Republicans more skeptical of astrology than Democrats

By Razib Khan | August 26, 2011 10:30 pm

Someone on twitter was curious about GOP attitudes toward astrology. I left the party breakdown out of the previous post because ideology accounts for most party differences. In other words, conservatives are more skeptical of astrology than liberals, and Republicans more than Democrats, but the second result just seems to emerge from the Republican’s greater conservatism.

Astrology very scientific Astrology somewhat scientific Astrology not scientific
Strong Democrat 6 31 63
Democrat 7 30 63
Lean Democrat 4 28 67
Independent 7 37 57
Lean Republican 3 26 71
Republican 4 21 75
Strong Republican 4 20 76

Why are independents so gullible? It probably has to do with their lower average intelligence (this goes for moderates too). So I simply limited the sample to those with at least bachelor’s degrees to control for intelligence:

Limited to those with college degrees or more
Astrology very scientific Astrology somewhat scientific Astrology not scientific
Strong Democrat 3 21 76
Democrat 4 17 79
Lean Democrat 2 21 78
Independent 4 22 75
Lean Republican 1 9 90
Republican 0 11 88
Strong Republican 1 10 89

The distinctiveness of independents diminishes somewhat, but Democrats with college degrees or more remain more gullible than Republicans with the same (the difference remains if you control for sex by the way).

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Data Analysis, GSS
MORE ABOUT: Astrology, GSS
  • Cornflower

    I suspect that the differences by party might be explained by religious affiliation, in that there is also a greater portion of what I might call “religiously conservative” Christianity (bible-believing, etc.) among the Republican population that among the Democratic. This form of Christianity explicitly frowns upon astrology in its teachings. Mainstream denominations of Christianity, along with those who believe agnostic-ally, are much more open to allowing its members to believe other ‘spiritual’ things, so astrology, while frowned upon, is not mentioned as being frowned upon often at all.

    I suspect that if you took controlled for denomination (e.g., Southern Baptist Republicans vs. S. B. Democrats vs S. B. Independents, the same for Episcopalians, the same for atheists, etc.) much if not most of the differences by party would fade away.

    Does the General Social Survey give this breakdown?

  • http://donnetowntoday.blogspot.com/ Zucchi

    I tend to agree with Cornflower. A lot of conservative Christian people will discount astrology not because they’re scientifically-minded skeptics, but because they feel it conflicts with the different brand of BS that they believe in.

  • http://lyingeyes.blogspot.com ziel

    I suspect that if you took controlled for denomination (e.g., Southern Baptist Republicans vs. S. B. Democrats vs S. B. Independents, the same for Episcopalians, the same for atheists, etc.) much if not most of the differences by party would fade away.

    GSS doesn’t have those kinds of specific religious breakdowns (I don’t think), but if you limit it to only those who “Knows God Exists” or believe that the Bible is “the Word of God” you get very similar results – i.e., Republicans much more skeptical of Astrology than Democrats.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    #4, it does. “denom.” there’s a huge difference between dem and rep southern baptists. a 40 point difference. the issue is among religious dems vs. religious repubs. especially in ‘conservative’ churches.

  • http://artikcat@wordpress.com Roberto

    …” So I simply limited the sample to those with at least bachelor’s degrees to control for intelligence:” Without further explanation from you, this statement is questionable, at least.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    Without further explanation from you, this statement is questionable, at least.

    is english your second language? you sound like an asshole if it is your first language.

  • http://artikcat@wordpress.com Roberto

    Thank you Mr Khan, you are simply hilarious

  • ST

    At least they’re not trying to make astrology public policy. ;-)

    Anyway, I’m not so sure boiling it down to right-leaning southern baptists vs. left-leaning southern baptists even really refutes Cornflower’s greater point. I’d wager the religious right is probably more inclined to reflexively reject new-ageyness than the religious left.

  • http://lyingeyes.blogspot.com ziel

    Thanks – I see what you’re saying about Sothern Baptists. For DENOM >= 40 (Presbyterians/Episcopalians) the difference is much smaller – but still there to some extent.

  • http://honesttogodless.blogspot.com Matt Foss

    Are independents more gullible, or are more independents gullible? We’re talking about a heterogeneous group whose only common trait is that they don’t support either major party. I wager that the average intelligence in that category is watered down by people who lack a political affiliation out of ignorance rather than out of skepticism toward both parties.

  • ackbark

    There are leftists who have so enculturated the idea of skepticism as rationality they have a skepticism of skepticism itself, which lends itself to playings around with ‘spirituality’ and what not.

  • http://www.astraean.com/borderwars/ Christopher@BorderWars

    There’s growing discussion on the New Age spirituality among leftists filling the gaps that leaving other organized religions have left.

    Here’s an article by Ebert of all people talking about it.

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2009/12/new_agers_and_creationists_sho.html

    Evolution seems to be a favorite battering ram of the left to bash the Republican-leaning fundies who believe in “Intelligent Design” but the wholesale acceptance of new age mysticism and “spirituality” is just as bogus IMO.

    I went to Catholic Schools for a time and we learned evolution. There wasn’t even a debate.

    Richard Dawkins has an interesting documentary on the subject:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgcYxyaW5yE

    But I guess we should remember that the good guys LOST the Scopes Monkey Trial.

  • Bob Swartz

    Soon David Brooks will have a book on the insights that epigenetics brings to human behavior, something like “we can be selfish and nice at the same time owing to methylation of the genome.”

  • Clark

    Christopher, I wish fundamentalists accepted ID proper since then they’d at least accept most of evolutionary theory. However really what they favor is young earth creationism and then they’ll throw out the ID tag because they think it has some quasi-scientific respectability without understanding how much of evolution Behe and company accept. Not that it makes ID any less crazy. It’s just a formalization of the old god of the gaps arguments. But at least they accept the actual history of the world unlike most fundamentalists who appear to think men around the time of Noah were riding dinosaurs like horses. I think the great con of the creationist movement was to try and introduce god of the gaps as ID and then go and use the term amongst fundamentalists as if it were analogous to creationism.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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