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Conservatives' Trust In Science Has Fallen Dramatically Since Mid-1970s

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the scientism-too dept.

United States 1128

An anonymous reader writes "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 a study by the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. '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,' said the study's lead author. '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."'"

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1128 comments

Obvious (1, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39508927)

Reality has a well known liberal bias. Of course conservatives are going to distrust science. This is going to be the case anywhere and everywhere conservativism is popular.

I don't think so. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 2 years ago | (#39509023)

First off - scienceblog - light grey on white is NOT a good colour scheme for text.

Reality has a well known liberal bias.

Have you been to Reality lately? It's dog eat dog. Literally.

I don't think Reality has a "liberal bias". More like "liberals" are more willing to use science as a means of "validating" their positions.

While "conservatives" are more willing to use religion to "validate" their positions.

Re:I don't think so. (3, Insightful)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | about 2 years ago | (#39509307)

There is some truth to be found here. When the model changed from scientific research pursuing things that could be monetized in the medium term or could create new industries in the long term to research pursuing things that can have federal funding approved in the medium term, different things started being researched.

For one thing, the demand for practicality in order to obtain funds became less. How much money has been poured into ethanol, when it will never produce energy independence or any substantive move in that direction? Ethanol is not viable as an energy source but it's powerful as a political force, so it obtains mountains of funding and subsidy dollars.

It's not that government funding of research is bad, it's that there needs to be balance. Conservatives are less likely to want the government to fund anything - this would defund some things that are good, and some that are wasteful.

It's not a clear right/wrong. Right/wrong applies to individual situations, not to ideologies as a whole, despite what this posts's ancestors seem to believe.

Re:I don't think so. (3, Insightful)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 2 years ago | (#39509483)

Did you read the article?

"...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 problem is conservatives see Science is more focused on regulations and since conservatives oppose regulations - hello Koch brothers - they oppose science.

It's that simple. When two are aligned towards the same goal, there is no opposition. When it's perceived that science is aligned against them, there is opposition.

Re:I don't think so. (4, Insightful)

iserlohn (49556) | about 2 years ago | (#39509495)

You (and the GP) missed the point by a mile. This isn't about funding, it's about accepting (and having trust in) the output of scientific research and the conlusions drawn up by them.

Science is not a reliogion. It is the difference between trusting and believing - as in some people believe what is written in a 1600 year old book, but doesn't trust their contemporaries distilling the truth of our physical realm. Really, a sad state.

Re:I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509315)

Perhaps you missed certain liberal ideas, like freedom of speech, voting for the common man and not just the wealthy, women's suffrage, women having the right to divorce, abolition of slavery, end of sodomy laws criminalizing homosexuality.

Re:I don't think so. (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | about 2 years ago | (#39509397)

Simpler than that.

"Conservatives" have begun to distrust science since 1970, which is the point at which Nixon began the GOP's running with the "Southern Strategy" and the GOP began to asymptotically approach definition as a collection of religious wack-jobs and robber barons. Religious wack-jobs distrust science because they believe their cult's book trumps science, and robber barons don't really distrust science, but they dislike when its conclusions lead to government policies stopping them from making a quick buck by destroying the environment and the lives of the general population.

Re:Obvious (3, Informative)

BiggoronSword (1135013) | about 2 years ago | (#39509029)

There's a difference between social conservatives and fiscal conservatives.

Re:Obvious (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509111)

Yes, there is.

Social conservatives only want to support people who think like they do, and fiscal conservatives only want to fund people who think like they do.

There's a similarity, too. Can you guess what it is?

Re:Obvious (0)

Hartree (191324) | about 2 years ago | (#39509155)

"There's a similarity, too. Can you guess what it is?"

That Anonymous Cowards talk trash about them?

(Of course, ACs talk trash about everyone. Even other ACs.)

Re:Obvious (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#39509283)

That's false. I am a fiscal conservative. It simply means that we want ppl to handle a checkbook responsibly. Sadly, the neo-cons scream fiscal conservative, but they account for most of the debt. In addition, other than FDR handling GD and WWII and O handling the current mess, dems have shown far more fiscal conservationism than has the republicans ever since the neo-cons took over the republican party.

Re:Obvious (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509085)

Reality has a well known liberal bias.

I am a liberal, and I cringe whenever I see a liberal say this. It just makes you look hard-headed. It was originally intended as a joke, and it stopped being funny a long time ago.

Re:Obvious (5, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39509091)

Reality doesn't care about your ideology at all, actually.

That being said, we all know how religious forces took over the Republican Party since the 1970s, and you have a lot of these religious folks who call themselves conservatives. Is this news? The key phrase here is "self-identified conservatives."

Re:Obvious (1)

ILongForDarkness (1134931) | about 2 years ago | (#39509161)

Do the religious folks who claim to be conservatives also vote conservatively? If so than "self-identified conservatives" can just be replaced with conservatives.

