Maybe It’s Something in the Tea?

The Tea Party is a wholly disruptive force in the Republican Party (a disruption I largely approve, just for the record, even if particular tactics or specific candidates lack prudence or plausibility), and so it is natural that both the media and the GOP establishment will pour out scorn and condescension.  Just as arguments about “process” and “reform” are always cover for saying that you should abandon your principles, agree with me, and therefore let me rule, many of the complaints about the Tea Party take the form of “they must be dumb rubes in flyover country who just don’t understand. . .”

So—heh, in fact double-heh—to find out that a new study from a social scientist at Yale University finds that Tea Party members have higher scientific literacy than the general public.  Clearly this was not what the study was designed to find:

Kahan wrote that not only did the findings surprise him, they embarrassed him.

News flash Prof. Kahan: we’re neither surprised nor embarrassed that you are surprised and embarrassed.  We come to expect this sort of thing from the professoriate.  To continue:

“I’ve got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I’d be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension,” Kahan wrote.

“But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party,” he continued. “All my impressions come from watching cable tv — & I don’t watch Fox News very often — and reading the ‘paper’ (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico). I’m a little embarrassed, but mainly I’m just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.”

Here’s the complete report.  I’m actually a fan of the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, but this finding reveals, as if we needed additional confirmation, who is most in need of greater cultural cognition.