Conservatives Lose Faith in Science over Last 40 Years
A new academic analysis finds conservatives expressing more and more distrust in science in recent decades, particularly educated conservatives
Conservatives' trust of science has gradually decreased over the past 40 years, beginning perhaps when empirical research was increasingly used to justify government regulations, according to a new academic analysis.
The study, appearing this week in the April edition of the journal American Sociological Review, identifies a 25 percent drop among conservatives who express trust in the scientific community since 1974. That decline is striking to researchers because conservatives were more trusting of science than other political groups when data were first collected nearly four decades ago.
"Regulatory science directly connects to policy management and, therefore, has become entangled in policy debates that are unavoidably ideological," the paper says. "The shift toward regulatory science that began in the 1970s could account for conservatives' growing distrust in science, given this group's general opposition to government regulation."