I think it is ridiculous that religious and political organizations are tax deductible. Somehow the government making it easier for each group to try to brainwash people into their way of thinking is silly. If you believe something and want to give your money away you do that but don't expect the government to make it easier for you to do so.

Re:Obvious (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39509437)

Of course it doesn't. That's why it's funny. The truth that makes it funny is the reverse. Liberals have a bias towards reality, whereas conservatives base their opinions on ego and fairy tales.

Sneering = lose (4, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | about 2 years ago | (#39509093)

It's this sneering trope -- "reality has a well known liberal bias", a quote of Stephen Colbert, whose work I generally admire -- that gets hauled out every single time this subject comes up. And its point, so far as I can tell, is actually to stifle debate on legitimate politicization that the left has done, particularly with anthropogenic global warming, especially within the scope of the IGCC. When "scientists" start playing politically-minded games with data, engage in semantic and legalistic games to prevent its dissemination, and then complain that they are being treated unfairly or for political reasons -- well, they only have themselves to blame.

Re:Sneering = lose (1, Interesting)

Stavr0 (35032) | about 2 years ago | (#39509373)

Perfect example of where science becomes something to be feared:
- To those unbelieving of global warming (generally conservatives), the science indicates it may be real
- To those believing in global warming (generally liberals), the science cannot demonstrate it beyond a doubt
Science serves neither, so both sides will try to suppress it.

Re:Obvious (3, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#39509253)

It's not that reality has a liberal bias, it's that conservatives in the US especially have a 'not intended to be a factual statement' bias which they seem to have developed since the 70's. This means that on the rare occasion democrats in the US aren't proverbially shooting themselves in the foot there is a small possibility that they may align with facts, for no other reason than it being bound to happen occasionally. Conservatives have institutionalized support for things that aren't factual, and an overt rejection of anything that is factual.

I'm not really sure how that happened and you'd think it would have cost them more business support, after all, businesses can't function unless things they buy, people they hire etc all deal primarily in facts. You can't 'not believe' in Liquid crystals existence, you can't just 'believe' parts from china aren't counterfit etc. 'trust but verify' (popularized in english by Reagan) requires you to do the verification part honestly.

Re:Obvious (1)

Hartree (191324) | about 2 years ago | (#39509321)

"Reality has a well known liberal bias."

Funny. I've yet to have a rock or tree or squirrel or semiconductor sample I've been studying specify a particular political viewpoint.

If you hear them whispering something like "Don't vote for Romney." or "Single payer health care." please let us know. We'll try to get you the help you need.

Of course, if they whisper "Vote for Santorum." you may already be beyond help.

Re:Obvious (4, Funny)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | about 2 years ago | (#39509479)

Actually, most squirrels I know are in favour of Rick Santorum which makes them conservatives.

Apparantly, squirrels like nuts.

It's not science, it's scientists (2)

jdege (88942) | about 2 years ago | (#39509465)

It's not that conservatives have lost faith in science, they've lost faith in scientists. Not quite the same thing.

How convenient (3, Interesting)

Iniamyen (2440798) | about 2 years ago | (#39508955)

Or in other words, around the time that science started suggesting reasons why economic progress can be bad, instead of just helping it along?

Re:How convenient (5, Interesting)

N0Man74 (1620447) | about 2 years ago | (#39509051)

1974 was the year that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed homosexuality as a category of mental disorder.

Twisting science for political or financial gain (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509171)

Or in other words, around the same time that people started using science to justify their political cause. Science used to be about progress, but now it's about power. It's not that conservatives don't trust science, it's that we don't trust the scientists: their motives, their interpretations, or their solutions.

No matter the problem, the solution is always to transfer money or power.

Re:How convenient (0)

sycodon (149926) | about 2 years ago | (#39509431)

About that time (mid seventies) "science" or people purporting to be science started telling us that everything caused cancer. Then they said, "oops never mind". Then they said "wait...yes it does". Look at the saccharine scare, the whole thing about silicon breasts implants (where lawyers hijacked science), etc. etc. etc.

Prior to this science is what brought new and useful products to the market, it took us to the moon, it revealed exciting new information about nature and the universe. Then things turned. Science became the enabler of vast bureaucracies and programs that restricted what people could do and told us we were evil. Some of it was for the good, a lot of it was bullshit.

  Either way, it was inevitable that when someone came to you to take your money or tell you you couldn't do this or that or that you MUST do this or that, things that pretty much everyone hates to hear, they wore the cloak of science to justify their actions.

So yes, when science became the bitch of the control freaks, that's when people started to distrust it.

Horribly biased article (1)

logical_failure (2405644) | about 2 years ago | (#39508977)

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."

Right! Thank Allah that enlightened liberals like use who care about people and are proven smart by being liberal don't agree with the bitter clingers in Jesusland watching NASCAR.

