Are liberals or conservatives more likely to believe in weird things?

From the leftist Washington Post, of all places. (H/T ECM)

Excerpt:

A belief in astrology is surprisingly widespread in modern America. The National Science Foundation recently released a report reviewing scientific knowledge and attitudes. As noted by Chris Mooney at Mother Jones, perhaps NSF’s most striking finding was an increase in the belief in astrology from 32 percent in 2006 and 35 percent in 2010 to 45 percent in 2012.

At the Demography of Diversity Project at Northwestern University, we took the same astrology data from the General Social Survey that NSF used and broke it down further by political party and liberal-conservative orientation. The results can be found in a brief report that I put up at the Social Science Research Network: “Who Believes That Astrology is Scientific?”

Here are the top 3 groups:

1. Conservative Democrats

In the 2012 General Social Survey, 56.9 percent of conservative Democrats believe that astrology is very or sort of scientific, while only 43.1 percent believe that it is not scientific at all. This support for astrology is the highest among 15 overlapping political groups.

2. Moderate Democrats

The political group that is second most likely to believe in astrology is moderate Democrats. A majority of them — 52.0 percent — think that astrology is at least sort of scientific.

3. Democrats (overall)

Although liberal Democrats are insignificantly less likely than average to believe in astrology (43.5 percent), the difference is not enough to offset the beliefs of moderate and conservative Democrats. Thus, Democrats overall are in the third position, with nearly half (49.1 percent) believing in astrology.

The surprising thing is that no Republicans appear in the top 7 groups.

Pew Research

I blogged a Pew Research survey before.

Excerpt:

Among both evangelical and mainline Protestants, those who attend church weekly express much lower levels of belief in reincarnation, yoga, the existence of spiritual energy in physical things and astrology compared with those who attend religious services less often.

[…]Older people (those over age 65) consistently express lower levels of acceptance of these kinds of beliefs compared with younger people. These beliefs are more common among Democrats and independents than Republicans and are more widely held by liberals and moderates than conservatives.

[…]Evangelical Protestants are the group least likely to say they have felt in touch with a dead person (20%).

[…]Compared with those with a college degree, more Americans with a high school education or less report having felt in touch with a dead person (32% vs. 24%) and having seen a ghost (21% vs. 13%). However, Americans with less education are no more inclined to have consulted a fortuneteller than are Americans with a college education (13% vs. 17%). Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics.

It’s not just Pew, it’s Gallup, too.

Gallup survey

And here is a Wall Street Journal article about the Gallup survey entitled “Look Who’s Irrational Now“.

Excerpt:

“What Americans Really Believe,” a comprehensive new study released by Baylor University yesterday, shows that traditional Christian religion greatly decreases belief in everything from the efficacy of palm readers to the usefulness of astrology. It also shows that the irreligious and the members of more liberal Protestant denominations, far from being resistant to superstition, tend to be much more likely to believe in the paranormal and in pseudoscience than evangelical Christians.

The Gallup Organization, under contract to Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, asked American adults a series of questions to gauge credulity.

[…]The answers were added up to create an index of belief in occult and the paranormal. While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.

And it’s not just spiritual superstition, it’s economics, too.

Zogby survey

And of course, Republicans are more informed on economic issues than Democrats, and even Independents. The Wall Street Journal explains.

Excerpt:

Who is better informed about the policy choices facing the country—liberals, conservatives or libertarians? According to a Zogby International survey that I write about in the May issue of Econ Journal Watch, the answer is unequivocal: The left flunks Econ 101.

Zogby researcher Zeljka Buturovic and I considered the 4,835 respondents’ (all American adults) answers to eight survey questions about basic economics.

The first question was “Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.” The right answer there is agree, because any time you restrict supply while demand is high, you create a shortage, causing prices to go up.

Here are the others:

The other questions were: 1) Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services (unenlightened answer: disagree). 2) Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago (unenlightened answer: disagree). 3) Rent control leads to housing shortages (unenlightened answer: disagree). 4) A company with the largest market share is a monopoly (unenlightened answer: agree). 5) Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited (unenlightened answer: agree). 6) Free trade leads to unemployment (unenlightened answer: agree). 7) Minimum wage laws raise unemployment (unenlightened answer: disagree).

And the results:

How did the six ideological groups do overall? Here they are, best to worst, with an average number of incorrect responses from 0 to 8: Very conservative, 1.30; Libertarian, 1.38; Conservative, 1.67; Moderate, 3.67; Liberal, 4.69; Progressive/very liberal, 5.26.

To be conservative means to understand the world as it is, and how it really works. We don’t believe in superstitious nonsense like astrology and socialism.

6 thoughts on “Are liberals or conservatives more likely to believe in weird things?”

    1. If they confused them that’s bad enough for me to consider them unenlightened.

      Also, Slash Dot is a LIBERAL web site, so I’m not surprised that they would try to spin their way out it. That’s why I posted 3 other surveys to reinforce the point.

      1. As the wife of an amateur astronomer, in an almost-but-not-quite-third-world country, I find many less-educated people think “astrology” and “astronomy” are interchangeable words, or can’t remember which is which. They’re not superstitious, just confused, and they have my sympathy – even knowing the word roots – logos, word, nomos, law, doesn’t help very much with sorting out these terms.

  1. You mean when I read my horoscope (astrology) I am really looking through a telescope at the vastness of creation (astronomy)?

    Just an FYI, I don’t read horoscopes except for entertainment purposes. And I can’t wait to meet that stranger who is going to change my life for the better.

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