Study: Conservatives in the 70s Were Way Less Skeptical of Science

A new study has found that self-identified conservatives' trust in science has plummeted since 1974. Interestingly, the drop was most pronounced in college-educated conservatives, who began losing trust in the institution earlier and with greater force than their less educated counterparts.

According to the study's author, Gordon Gauchat, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in 1974, nearly half of conservatives reported they had "a great deal" of trust in the scientific community. In fact, these groovy cats were slightly more confident in science than Liberals, who have remained fairly steady in their opinion since then.

By 2010, the population of conservatives claiming a great deal of trust in science had dropped below than 35 percent.

The findings were based on responses given to the General Social Survey, a long-running sociology project that has been interviewing Americans about their level of trust in public institutions (such as the scientific community, the Supreme Court, and television) since the 1970s.

Gauchat theorizes that the drop in science confidence could be attributed to what today's educated conservatives perceive as a link between science and government regulation.

"In the past, the scientific community was viewed as concerned primarily with macro structural matters such as winning the space race. Today, conservatives perceive the scientific community as more focused on regulatory matters such as stopping industry from producing too much carbon dioxide."

In other words, once science's primary objectives shifted from getting creating atomic weapons and getting to the moon, everyone realized it was a bunch of bull.

The study was published in the April issue of the American Sociological Review.

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