Conservative elites are conflicted on evolution, liberals are not

On one of my other weblogs I point out how anti-evolutionary sentiment seems particularly contingent on two variables:

1) Literalism about the Bible (a rough measure of “fundamentalism”).

2) Lack of educational socialization (i.e., not going to college and learning Truth).

One of points that cropped up though was that political ideology is highly predictive of anti-evolutionary opinions because of the strong correlation between Biblical literalism & conservatism. This is no great surprise, the modern conservative movement with the emergence of the New Right in the 1970s and the influx of southern evangelical Protestants is strongly inflected with fundamentalist Christianity. In contrast, the modern Left has become progressively more secular during the same period. But when it comes to opinions around Creationism there is an asymmetry: conservative elites are split down the middle, while liberal elites have come to a consensus that the theory of evolution is accepted science. Below I’ve broken it down by party and ideology, and italicized cases where the columns don’t exhibit any overlap on the 95% confidence intervals. I limited the sample in two ways:

1) Those who claimed advanced degrees (something beyond a bachelor’s degree).

2) Those who scored 9 or 10 on the WORDSUM vocab test, which was only 13.2% of the GSS sample.


Advanced Degrees




Human Beings Developed From Animals


Democrats Republicans
TRUE 82.1 50
FALSE 17.9 50




Liberals Conservatives
TRUE 90.9 49.8
FALSE 9.1 50.2




Democrats Republicans
God Created Man 10.8 32
Man Has Evolved, But God Guided 46.8 56.4
Man Has Evolved 37.5 7



WORDSUM 9, 10




Human Beings Developed From Animals


Democrats Republicans
TRUE 89 56.3
FALSE 11 43.7




Liberals Conservatives
TRUE 92.3 48.8
FALSE 7.7 51.2




Democrats Republicans
God Created Man 12.6 35.4
Man Has Evolved, But God Guided 31.8 11.7
Man Has Evolved 49.7 47.6

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