In the comments Chad says:
The Right is not inherently anti-science. Yes there are some morons out there who glorify in their ignorance, but lets recognize them for who they are, extremist idiots. This does not describe the majority of those on the Right. It doesn’t even describe the majority of creationists who are for the most part more concerned with work and children to be bothered to think about the origins of life in an average week. One can also point to similar kooks on the Left. Not just the genetic denialism described here, but also rejection of animal research, genetic engineering, organic farming, anti-vaccinations, etc.
First, I’m going to reiterate something: the majority of the human race consists of individuals who are not very smart. This is not meant as an insult, but it’s basically the truth. We may not be talking about idiots, but the average person on the street can not come close to reasoning like A. V. O. Quine. But the main issue I have with these equivalences is that though there is a valid point here, the reality is that it seems to be that the political Right in the USA has taken a bolder anti-science stance than the Left.
And that basically comes down to evolution. If you presuppose that the Left opposes animal research, by and large you will note that the arguments against this are normative. Yes, there are some arguments about the lack of utility and informativeness of this research, but really you are talking about values. In contrast, though some Creationists have made the argument that evolution is about values, you are really talking about a major analytic framework in biology. In fact, evolutionary processes are riddled throughout biological phenomenon. Rejecting evolution is not in the same league as rejecting Newtonian mechanics, but it is rather close.
Not only that, my perusal of the General Social Survey suggests that the gap between liberals and conservatives is likely far greater than between liberals and conservatives on other scientific topics, with the exception of highly politicized ones such as anthropogenic climate change. Unfortunately I haven’t found information on vaccination, but there are some questions about nuclear weapons and genetically modified organism. Compare & contrast.
|Humans developed from animals||69||52||39|
|Humans developed from animals (non-Hispanic white)||77||55||38|
|Humans developed from animals (college educated)||86||66||47|
|Strongly favor nuke power||16||13||12|
|Favor nuke power||49||50||64|
|Oppose nuke power||28||27||16|
|Strongly oppose nuke power||7||9||8|
|Don’t care whether or not food has been genetically modified||15||20||18|
|Willing to eat but would prefer unmodified foods||56||53||55|
|Will not eat genetically modified food||29||27||27|
My own prediction is that on something like vaccination & autism you won’t see a major Left-Right difference. Rather, a small subculture on the Left as taken up this cause, and is rather vocal, but it is not a major group conformity marker like evolution vs. creation. The GMO question illustrates here that there isn’t a strong Left-Right difference either. This doesn’t mean that differences don’t exist. But we need more quantitative, and fewer impressionistic, examples.
Note: In the post below I suggested that sex differences is a major area where the Left is far less reality based than the Right. The proportional gap may be large on these topics, but this is not nearly as significant a scientific issue as evolution.