Conservative distrust of scientists regarding climate change and evolution has been widely expressed in public pronouncements and surveys, contributing to impressions that conservatives are less likely to trust scientists in general. But what about other topics, where some liberals have expressed misgivings too? Nuclear power safety, vaccinations, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are three widely mentioned examples. For this report, five similarly worded survey questions were designed to test the hypothesis that, depending on the issue, liberals are just as likely to reject science as conservatives. The five questions were included along with many unrelated items in telephone surveys of over 1,000 New Hampshire residents.
Author Larry Hamilton reports that, as expected, liberals were most likely and conservatives least likely to say that they trust scientists for information about climate change or evolution. Contrary to the topic-bias hypothesis, however, liberals also were most likely and conservatives least likely to trust scientists for information about vaccines, nuclear power safety, and GMOs.
Regional Issue Brief No. 45
Durham, N.H. : Carsey School of Public Policy, University of New Hampshire
Hamilton, Lawrence C., "Conservative and Liberal Views of Science, Does Trust Depend on Topic?" (2015). The Carsey School of Public Policy at the Scholars' Repository. 252.
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