Re:Horribly biased article (1)

logical_failure (2405644) | about 2 years ago | (#39509009)

Mod parent up! +1, Biting Sarcasm!

My point was that liberals do the same damn thing and just as often as conservatives.

Pot, meet kettle.

A pox on BOTH your houses.

Re:Horribly biased article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509043)

aka the I'll Vote for It if It Pisses Off Liberals position.

Trust (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39508985)

Scientists trust in Conservatism has declined since the mid-1970's.

what? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509015)

Slash Dot bashing conservatives? Really, hard to believe.

Apparently... (2, Funny)

WillyWanker (1502057) | about 2 years ago | (#39509025)

Even science can't yet fix stupid.

Re:Apparently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509227)

Thats why I joined the Church.......

Of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Ramen!

Re:Apparently... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509241)

Exactly. Especially when the article is written by an equally stupid liberal minded "scientist".

Trying to put a label on someone being a "conservative" is rather stupid anyway considering it is equally hard to label someone as being "liberal". I personally Im very fiscally conservative (aka I don't like loaning 55% of the budget), but I am somewhat liberal when it comes to social views. So am I liberal or conservative? I am neither and a large percentage of conservatives/liberals think similarly. Also, other than the Fox News chanters, I think most are this way..

Re:Apparently... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509401)

Trying to put a label on someone being a "conservative" is rather stupid anyway

FTA: "self-identified conservatives"... There were no "stupid liberal minded scientists" (and I see you put little quotation marks around the word "scientist" for purposes of defamation instead of quotation) that applied the term "conservative" to anyone. They applied it to themselves.

So am I liberal or conservative?

You are a "moron", and that crosses all political boundaries.

I'm shocked! Shocked! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509027)

The jokes just kinda write themselves for this post...

Communion (0, Flamebait)

stabiesoft (733417) | about 2 years ago | (#39509031)

Perhaps before anyone should be treated by a modern medical facility (I am looking at you cheney with your new heart) you must pledge you believe in science. Is this any different than requiring you to affirm your faith in god before taking comunion? I have never understood had these science naysayers can declare pi should be simplified to 3 or some other such drivel and in the same moment broadcast it on their web blog. People are just stupid.

Re:Communion (5, Informative)

dejaffa (12279) | about 2 years ago | (#39509147)

They DO declare their belief in science by asking to be treated by a modern medical facility. If they really didn't believe it would work, they wouldn't bother.

They're not stupid, they're hypocritical, and lying to themselves about what they believe as much as to anyone else.

Re:Communion (1)

Shifty0x88 (1732980) | about 2 years ago | (#39509317)

They're not stupid, they're hypocritical, and lying to themselves about what they believe as much as to anyone else.

Ah, politics.... (any side, not just republicans)

Re:Communion (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39509485)

Not to defend the anti-science types, but this idea that "Science!" is one big entity is silly. A person can modern medicine is awesome and not believe in, say, the big bang or AGW or whatever.

I love science, but I happen to think string theory is physics going off the rails. Does that make me a hypocrite if I accept an organ transplant?

This "glom it all together" approach to things is what the religious folks do. You don't want to do that, do you? C'mon...

Re:Communion (4, Insightful)

Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) | about 2 years ago | (#39509151)

Good luck with the whole science pledge thing. I don't know how many times lately on Facebook I see someone thanking the Lord (I assume he has a Facebook page) for miracle that saved cousin Fred-Bob. Of course on further questioning, Fred-Bob had a heart attack and someone used a cell phone to call the ambulance, which arrived quickly because the highly trained paramedics had a laptop GPS and maps on it. They used a portable defibrillator and drugs to keep him alive until they got the the hospital where a high trained surgeon used a heart catheter to fix the problem. Of course, praying to Jesus was what really did the trick, No need to thank the scientists who invented all that stuff or the doctor who used science to do the healing.

Re:Communion (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39509301)

Perhaps before anyone should be treated by a modern medical facility (I am looking at you cheney with your new heart) you must pledge you believe in science. Is this any different than requiring you to affirm your faith in god before taking comunion?

Er, yeah. Quite a bit different, actually.

I have never understood had these science naysayers can declare pi should be simplified to 3 or some other such drivel and in the same moment broadcast it on their web blog.

Er, not quite.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indiana_Pi_Bill [wikipedia.org]

Just a badly written bill that never got passed.

People are just stupid.

You've certainly convinced me!

Re:Communion (1)

Reapman (740286) | about 2 years ago | (#39509371)

Really, your going to determine who gets medical treatment based on beliefs?

How is that better then when a religion does it? Oh wait let me guess, the difference is your way is the One True Way, and the others are wrong and most be shown the Light?

"Is this any different than requiring you to affirm your faith in god before taking comunion"
Your comparing communion to medical treatment?

Not believing in science is DUMB. Granting medical access based on beliefs? Beyond dumb.

