Thursday, January 24, 2013

Chris Mooney — The More Republicans Know About Politics, The More They Believe Conspiracy Theories – Dems, on the other hand, are more gullible the less they know

In the mainstream political press, the standard practices of neutrality and balance carry with them an implicit assumption: that Democrats and Republicans are separate but equal in their ideological biases, with each group just as inclined to support its own team and attack the other side. The trouble is, data from psychologists and political scientists suggest that this might be a naive approach. At worst, it may fundamentally misunderstand the nature of American politics.
The latest evidence on this head comes from pollster and political scientist Dan Cassino of Fairleigh Dickinson University. In a national survey, Cassino examined belief in political conspiracy theories on both the left and also the right. He did so by asking Americans about two "liberal" conspiracy beliefs—the 9/11 "Truther" conspiracy, and the idea that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election—and two conservative ones: the "Birther" theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and the claim that he stole the 2012 vote.
The results were hardly symmetrical. First, 75 percent of Republicans, but only 56 percent of Democrats, believed in at least one political conspiracy theory. But even more intriguing was the relationship between one's level of political knowledge and one's conspiratorial political beliefs. Among Democrats and independents, having a higher level of political knowledge was correlated with decreased belief in conspiracies. But precisely the opposite was the case for Republicans, where knowledge actually made the problem worse. For each political knowledge question that they answered correctly, Republicans' belief in at least one conspiracy theory tended to increase by 2 percentage points.
What's up with this? Cassino views these data as just one more indicator of an "asymmetry" in how Democrats and Republicans, or liberals and conservatives, respond to politics—with Republicans tending to be more partisan and tribal (and in this particular case, more willing to believe conspiracies about their political opponents), and Democrats less so. And while Cassino admits that his latest study wouldn't, in and of itself, constitute definitive proof of ideological asymmetry, he thinks it fits into a bigger body of evidence.
Mother Jones
The More Republicans Know About Politics, The More They Believe Conspiracy Theories – Dems, on the other hand, are more gullible the less they know
Chris Mooney

Really? Never would have guessed. But there it is in black and white, folks. The wingnutz really are nutz.

1 comment:

Crake said...

Just a guess but if those findings are accurate, the likely cause is circular logic. Many conservatives are actively religious and religious adherence usually entertains strong circular logic. So everything in their world views has its own explanation - e.g. it is because it is, it isn't because "elites" conspire to make it so, etc.