In three separate surveys, the psychologists offered undergraduate students at their schools in both the Deep South and West Coast a chance to view data on three topics: the justness of the world, the efficacy of social safety nets and the benefits of social media. The students were given no advanced knowledge of what the data would tell them. Tullett found that self-professed conservatives were less interested in viewing empirical data than self-identified liberals in all three studies. Moreover, conservatives were more skeptical about the value of science compared with liberals. These differences suggest that conservatives and liberals may differ with respect to the kinds of information they find persuasive in the context of political debate, they declared.
The confounders are too many to count.
Aside from being a non-representative sample, here are the three topics: the justness of the world, the efficacy of social safety nets and the benefits of social media. Those are obviously confirmation bias. Dr. Alexa Tullett, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Alabama, nonetheless tries to make it sound empirical: "“There seem to be epistemological differences between liberals and conservatives. They disagree about the value of scientific evidence, and if you’re relying on different types of evidence, you’re less likely to come to an agreement."
Except the surveys had nothing to do with scientific evidence. Science has a theoretical foundation. Psychology, and especially social psychology, do not. All the surveys showed is that young people who claim to be conservative don't have confidence in science as it is shown on social media and that the world is what you make it. The only thing that would have made for more obvious bias was name-dropping "white privilege."
The authors say empirical data is important and that their results mean conservatives don't trust it, which will make liberal science blogger cheer, but it will show they haven't read the paper. The political issues they picked were too broad and social media beliefs tell the public almost nothing.
Ironically, this paper shows exactly why conservatives don't trust academic psychology - and because liberals know the fix is in when it comes to partisan spin from academia, they have begun to assume that the bias is also evident in vaccines, biology and energy, and no science can be trusted.
The survey results will be published in the Journal of Research and Personality in August.
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