Huh? (1, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#39509053)

Is "science" a thing to be "trusted in"? What does that even mean? Sounds an awful lot like the headline should read "liberals' use of science as a religion has increased dramatically since mid-1970s".

Re:Huh? (3, Interesting)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | about 2 years ago | (#39509203)

"liberals' use of science as a religion has increased dramatically since mid-1970s".
How in the world do you infer *that* exactly? Seriously, I hear this sort of thing from conservatives and there must be some kind of logic chain that led you to make this conclusion. I'd just like to know what it is, explicitly.

Re:Huh? (0)

XanC (644172) | about 2 years ago | (#39509299)

"Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your God." - Martin Luther

Using a phrase like "trust in science" illustrates that pretty well.

Re:Huh? (3, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | about 2 years ago | (#39509445)

People trust in science because it's self-correcting, and regardless of what you seem to assume, the peer-review process is bloody strict. It's not blind faith, but simply using logic.

Re:Huh? (5, Insightful)

tnk1 (899206) | about 2 years ago | (#39509457)

To be fair, it tends to be more like "University professors and researchers tend to be more liberal since 1974, likely due to social and cultural changes on campuses that started in the 60's. This has led to others conflating scientific progress with liberalism. That has caused conservatives to view the pronouncements of people in those fields with more skepticism than they would have in the past when practitioners of the scientific method tended to take a more neutral, or even conservative view."

In short, all this says is that a bunch of academics are liberals now, and the conservatives are unhappy with science being turned against them as a tool. The result has been that science itself ends up becoming an issue when it shouldn't. Of course, having read some opinions here and hearing some otherwise intelligent people talk, its clear that blame is definitely a two-way street here.

Sick of being wrong? (1)

Xphile101361 (1017774) | about 2 years ago | (#39509105)

I'm sure they are wondering why they should trust in something that seems to always be telling them that they are wrong or that their beliefs don't make sense. It is just like people I know who don't trust the "liberal media", because said media reports things to be contrary to their beliefs.

Maybe science itself is to blame? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509125)

The recent explosion in the number of retractions in scientific journals is just the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of a greater dysfunction that has been evolving the world of biomedical research say the editors-in-chief of two prominent journals in a presentation before a committee of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) today.

"Incentives have evolved over the decades to encourage some behaviors that are detrimental to good science," says Ferric Fang, editor-in-chief of the journal Infection and Immunity, a publication of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), who is speaking today at the meeting of the Committee of Science, Technology, and Law of the NAS along with Arturo Casadevall, editor-in -chief of mBio, the ASM's online, open-access journal.

In the past decade the number of retraction notices for scientific journals has increased more than 10-fold while the number of journals articles published has only increased by 44%. While retractions still represent a very small percentage of the total, the increase is still disturbing because it undermines society's confidence in scientific results and on public policy decisions that are based on those results, says Casadevall. Some of the retractions are due to simple error but many are a result of misconduct including falsification of data and plagiarism.

Link to full summary [physorg.com]. Good thing this bias and falsification of data only exists in the biomedical sciences. Whew! Quick question: you're a researcher and you've just found, by empirical research, something that confirms what conservatives have been saying for decades. The effect of your research will be profound, and likely change the course of public policy. Do you publish, or quietly bury your story? Or, do you falsify data to support what you desire to be true? It happens. For real. Real scientists do this, people just like you.

US, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509135)

you have the most retarded people on Earth...

This article isn't about science (3, Interesting)

concealment (2447304) | about 2 years ago | (#39509139)

This article is about conservatives trying to brand themselves.

They want to find out what liberals support, and be the opposite. Since liberals seem to like science, and it seems to conflict with religion to some people(*), conservatives are rebelling against that.

What "science" actually is has nothing to do with the conservative view, or the liberal one(+).

The real problem that conservatives face here is that their strategy is silly. Defining yourself by what your enemies do will not work. It leaves you open to manipulation and getting backed into a corner. I think that's what is happening here.

----------

* - I don't think this is true at all. Religion is metaphysical poetry, science is its physical counterpart.

+ - I don't believe that "reality has a liberal bias." Reality has a reality bias. It's pointlessly combative to claim that all conservatives are detached from reality (or all liberals)

Trust?? (5, Insightful)

mrquagmire (2326560) | about 2 years ago | (#39509153)

There is no "trust" in science - there is nothing to "believe." Science is just the application of logic and reason to help explain the world around us. So what this article is really saying is that "Conservatives view of the world has dramatically departed reality since 1970." Which sounds pretty plausible to me.

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” -Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Re:Trust?? (5, Interesting)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | about 2 years ago | (#39509347)

I'd dispute that. There is trust in science; more accurately, there is trust in scientists. I can go into my garage, and replicate all sorts of experiements. Tyson had a wonderful essay, called something like 'stick in the mud science' about all of the things you can figure out with a stick, a string, and a rock. However, I can't go into my garage and duplicate most particle physics. Genetics. Medicine. All sorts of stuff. That stuff, I have to take on trust. Note, I don't say 'faith.' I prefer to use the term 'confidence.' One has faith in one's god, one has confidence in scientific consensus.

