It is often insinuated by major media sources that Republicans are less scientifically literate than Democrats are, primarily because of the former's skepticism over evolution and opposition to taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell research. Jason Malloy dispelled this notion several years ago, but I wanted to present the GSS data on the topic in a more concrete and packaged form.
The following table shows differences in responses to the science module of items deployed by the GSS during 2004 and 2006* by partisan identification. Some of the questions are inverted for viewer ease so that in all cases, the higher the percentage, the more knowledgeable the group is. The gold-silver-bronze color scheme doesn't work too well on a white background, so green indicates the highest level of relative knowledge, black the middling amount, and red the lowest quantity:
|Astrology is not scientific||64.3%||55.7%||75.1%|
|The benefits of science exceed the harms||73.3%||66.2%||78.0%|
|Understands the need for control groups in testing||79.8%||81.4%||82.1%|
|The earth's core is very hot||94.2%||92.6%||94.6%|
|Demonstrates a basic understanding of probability||87.9%||90.0%||91.8%|
|Not all radioactivity is man-made||79.2%||78.5%||85.9%|
|Father, not mother, determines a child's sex||72.0%||74.7%||77.3%|
|Lasers are not made by condensing sound waves||63.4%||70.9%||75.1%|
|Electrons are smaller than atoms||71.4%||71.3%||72.8%|
|Antibiotics do not kill viruses||55.7%||55.4%||65.8%|
|Continental drift has and continues to occur||90.1%||90.6%||87.9%|
|Humans evolved from other animals||57.6%||50.7%||41.5%|
|The earth revolves around the sun||79.2%||73.9%||81.5%|
|It takes the earth one year to rotate around the sun||75.8%||78.8%||78.9%|
|Respondent will eat genetically modified foods||66.1%||69.4%||73.1%|
|The north pole is on a sheet of ice||67.0%||59.7%||63.4%|
|Not all man-made chemicals cause cancer when eaten||46.6%||46.4%||52.6%|
|Exposure to radioactivity doesn't necessarily lead to death||67.5%||67.1%||77.0%|
|Exposure to pesticides doesn't necessarily cause cancer||55.5%||57.9%||66.8%|
The media insinuation is applicable when the issue is evolution, but for the rest of science, there is scant evidence to support the assertion that Republicans are more ignorant than Democrats and independents are. To the contrary, Republicans tend to be better informed.
The table includes all respondents, not just whites, in part because that is how the debate is framed (and so often Republicans would be able to use this to their rhetorical advantage if they were deft enough to) and in part because I'm planning future posts where the same items are considered by race and sex.
* With the exception of the last three questions, which were asked in 1993, 1994, and 2000.
GSS variables used: PARTYID(0-2)(3)(4-6), ASTROSCI, SCIBNFTS, EXPDESGN, ODDS1, HOTCORE, RADIOACT, BOYORGRL, LASERS, ELECTRON, VIRUSES, CONDRIFT, EVOLVED, EARTHSUN, SOLARREV, EATGM, ICESHEET, SCITEST5, GRNTEST1, GRNTEST5