Prejudice, like beauty, comes in many forms.
The assumption is that if you hold a particular opinion, it follows that you must hold a particular other opinion. If you don’t, goes the argument, then you must be stupid.
Such logical thought-extension can sometimes pollute science. There are fears that researchers try to find evidence that satisfies their own assumptions.
Some might find it marginally heartening, then, that one researcher, Dan Kahan, admitted to his prejudices being slapped on the behind by actual results.
Writing on the Yale Cultural Cognition Project blog, Kahan described his analysis of research into possible correlations between religious or political beliefs and grasp of science.
When it came to strongly stated religious adherence, his conclusion was that there was a small negative correlation between it and science literacy.
He concluded: “I frankly don’t think that that’s a very big deal. There are plenty of highly religious folks who have a high science comprehension score, and plenty of secular ones who don’t.”
However, his eyebrows were lifted by an examination of scientific knowledge and politics.
He had expected that those with the poorest hold on scientific knowledge would be members of the Tea Party.
It turns out that there is about as strong a correlation between scores on the science comprehension scale and identifying with the Tea Party as there is between scores on the science comprehension scale and Conservrepub.
Except that it has the opposite sign: that is, identifying with the Tea Party correlates positively (r = 0.05, p = 0.05) with scores on the science comprehension measure: