies, trying to catch up. This despite their massive oil wealth. Will our own conservatives someday lead us down this path of diversion? Or, by learning from history, will we remain a culture that wants to KNOW?

    Posted by: ROBERT BAKER | Mar 29, 2012 1:42:33 PM


  12. SEan in Dallas, that's similar to an argument I've used many times in online discussions. "Isn't it rather silly to argue that scientists don't know what they're talking about when you're responding to an article on your COMPUTER, connected to millions of computers around the world simultaneously, yet still insisting that late Bronze age desert nomads who had an average life-span of about 40 years because they had no concept of hygiene, infection, or disease prevention had all the answers?"

    Posted by: Caliban | Mar 29, 2012 1:46:03 PM


  13. Yes, MILKMAN, it was ever thus. But that graph show that, at some point in history, people had more respect for science than they do today. I don't recall, growing up, any sort of movement among the religious to religiously and publicly claim that not only is evolution wrong, but the earth is only around 4000 years old. Those who did were treated skeptically. At least, the pendulum was swinging toward critical thought as valuable.

    Posted by: TJ | Mar 29, 2012 1:49:57 PM


  14. Such pathetic ignorance.

    Posted by: Peter | Mar 29, 2012 2:08:41 PM


  15. So that means that America is actually going backwards? right into Medieval, nice.

    Posted by: Felix | Mar 29, 2012 2:24:25 PM


  16. The article says, "The perception among conservatives is that they're at a disadvantage, a minority."

    Well anyone who insists that traditional fantasies are more valuable than well-established facts will, indeed, be at a disadvantage. Further, the more narrowly conservatives define their "pure values," the more of a minority they will become. Such is the dynamic of witch hunts: eventually the group of "pure" believers becomes so small that they cannot sustain the fiction that they speak as a majority or, even, for the truth. The trick for the rest of society is to prevent that "righteous" minority becoming a destructive pogrom.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Mar 29, 2012 2:27:56 PM


  17. What the hell is in the water down there?

    Posted by: Michael in Toronto | Mar 29, 2012 3:22:42 PM


  18. Religion can only work if the masses are kept ignorant

    Posted by: jaragon | Mar 29, 2012 5:46:29 PM


  19. When will religious conservatives deny the existence of gravity?

    Posted by: Carl | Mar 29, 2012 9:03:38 PM


  20. I think this study just serves as a reinforcement of what was already known to many.

    The sheep follows the shepherd, and unfortunately the conservative religious sheep blindly follow the hateful pastors/shepherds that spew bigotry, hatred, and homophobia from every orifice.

    The sheep follow along not having to think for themselves or initiate independent thought for themselves. Hence why you have sheep believing in creationism over evolution, and denying global warming despite the studies and scientific facts that prove otherwise.

    This whole denying science and evidence by conservative religious folks is not uncommon. The Church fought Galileo over the theory that the earth was round and revolved around the sun during the Inquisition / late Renaissance period. I'm dying to know when they will go back to re-defending their "flat earth" theory.

    The creationists live in a delusional, parallel universe where science and facts do not matter, and every mystery of life can be rationalized by some divine inspiration of God.

    How convenient.

    Posted by: Javier | Mar 30, 2012 1:03:05 AM


  21. It's no surprise to anyone paying attention that there has been a concerted drive to dum down the conservative cattle for easy management. Reagan started the movement with the elimination of public asses programming (tv and radio) in rural areas, something that's continuing to this day.

    Posted by: Tarc | Mar 30, 2012 3:19:41 AM


  22. Michael in Toronto-

    Down where? You act like you don't have Creationists in Canada. Google "big valley creation science museum" . It's in Bumfuck Alberta.

    Posted by: David Hearne | Mar 30, 2012 11:05:54 AM


  23. Fundamentalism of any kind is dangerous. Not all people of faith are anti science or anti history. I agree with littlekewi that the focus of conservatives is all wrong. If you believe that God is love, then you should use your energy loving, not waging a culture war. If something is true ,you do not have to deny science, history, and rational thought. To have real faith is a daily personal journey, not taking out your brain and handing it to your Pastor. Love some of the conversations that are happening over at the Christianleft.org.

    Posted by: Tom in long beach | Mar 30, 2012 12:03:15 PM


  24. Come on, that sign is funny. If Evolution were true there would also be no gay people. This is not a belief that hurts anyone. Evolution, on the other hand, quickly morphed into Eugenics and then into Hitler's twisted theories of racial improvement. Study Creationism before you condemn it. They say a lot of bugs and birds missed the Ark and survived on floating islands of brush like in any flood. Dino drowned.

    Posted by: Sam Molloy | Mar 30, 2012 10:38:38 PM


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