Re:Trust?? (0)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 years ago | (#39509383)

>There is no "trust" in science - there is nothing to "believe." Close, but you're missing the point. Science is not the natural laws of the universe, science is the study of those laws, and it's scientists (in the mind of conservatives, think of them as 'people who claim to know more than the rest of us') that conservatives don't trust. In order for someone to believe you're telling the truth, they have to trust you. If they don't trust scientists to tell them the truth, then science itself becomes untrusted. In the Conservative vs. Liberal wars, we have two camps that each consist of leaders and followers. Followers follow the leaders, not because they always agree with them, but because they **trust** them. Is that trust misplaced? Possibly, on both sides. Want to know why self-proclaimed Conservatives oppose things like the health care law? It's not because they won't benefit (obviously they will benefit in far greater numbers than more wealthy liberals), it's because it's been successfully branded 'Obamacare', and they simply do not trust Barack Obama to do anything that won't hurt them. His image, to them, is that of a subversive radical Muslim (who wasn't even born here) who is trying to take over the country, and must be stopped at all costs. It has nothing to do with the fact that they can't get insurance, can't get healthcare, whatever. The issues don't matter, it's the image that counts.

Re:Trust?? (1)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 years ago | (#39509407)

MODS: Please bury this post to oblivion. I will repost with better formatting. Dammit, Slashdot - let us edit our damned posts already!

Re:Trust?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509409)

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.â -Neil DeGrasse Tyson

The exact same thing has also been said about God.

Re:Trust?? (4, Insightful)

wiggles (30088) | about 2 years ago | (#39509477)

>There is no "trust" in science - there is nothing to "believe."

Close, but you're missing the point. Science is not the natural laws of the universe, science is the study of those laws, and it's scientists (in the mind of conservatives, think of them as 'people who claim to know more than the rest of us') that conservatives don't trust. In order for someone to believe you're telling the truth, they have to trust you. If they don't trust scientists to tell them the truth, then science itself becomes untrusted. In the Conservative vs. Liberal wars, we have two camps that each consist of leaders and followers. Followers follow the leaders, not because they always agree with them, but because they **trust** them. Is that trust misplaced? Possibly, on both sides.

Want to know why self-proclaimed Conservatives oppose things like the health care law? It's not because they won't benefit (obviously they will benefit in far greater numbers than more wealthy liberals), it's because it's been successfully branded 'Obamacare', and they simply do not trust Barack Obama to do anything that won't hurt them. His image, to them, is that of a subversive radical Muslim (who wasn't even born here) who is trying to take over the country, and must be stopped at all costs. It has nothing to do with the fact that they can't get insurance, can't get healthcare, whatever. The issues don't matter, it's the image that counts.

Ignorance is bliss (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509163)

This is proof that for conservatives ignorance truly is bliss.

Conservatism and science are not at odds. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509167)

Slashdot is going downhill if it continues to post stories like this. Just because a particular idea is in the scientific realm doesn't make it true. When scientific studies start to become funded by organizations without an agenda, I will trust science a little bit more. Maybe. Nah that's never gonna happen. There has been so much bad science over the past 40-50 years, everyone, conservatives and liberals alike should always have a healthy distrust in science. This is how science advances.

well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509193)

Look around and see what science has done to the place and then try to say they (conservatives) don't have a point with a straight face.

Re:well (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#39509391)

Hmmm. Roads, bridges, saving lives, putting us in space and on the moon, putting us at the bottom of the ocean, etc. Science is simply the pursuit of knowledge about our world. Our problems come about when ppl esp. politicians mis-use this information

Somehow, I do not think that it is conservatives (5, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | about 2 years ago | (#39509213)

but the neo-conseravatives. There are many conservatives that do not subscribe to the following of reagan and W. Basically, it is these 2 and their followers that fight against science, logic and facts. You will find that nearly all support the concept of creationism, fight against the idea that Global Climate Change is cause by man.
They will argue that Russia is enemy #1 and claim support for private enterprise, but then push for the Space Launch System (in which CONgress, mostly neo-cons designate WHICH companies will provide WHICH parts for a shuttle derivative and costing us 60 billion), push for us to be reliant on Russia for another decade of rocket launches and works to destroy private space.
Likewise, they will argue that Corporations should be ONLY for making profits and have absolutely no conscience, but then want them to be able to lobby, influence congress, and some have said that they want to give them a vote. Yet, at the same time, they scream that society is broken morally.

This lack of logic continues over and over and over. It has become a broken record with the no-cons.

OTOH, many conservatives and real republicans fully support science, logic, etc. and what can be learned from it. Sadly, they are now a minority of the republican party. Many of them are driven out with the neo-cons screaming that those ppl are RINOs and are actually liberals. Sad that America has sunk this low.

