A new paper, published in the journal Social Forces by sociologist Gordon Gauchat of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee shows fundies reject science.
“The direct effect’ of liberal-conservative orientation is spurious once the distinct belief systems that underlie those identifications are accounted for,” wrote Gauchat.
Which belief systems? In particular, being a biblical literalist endorsing the statement, “The Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word” was a much bigger factor than liberalism or conservatism in explaining why some people disagreed with the use of science in “concrete government policy decisions,” and also why they were against federal science funding.
“Overall, these results show that perceptions of science are polarized, but this political discord reflects deeper cultural belief systems that cohere on the political right,” wrote Gauchat.
Gauchat also found something else striking: Political ideology became more significant in driving people’s views about science as they became more scientifically literate. Thus, being a liberal or a conservative alone didn’t matter much to how the questions above were answered outside of the cases where political beliefs were combined with scientific knowledge.
“Only for scientifically sophisticated respondents, those 1.5 standard units above the mean, is conservative political ideology associated with less favorable views towards science’s authority,” wrote Gauchat. That’s not surprising: More scientifically literate conservatives are surely more literate and informed in all aspects of life, including politics. And thus, they’re more likely to be aware that the scientific community is a very politically liberal place, overall far more liberal than the American public.
And knowing this, in turn, they’re inclined to distrust it.