Yale Professor: Media Biased Me Against Tea Party, But They’re More Scientifically Literate

“I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.”

Yale Law professor Dan M. Kahan conducted an analysis of the scientific comprehension for various political groups (published by Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project). One particular element of the results was particularly surprising according to the professor: the revelation that Tea Party supporters were slightly more scientifically literate than the non-tea party population. He admitted that years of mainstream media bias had skewed his opinion:

I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.

But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.  All my impressions come from watching cable TV — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the “paper” (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).  

I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.

Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments–all very negative– of what I understand the “Tea Party movement” to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.

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