Conservatives have become less likely to trust science over the past 40 years—especially if they're educated, according to a new study. The study looked at the General Social Survey, which began asking Americans how they felt about science in 1974. Back then, conservatives were the biggest believers in science, with 48% reporting a great deal of trust. But by 2010, that had fallen to 35%, LiveScience reports.
Overall, trust in science is fairly low, with no group cracking 50%. Liberals have remained constant at 47%, and independents at 42%. Why have conservatives fallen? Author Gordon Gaulet suspects it's due partially to the increasingly politicized debate around science—with conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation challenging the scientific community—and partially to changes in the conservative movement. "Part of what being a conservative means is looking for alternatives for mainstream ideas and bases of knowledge, and science and the media are those," he observes.