Scientists, not science (2, Insightful)

Chemisor (97276) | about 2 years ago | (#39509215)

As a self-identified conservative I would like to clarify that the increased lack of trust is in the scientists, not science itself. To trust a man means to expect him to always try to do the right thing, and since the 70s or so higher education has been almost exclusively the domain of liberalism, a philosophy whose definition of "right" is diametrically opposed to the conservative one. Is it any surprize that there can be no trust between us?

More specifically, the lack of trust in the scientists directly results in the lack of trust in any data or conclusions produced by these scientists. We all know that a biased experimenter often produces the results he is looking for; that is why we usually insist on double blind experiments in areas where bias is a factor. A liberal scientist will thus have a significantly higher burden of proof, which, in my experience with politically charged subjects such as AGW, has not yet been met.

Without trust in the scientists the only way to really believe their results is to reproduce their experiments and see for ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us are not qualified to do so, hence today's political standoff.

Re:Scientists, not science (1)

pinkocommie (696223) | about 2 years ago | (#39509453)

that is why we usually insist on double blind experiments in areas where bias is a factor.
'We' insist on double blind experiments because they're more stringent and exacting... not a matter of whether or not you trust the scientist
About AGW etc most of us (at least on slashdot and to a great extent anyone willing to devote some spare time) to understand the data. Instead of trusting what you read in the media (liberal, conservative, neutral whatever) go and read the papers and the data directly and based on those figure out what is going on. Yes it'll require a bit more time but will give you a better idea

Mod me down and I shall become more powerful..... (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 2 years ago | (#39509217)

âoeThere is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.â
Isaac Asimov

"It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't so."
Will Rogers

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it."
Upton Sinclair

"Reality has a well-known liberal bias."
Stephen Colbert

I have a little something I call the parable of the investment opportunity. Dick has the option of investing in this exciting new product that promises to double his money in twelve months. Jane is skeptical. The two can jawbone back and forth all day long.

Jane explains that it looks like a bad idea, resembles many other bad ideas, the person presenting the opportunity has a history of failed schemes, and the whole thing looks too risky.

Dick feels she's being too negative. She's not embracing opportunity. He has a prospectus printed in full color on expensive paper and the pitchman has such a nice haircut, really looks like someone you could do business with.

It's impossible to know how the investment will turn out until it's made, even if anyone watching the two of them argue will more than likely have a strong opinion before long.

Dick makes the investment. Twelve months later, he's lost all his money. Not only that but he's lost it in exactly the way Jane predicted, for the reasons she listed.

Now for most people, this would be some pretty compelling evidence. Not so for Dick! Perhaps it wasn't a bad idea, he just didn't apply it with enough vigor. Perhaps there was an external factor that sabotaged what was otherwise a sound idea. Does he reevaluate? Does he reexamine? No, he'll double-down. And Jane is still an ignorant slut.

Conservatives do not have a monopoly on stupidity (1)

AttyBobDobalina (2525082) | about 2 years ago | (#39509225)

There may be some religious folks who self-identify as conservative who do not trust science, although I would like to see exactly what questions were asked in this survey. But there are plenty of liberals who deny the realities of evidence too. People of every political stripe tend to see what they want to see. Moreover, let's apply scientific analysis to the study in the American Sociological Review. How does one reasonably define "science?" Does "science" include doctors, medicine, biology, or was the study in the surely-unbiased American Sociological Review slanted toward the hot-button issues of climate change, etc.? How does one reasonably define "trust"? If I question the scientific rigor of this study, does that make me some kind of a Conservative? Maybe people who tend to be Conservative are also the same types of people who have a healthy degree of skepticism.

Inconvenient truths (2)

Stavr0 (35032) | about 2 years ago | (#39509235)

Science has this annoying tendency to reveal facts, and when these facts clash with one's ideology, it makes them uncomfortable.

Repeat that enough times and science becomes something to be feared. Can't have science go and ruin one's world view.

Token Slashdot conservative here (3, Insightful)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 2 years ago | (#39509243)

I'd identify myself as conservative, and at least in my case my trust in science has not decreased. That said, my trust in the scientific community has certainly decreased in the last decade or two. Of course, I could say the same about humanity as a whole. I wasn't even born by the 1970s, so most of my decreasing trust could probably be attributed to simply growing up and realizing that the world is filled with people on all sides who have agendas.

Seems reasonable (3, Insightful)

million_monkeys (2480792) | about 2 years ago | (#39509249)

'conservative' means different things to different people, but checking the dictionary gives this definition: "disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change."

