Friday, September 11, 2015

The Degree of Politicization of Views on Scientific Issues

There is an interesting (long) report from the Pew Research Center on this topic. For example:
71% of Democrats and independents who lean to the Democratic Party say the Earth
is warming due to human activity, compared with 27% among their Republican counterparts (a difference of 44 percentage points). This report shows that these differences hold even when taking into account the differing characteristics of Democrats and Republicans, such as their different age and racial profiles. 
Democrats and leaning Democrats also are more likely to favor policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and promote alternative energy sources. Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP are more likely favor some key energy development policies such as offshore oil drilling, fracking and construction of nuclear power plants. In a December 2014 Pew Research survey, fully 75% of Democrats and leaning Democrats said the United States should prioritize alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar power, over expansion of oil, coal and gas production. By contrast, only 43% of Republicans and leaning Republicans expressed support for prioritizing alternative energy production over traditional energy development. 
Here is another finding from the report:
Fully 83% of Democrats and leaning Democrats say government investment in basic scientific research pays off in the long run, and just 12% say such investments are not worth it. A considerably smaller majority of the GOP and independents who lean to the GOP see benefits from government funding of basic science; 62% say government investments pay off in the long run, but 33% say such investments are not worth it.
 I don't think this is a good thing -- that people divide about issues of scientific consensus as they divide by party affiliation, but I don't have anything useful to suggest about it (other perhaps that it is not a good idea to have GOP control of the Congress because that then puts control of government expenditures on science and technology in the hands of the party that campaigns frequently against the scientific consensus). 

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