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Monday
Mar272017

Trust in science vs. reliance on religious faith--another fun GSS item

Any surprises here? (In case you don't remember, relatively religious peope have more "confidence" in "those running" the "science community" than in "those running "organized religion.")

 

Here's the model on which the 2nd figure is based.

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Reader Comments (8)

"Science" might come from "those running" the "science community", but "religious faith" might not come from "those running" "organized religion".

And even with that, the most religious are only at 0.51. How big is that compared to how much more they claim to trust "those running" the "science community"?

So, I think no surprise here. Or, maybe the surprise is - only 0.51?

Also "We trust too much" - who is that "we" directed at? Humanity, the USA, the local community, the royal "we", or the polite accusatory "them" but not "me" (as in "Why can't we write an unambiguous survey question?")? I don't think all responders will understand it the same way.

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Dan -

I have a bit of a problem with your framing here.

You seem to be setting up a contrast between responses to "We trust too much in science and not enough in religious faith." and responses to a ranking of trust in those running scientific institutions and those running organized religion....

...but in doing so, I think you are comparing between unlike objects to some extent.

In the first frame, there is a direct comparison set up, that creates something of a frame of a zero sum comparison: You are being asked to trust one entity relative to the other in such a way as there is a dichotomy in the distribution of trust. In the other comparison, the frame isn't quite as dichotomous.

In other words, I wonder if you would find the same contrast between the two sets of responses, relatively, if the question about comparing scientific and religious communities had been worded more similarly to the question for which you have graphed the data...or as follows:

We trust too much in scientific institutions (or communities, or organizations) and not enough in religious institutions (or communities, or organizations)."

I would suggest that with such a question, you would show greater polarization in association with level of religiosity than the level of polarization that appears if you ask respondents to rank various communities separately on the basis of trust (or at least with the direct comparison a bit less closely linked).

That all said, I tend to be a but dubious about post hoc analysis of polling questions which, while they might lead to plausible conclusions, might (also) reflect a bit of confirmation bias. It is awfully easy, and obviously extremely common, to look at results of polling and then analyze the questions in such a way as to undermine aspects of the results you don't like (for one reason or another)....or to suggest rewording of questions that support counterfactual reasoning about how the results might better reflect what you think they should reflect.

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Hmmm.

I guess I should add...

I would suggest that with such a question, you would show greater polarization in association with level of religiosity [(and in a different direction than your results which show greater "confidence" in scientific organizations among the more religious)] than the level of polarization that appears if you ask respondents to rank various communities separately on the basis of trust (or at least with the direct comparison a bit less closely linked).

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

=={ "Science" might come from "those running" the "science community", but "religious faith" might not come from "those running" "organized religion". }==

Agreed. Comparing those running religious organizations and "faith" is a problematic comparison.

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

Also -

=={ Or, maybe the surprise is - only 0.51? }==

I was a bit surprised by that, and think that maybe part of the reason it isn't higher is that some of those with religious faith might be disinclined to see trust in science as being mutually exclusive with trust in religious faith....even through the question framing pushes them into that binary choice.

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

Agree with all of that.

Also, especially in light of the climatecommunication survey, there's little reason to suspect people will be logically consistent with their answers. That applies even with a survey lacking these misfeatures (ambiguity, engendering common biases, no answer representing a good match to the responder's beliefs, etc.). Homo surveyus is probably as fictional as homo economicus.

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Joshua--I had nothing to do with the wording of the questions. They are GSS items. I'm just doing some simple analyses with them to see if they suggest that conservatism or religiiosity is associated with distrust of science. I also don't mean to be suggesting any contrasts, etc.; just reminding readers that I analyzed the "confidence" item recently.... The responses for religious people seem perfectly consistent-- & not suggestive of "anti-science" orientation at all. Same for conservs. I do think the items are highly questionable, though; they've never been validated in any meaningful way & generally don't correlate w/ one another in manner you'd expect if they were measuring the same thing

March 28, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

=={ @Joshua--I had nothing to do with the wording of the questions. }==

Of course. I didn't mean to suggest that you had.

March 28, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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