I think most people agree science is a driving force for change, whether through application of new knowledge or development of new technology. So, at least based on the definition above, science directly opposes conservative goals. It's not surprising for people to distrust something that actively threatens their ideology.

neoconservatism abhors education is all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509261)

Conservatism in the classical "don't change shit with good intentions to make it better because actually you'll make things worse" - right or wrong - is nowhere near the sort of conservatism we have today. Today's conservatism, which in the UK was traditionall called "Thatcherism" and is a feature of both the Tory and New Labour parties, has a few clear tenets, based on the first enumerated below:

1) An understanding that man needs only finite riches to survive his finite life;

2) So, instead of aiming for long-term profitability, you aim for a few short years of sufficient bonus that you can retire in the lap of luxury;

3) Instead of allowing people to develop a stable and secure career in whatever intellectual or vocational pursuit suits them, you plough them through mind-numbing high school and college, moulding them into a particular pliant, servile thought pattern while milking them or their parents for cash and keeping them out of the unemployment statistics;

4) Instead of thinking of disability as something to be supported to help people be productive, apply propaganda to regard the disabled - who won't give you the short term bursts of menial labour you're hoping for - as merely lazy and dishonest ("disability denial");

5) Plunder foreign nations under the guise of "liberating". Never mind that you're going to make things worse in the long term, or that it's very rare for a particular long-term oppressed culture to become better through being conquered (a second time) - what you want is to extract a decade or two of meat and materials;

6) Science is only useful to the extent that it has already provided low risk, high return technologies. Anything concerning long-term developments or consequences is to be ignored. See 3) for the importance of instilling this belief in others.

7) Big government is essential to tailor laws in your favour. When you want to deregulate, say it's because "the market works"; when you want to regulate, list one of the usual bogeymen: terrorists, paedophiles, etc.

But I thought they were pro defence? (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | about 2 years ago | (#39509265)

Assuming these are American conservatives, I find that odd, as they claim to be big on defence and military, and the American military has always used it's technological prowess as a force multiplier.

So Strange ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509267)

So strange given that the truth of science hasn't changed much since the 70's.

This has been going on (3, Interesting)

Stargoat (658863) | about 2 years ago | (#39509273)

This has been gradually leading up for a century and more. Conservatives have always been doubtful of science, preferring to believe what they had been told in their youth. For them, it is easier to believe in the mad ramblings of an old book than a system of thought that has borne the fruit of progress for four centuries. There is no fundamental difference between the Catholic Church's assaults on Giordano Bruno and Galileo and the Evangelical assault on Evolution in schools. (For people who condemn Popery so strongly, this is especially amusing.) That there was ever an embrace of science on the conservative side only reflects the reality of the world as was discovered in the Second World War. That is to say, even the most stupid of Evangelicals must acknowledge we are better off with atomic bombs and ICMBs than without. Of course, it might be acknowledged that this is only an extension of the conservative love of spreading doctrine through violence rather than rhetoric and scientific persuasion.

Yes, the ones who call themselves liberals have their own problems with science. The stupid stupid lies of postmodernist thought destroyed a generation and a half of potential scientists, but the important thing is that science is pulling away from that abhorrent clap trap.

Scientific research suggests.. (1)

greywire (78262) | about 2 years ago | (#39509279)

Changing title to: "The dumb get dumberer since the 1970's"

I think it is due in large part to the easy access to vast amounts of information due to electronic distribution (faster, easier, cheaper). While this allows smart people to become more informed than ever before, it also allows dumb people to collect more dumb and incorrect "information" and become dumber while at the same time thinking they are in fact smarter. And that's a dangerous combination.

Get used to it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509305)

Reality has a liberal bias and evolution has a religious bias.

This is not a one-dimensional problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509329)

Part of the problem is, things calling themselves "science" that are actually just rhetoric or agenda, cloaked in the mantle of science in order to sound more persuasive.

http://reprog.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/the-scandal-of-academic-publishing/

There is a scandal, not with a single publisher, but with the entire industry of academic publishing. I am not going to try to say this is only a problem with science, or even "they're both bad, so vote Republican" but ... to look at this issue as if it is entirely a "problem" with conservatives is to escalate and worsen some of the underlying root causes.

Science as the Ideal or Science as an Institution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509335)

As a self-identified moderate atheist, I certainly trust the ideal of science. I trust the scientific method.

However, as an institution, the scientific community is very political in itself and influenced by interests outside science. Obviously, a desire for further funding also influences scientists.

So, while I trust science as an ideal, I don't fully trust science as an institution because science is people and I don't trust people.

The nature of Conservatism is fear (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509341)

Conservatives fear change. They want the world to remain eternally as it is now. The new is a forbidding unknown. Science, curiosity, the quest for knowledge necessitates change. New understanding necessitates the toppling of sacred cows. No surprises here.

Religion is why (3, Insightful)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | about 2 years ago | (#39509349)

We all know the "reason" for this... Religion. Lets just call it like it is. The Judaeo-Christian worldview is by-and-large anti-science. I don't think it set out to be that way though, but more as a reflection of 1st millennium B.C. thinking. Nothing unusual in the stories from the Old Testament, when taken in the context of their times. However, Mankind(and Man) has learned and experienced quite a lot since 1000 B.C. The interesting thing, in a terrifying way(Al Qaida, Iran, Evangelical Christians, etc;) is that even with the benefits of science staring them in the face, people still take these Iron Age myths as The Truth.

