Research: Republican Trust In Science Declines & We are Now Seeing the Consequences
If you are wondering why anti-vax rhetoric is so prevalent among Republicans, a new survey from the Gallup organization should help to explain the phenomenon. Trust in science has tanked over the last few decades among those that identify as Republicans, falling from 72% in 1975 to just 45% today. Among Democrats, 67% had a "great deal" of trust in 1975 and it has risen to 79% today.
Gallup's results are quite remarkable, and a bit scary. Individuals with lower trust in science are much more susceptible to hoaxes and misinformation and we are now seeing the results of that with the ever-growing number of anti-vax conspiracy theories spread by those on the political right. Gallup mentions that as a consequence of their findings.
Gallup: .. "Republicans' lack of trust in science opens up the possibility of their being more vulnerable to influence by ideas that lack scientific support, especially if those ideas are advanced by political conservatives they implicitly trust."
"One real-world manifestation of Republicans' lack of faith in science is the greater reluctance among Republicans than Democrats to get COVID-19 vaccines. Lagging vaccination rates in conservative-leaning states have caused some Republican governors, such as Jim Justice of West Virginia and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, to urge citizens of their states to get vaccinated before more contagious and, possibly, more deadly variants of the coronavirus spread to their states."
The current vaccination rates in red states are abysmal. In one of the most conservative states in the nation, Mississippi, only 37% of the public has had at least one shot. Compare that to Vermont, where 74% have had one or more doses. That's what science-denial looks like, and it's killing people.
AP: .. "Only about 150 of the more than 18,000 COVID-19 deaths in May were in fully vaccinated people. That translates to about 0.8%, or five deaths per day on average."
So, what explains the widening gap between the parties regarding science and, more specifically, the rise of science-denial among conservatives? There are four interrelated trends.
1. As we have noted before, over the last few decades college educated voters have been abandoning the GOP to join the Democratic Party. Research has shown that highly educated individuals have a greater trust in science.
2. During the same period, white evangelical Christians have flocked to the GOP because of their opposition to abortion and LGBT rights. Many of these individuals have had a long dispute with science over evolution the "big bang" theory, gay conversion therapy, and a host of other issues.
3. One of the most pressing issues we face today, climate change, is also one of the most divisive. The big business/anti-regulation component of the Republican Party has had a vested interest in impugning both the motives and competence of climate scientists and they have been unrelenting. The fallout from those attacks has spilled out across the sciences generally.
Gallup: "The disputes over the coronavirus come as Republicans express doubts about the scientific consensus on climate change, something Democrats widely accept."
4. The Gallup survey comes on the heels of the most anti-science presidential administration in the nation's history in which the Environmental Protection Agency was run by a former coal lobbyist, wind turbines caused cancer, and Covid was a "hoax". So, if you are a Trump supporter, being a science-denier is a badge of honor.
New York Times: “Donald Trump is the most anti-science and anti-environment president we’ve ever had,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. The president’s actions, he said, have eroded one of the United States’s most enviable assets: the government’s deep scientific expertise, built over decades. “It’s extraordinarily crazy and reckless."
Considering these four trends, Republican science skepticism is not very surprising. Actually, it has become a defining characteristic of the modern GOP.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content