In the United States, reporters ought to have the right to protect the identity of confidential sources.
However, the Pew Research Center finds in a new analysis of public opinion on a broad set of science-related topics that the role of party and ideological differences is not uniform. For instance there are notable issues on which racial and generational differences are pronounced, separate and apart from politics.
These techniques parse the independent effect of multiple factors at the same time, allowing us to understand with more clarity where traits such as political party, age and race — three important factors in opinion that overlap in meaningful ways in the United States —individually matter.
Here are the key patterns that emerge in our analysis: Overall, Democrats and liberals are more likely than Republicans and conservatives to say the Earth is warming, human activity is the cause of the change, the problem is serious and there is scientific consensus about the climate changes underway and the threat it poses to the planet.
This report shows that these differences hold even when taking into account the differing characteristics of Democrats and Republicans, such as their different age and racial profiles.
Democrats and leaning Democrats also are more likely to favor policies to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and promote alternative energy sources. Republicans and independents who lean to the GOP are more likely to favor some key energy development policies such as offshore oil drilling, fracking and construction of nuclear power plants.
Another set of topics where consistent differences along party and ideological lines occur are views about government funding of the science and engineering enterprise. Political differences on these topics are consistent with party and ideological differences about government spending more broadly, whether related to science or to other domains.
For example, party and ideology are among several factors that influence public views about human evolution.
Furthermore, there are no differences between the major party and ideology groups on views about the use of animals in research, the safety of eating genetically modified foods and whether to allow access to experimental drug treatments before those treatments have been shown to be safe and effective.
The findings in this analysis are in keeping with past Pew Research and other polls that showed over the past decade that strong political differences among adults affect their views on climate and energy policy topics. This focus on political differences on some science issues may have obscured the also striking influence that other factors apart from politics are tied to public views.
The remainder of the summary of findings examines key factors in public attitudes about science topics. Generational Gaps Often Are Large and Persistent Beyond politics, there are persistent gaps on many science topics tied to generational differences.
Apart from their political preferences, older adults also express more support for nuclear power and offshore oil drilling, and they are more likely to prioritize fossil fuel development over alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.
Older adults are, on average, less likely than younger adults to say humans have evolved over time through natural processes, even after controlling for differences in religious affiliation, politics and education.
On the topic of childhood vaccines, older adults especially those ages 50 and older are more likely than younger adults to see childhood vaccines such as the measles, mumps and rubella MMR vaccine as safe and as something that should be required of all children.
There Are Mixed Findings About Role of Educational Attainment and Knowledge About Science There is a common supposition that when ordinary people have different views from those of experts that the differences center on knowledge gaps: If only people knew more, the argument goes, they would agree with the experts.
The use of animals in research The safety of eating genetically modified foods Opinion about building more nuclear power plants Specifically, the more education people have, the more likely they are to favor the use of animals in scientific research, to consider genetically modified foods as generally safe to eat and to favor building more nuclear power plants.
These are all positions shared by a majority of those connected with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Those with more science knowledge are more likely than those with less knowledge to say eating genetically modified GM foods and eating foods grown with pesticides are safe.
Those with more science knowledge are especially likely to see bioengineered artificial organs for human transplant as an appropriate use of medical advances. This gives readers another way to gauge the relative impact of education and science knowledge, overall.
Some of the largest differences between those with higher education and greater science knowledge, compared with those with less education and science knowledge are views about the safety of eating GM foods and views about the use of animals in scientific research.Public Speaking In American English.
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