Ideology is not the dominant factor in shaping what Americans think about most science-related issues, according to a new poll by the Pew Research Center. Although a person’s political views are a strong predictor of their attitudes on climate change and a handful of energy issues, their gender, age, religion, race, or education play a larger role on many other controversial topics.
The Washington, D.C.–based think tank surveyed 2002 U.S. adults last summer on 22 issues ranging from global warming and offshore drilling to the safety of genetically modified (GM) foods, the use of animals in research, and the value of the International Space Station. A previous report based on the same survey found striking differences in what scientists and the public think about many topics, including GM foods and animal research.
The new analysis suggests that an oftrepeated claim that Republicans are “antiscience” is simplistic. “Sometimes politics is at the center of the story,” says Cary Funk, the lead author and associate director for science research at Pew, “and sometimes politics has very little to do with the way people think about science issues."