A couple of polls that I've just become aware of have some interesting data on evolution denial as a function of political (and also religious) stance. In the 12 January 2007 issue of Science, there is a letter from Allan Mazur that links to a survey from 2000. Mazur writes:
In Fig. S1 , the percentage of respondents believing in human evolution is plotted simultaneously against political view (conservative, moderate, liberal), education (high school or less, some college, graduate school), and respondent's religious denomination (fundamentalist or not). Belief in evolution rises along with political liberalism, independently of control variables.
The figure mentioned is a pdf apparently freely available - http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/data/315/5809/187a/DC1/1 - I'm not computer-savvy enough to get it to post here. A couple of the things that made me go "hmmm" on the graph were: 1) Of respondents with some college that identified as fundamentalists, 23% of political conservatives and 36% of liberals agreed with the statement "Human beings evolved from earlier species of animals."
2) Of "some college/not fundamentalist" respondents, 40% of conservatives and 82% of liberals agreed with that statement.
Their Table 8 addresses Democrat/Republican as well as lib/con leanings.
Now I fully understand the religion/origins and education correlations. but I'm not sure that I get the politics/origins - particularly as the first poll separates political stance from religious affiliation. Any ideas? ---------------------------- In Social Issues, perhaps?
I fully understand the religion/origins and education correlations. but I'm not sure that I get the politics/origins
Is this not simply a matter of there being a religion/politics correlation, and that those who reject evolution are simply much more likely to be conservative politically? That first poll is only polling "fundamentalists," but what it shows is the correlation between belief in evolution and politics. I'd say we know by observation that most anti-evolutionists are going to be conservative politically, because they are going to consider legislating their moral issues more important than other issues.
It's tax season, I'm arguing with people in another thread, and that darned poll has several variables. My brain just wasn't up to processing light frequencies into actual data. You're right, I completely missed the right side of that graph.
Worse, my brain really is tired, and I had to blink and think several times to process what I was looking at.
I have to wonder what percentage of fundamentalists are actually liberal politically, since the graph doesn't tell us (or maybe it does, and I still can't process it). I also have to wonder what their definition of fundamentalism is, and which denominations they included. It appears liberals are more likely to believe in evolution, and I would have expected that, because I link politics and religion in my mind.
What if that really is the reason, but the distinction here between fundamentalists and non-fundamentalists isn't a good enough distinction. For example, as you pointed out, you don't know too many fundamentalist liberals. I don't either. I think that poll allows the possibility that there really isn't very many. That could skew the data.
For example, if they polled 300 high school to graduate age "fundamental liberals," 143 of which believed in evolution, but they polled 6000 non-fundamental liberals, it's entirely possible that the 143 fundamental liberal evolutionists are just that 2% of liberals who happen to belong to a fundamentalist denomination but don't espouse fundamentalist views. Or the 157 fundamental liberal non-evolutionists are fundamentalists who happen to be liberal, which could be a very small percentage of evolutionists, because the graph doesn't tell us.
In other words, maybe there's a political/origins tie, but maybe it just looks like it, and without knowing polling size of the various groups, it'd be hard to tell.
And maybe I just need to get some rest. Let me know if this sounds like babbling.
Now I fully understand the religion/origins and education correlations. but I'm not sure that I get the politics/origins - particularly as the first poll separates political stance from religious affiliation. Any ideas?
To me the connection between politics and origins makes perfect sense in the context of the "authoritarian personality". People on the right wing are tyically characterized as submitting to and identifying with authority figures and acts of "authority-imposition" (the corrollary being a hatred of and violence towards "outsider" groups). Hence the connection between right wing politics and various authoritarian activities such as militia support, gun ownership, anti-gay activism, pro-war, etc. etc.
It seems to me that this type of personality would be inclined both to submission to a God figure (the ultimate authority), and a hatred of the notion that human beings might simply be animals. The latter is based on the view that animals are somehow low, dirty and have no authority or power over human affairs; and also based on the view that animals are far removed from the authoritarian God and hence despised.
As a side-note, I think it's quite telling that Christianity tells us that man was created in the image of God; that man has dominion over nature (and over women); and that the animals and plants were put here for man's benefit. All of these ideas obviously appeal to the authoritarian personality!
Hence I would view authoritarianism (as a mode of personality) as an overarching bridge between right wing political views and rejection of evolution. These effects would persist with the removal of religious effects, because the underlying cause is the authoritarian personality and the desire to be all-powerful, dominating nature; and you can't dominate nature if you're a part of nature, can you? The religious affiliation is just another symptom of the personality type.
Here's a link on the "authoritarian personality". It's probably an outdated psychoanalytic concept by now, but I still like it. When you read the diagnosis of the personality type, a certain kind of EvC poster springs to mind...
I agree, it could be a sampling issue. It's not immediately clear from the graph, but is there a correlation between religion and politics in the data? They obviously have the data to test such a prediction.