Why do conservatives believe in science but distrust scientists? A new study published in Social Forces from Marcus Mann (Assistant Professor in Sociology, Purdue University) and Cyrus Schleifer (Assistant Professor in Sociology, University of Oklahoma), titled “Love the Science, Hate the Scientists: Conservative Identity Protects Belief in Science and Undermines Trust in Scientists,” sheds light on this question by showing that “consistent conservatives” or those that consistently report a conservative identity over time are more likely than inconsistent conservatives to both believe in the benefits of science and to distrust scientists themselves. Mann & Schleifer interpret this seemingly paradoxical finding as indicative of a scientific landscape that is becoming increasingly characterized by conflict between specific cultural authorities – where politically partisan think tanks can contest scientific consensus among academic scientists on scientific terms.
About the author
Marcus Mann is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at Purdue University. He studies the cultural and political differentiation of knowledge authorities and how cultural knowledge is created and transmitted, especially online. He is currently working on several projects related political disinformation and political polarization on social media. For more information see marcusmann.net.