Your typical liberal has more of a "critical thinking" worldview, maybe not much more, but enough to tip the balance away from "Doctrines and Covenants" that require a suspension of dis-belief, require blind faith.

So the question is, why are conservatives NOW so anti-science, when even a generation or two ago it wasn't like that? Well, we all know the answer to that as well, which is a combination of Right-Wing Media, the ease of dis-information via The Internet, and a Republican party that has poly morphed into something very different from the Republican party of even the 1980's.

Another key ingredient is that conservatives in general have a "good old days" mentality. They seek to attempt to go back to how things used to be, when things "appeared" simpler, when there was "order" in the world, etc;. We all know that is utter bullshit, and there is no "going home" as it were. Liberals are more apt to embrace change and understand we had to adapt to the changing world, not get the world to adapt to us.

Idiots defining themselves (1)

retroworks (652802) | about 2 years ago | (#39509359)

Stupid A believes in the biblical story of Genesis, identifies himself as conservative, and is anti-science. Stupid person B believes in Astrology, identifies herself as a liberal, and is anti-math.

Whether anti-science people brand themselves as "conservatives" does correlate to how other people choose to define themselves. Person B and Person A can argue all day long, proving the other stupid does not make Genesis or Astrology more correct. Run an SPSS on this. How stupid people define themselves is a fairly random data point, historically, but believing people in robes (white priests or purple astrologers) doesn't make what they eat, drink, pray, or profess to be anything other than a correlation.

So in other words... (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#39509363)

... stupid and ignorant people increasingly justify their stupidity and ignorance by cloaking it in a political identity.

There is objective truth in science. But in politics, there is no "right and wrong" -- only opposing points of view with equal legitimacy.

I can be as ignorant, stupid and nasty as I want. All I have to do is say "I'm a conservative", and it's all right then.

Ideas as badges (2)

ZankerH (1401751) | about 2 years ago | (#39509365)

For most of our species' history, the only use of our ideas was as badges of allegiance, since there was no way we knew of to use them on the outside world. "Conservatives" are just stuck in pre-history in the sense that they're refusing to use ideas as anything more than an indicator of allegiance.

The activists (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#39509393)

I think this grew from the surge in grass-roots political activism from the conservative side. Well, not just the surge, but also the comparative ineffectiveness of that surge vs those on the liberal side. Take creationists for example, there has been an effort from the bottom up to put dressed-up religiosity back into schools. So when they get shot down by the coalition of atheists and those who are religious-but-also-adamantly-adherent-to-the-constitution, they start to grow that victim mentality where it feels like there's a conspiracy behind every corner.

Anti-education, pro-sheepification (1)

fleeped (1945926) | about 2 years ago | (#39509411)

Lack of trust fed and driven by powers that want their subjects to remain uneducated, and thus more easily controllable.

What do you expect (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509439)

When you shortchange the rigor of science for the expediency of a political goal.

Science looses, even if the goal is correct and the science eventually proves out.
    Or course if the science doesn't prove out, then it's much worse.

It doesn't matter if it's a demo pushing climate change or a repub pushing creation.
  Science still looses.

Which is unfortunate because science is actually needed to satisfy many of these goals.

No sport in it... (1)

Jawnn (445279) | about 2 years ago | (#39509473)

I was going to do the obvious thing. You know. Take the easy shot that TFA so beautifully sets up, but there's just no sport in it...
Ahhh, what the hell...
As WillyWanker so aptly puts it, "Even science can't fix stupid." And that's the sad and scary reality here. These people have chosen to disregard science, a discipline that has led to staggering leaps in our understanding of the world and the way it works. They have chosen to be stupid.
There, that's better.
Now, would someone kindly explain this phenomenon to me? Why would anyone, with anything approaching a normal capacity for reason, do such a thing?

They like science when their life is in danger (3, Insightful)

tekrat (242117) | about 2 years ago | (#39509489)

"Conservatives" sure do seem to trust science when they get cancer, or need an operation. Then all of a sudden, there aren't enough medical advances to suit them. They'll shell out tons of cash to extend their lives just a wee bit more.

Dick Cheney just had a heart transplant, and the donor was probably some guy he shot in the face. Tell me Dick Cheney doesn't "trust science" when it comes to keeping him alive.

Evidence shows this is a lie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39509499)

If conservatives really distrust science so much, they should stop using computers, phones, air conditioning, refrigerators, electric stoves and ovens, cars, and modern medicine, to name just a few things. I don't think the Amish population has grown that much so even though the conservatives might SAY they don't trust science, the fact is they do. They might just be too stupid to realize it.

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