I find it bewildering that such a large number of human beings tend toward a perverse world view, adopting highly unscientific and sadly irrational perspectives on topics that I would not have thought subjects for great emotion. This is, in fact, one of the confounding things about the human race which contributes to the sense of isolation experienced by many geeks. And I suppose that, to an extent, I count myself as one of these obsessive creatures.
In my continuing search for truth, justice and the Rational way, I ran across this article citing the results of a Pew Research Center survey on global warming. The survey included a broad question and several more specific questions; including among these was Does human activity cause global warming? Cynic that I am, I was not surprised to learn that a significantly higher proportion of Republican college graduates answer No to this question than those with the same party affiliation who are not college graduates. And the press has pathetically pounced on this, accepting it at face value, without asking deeper questions about the nature of the survey.
There is something very obvious missing from this discussion, not to mention the survey, in that neither include the subject matter studied by the college graduates. For example, do Democrats constitute a higher proportion of science graduates, while Republicans a higher proportion of business graduates? Is there a tendency among science graduates to conclude that global warming is caused by human behavior? At a more specific level, are the results different, in a statistically meaningful manner, between those who studied biology compared to those who studied archaeology?
The failure to examine this kind of data leaves me with a deep distrust of such survey results. How can one draw a reasonable conclusion without examining the background of respondents thoroughly?