Some data on education, religiosity, ideology, and science comprehension Because the "asymmetry thesis" just won't leave me alone, I decided it would be sort of interesting to see what the relationship was between a "science comprehension" scale I've been developing and political outlooks. The "science comprehension" measure is a composite of 11 items from the National Science Foundation's "Science Indicators" battery, the standard measure of "science literacy" used in public opinion studies (including comparative ones), plus a 10 items from an extended version of the Cognitive Reflection Test, which is normally considered the best measure of the disposition to engage in conscious, effortful information processing ("System 2") as opposed to intuitive, heuristic processing ("System 1"). The items scale well together (α= 0.81) and can be understood to measure a disposition that combines substantive science knowledge with a disposition to use critical reasoning skills of the sort necessary to make valid inferences from observation. We used a version of a scale like this--one combining the NSF science literacy battery with numeracy--in our study of how science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization over climate change and nuclear power. -- In my paper, Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection, I found that the Cogntive Reflection Test did not meaningfully correlate with left-right political outlooks. In this dataset, I found that there is a small correlation (r = -0.05, p = 0.03) between the science comprehension measure and a left-right political outlook measure, Conservrepub, which aggregates liberal-conservative ideology and party self-identification. The sign of the correlation indicates that science comprehension decreases as political outlooks move in the rightward direction--i.e., the more "liberal" and "Democrat," the more science comprehending. Do you think this helps explain conflicts over climate change or other forms of decision-relevant science? I don't. But if you do, then maybe you'll find this interesting. The dataset happened to have an item in it that asked respondents if they considered themselves "part of the Tea Party movement." Nineteen percent said yes. 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: Again, the relationship is trivially small, and can't possibly be contributing in any way to the ferocious conflicts over decision-relevant science that we are experiencing. 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. That's not at ALL what the media and the left (really, is there any difference?) have been telling us, is it?