Politics Magazine

Are We A Nation Of Science-Deniers ?

Posted on the 07 February 2015 by Jobsanger
Are We A Nation Of Science-Deniers ?
The chart above, made from information from the Pew Research Center, shows that about 8 out of 10 Americans think science had made life easier for people in the United States. That makes it seem as if we are a nation that largely believes in science. Is that true?
Not necessarily. Pew did a couple of surveys that showed a troubling trend. They questioned 2,002 adults about some scientific beliefs between August 15th and 25th of 2014 (and their survey had a margin of error of 3.1 points). Then they asked those same questions of 3,748 U.S. members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science between September 11th and October 13th of 2014 (and that survey had a margin of error of 1.7 points).
The results of those surveys are illustrated in the chart below. Note that on most scientific questions the beliefs of the general public differ markedly from those of scientists. For instance, 86% of all scientists believe vaccinations should be required in this country, while only 68% of the general public believes that -- a significant difference of 18 points. And the difference is even larger with some beliefs.
The general consensus seems to be that most science deniers are on the right -- especially the evangelical right-wing. And that is true to some extent. They do disagree with scientists on matters like evolution, climate change, and off-shore drilling. And their beliefs have made the most headlines because they insist on trying to insert them into the science curriculum in our schools.
But they are not the only science deniers in this country. Sadly, the left also has its share. They just choose different branches of science to deny than the right does. For instance, many on the left deny the safety of foods that have been genetically-modified or grown using pesticides, even though most scientists disagree with that view. It seems that a degree of science denial exists across the political spectrum.
Are we a nation of science-deniers? Yes, we are. We just do it a bit differently than science-deniers in the past did. Back in the Dark Ages, people rejected all of science (believing it to be blasphemous of religion). We are a lot more sophisticated in our science-denial today. We know that denying all science would make us look like Luddites, so we pick what parts of science we want to reject while accepting other parts -- and many times our political or religious beliefs will determine which parts of science we reject.
Are We A Nation Of Science-Deniers ?

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