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In the comments below a weird fact came to light: it does not seem that liberal/Democrat reduced skepticism toward astrology vs. conservatives/Republicans can be explained just by a secularization, and therefore diminished Christian orthodoxy. There are two reasons for this. First, on a priori grounds most people are religious, liberals and conservatives. The difference between the religious and irreligious on this issue would have to be rather large, and the different apportionment across ideology to be striking, for it to drive the division which seems so robust. Second, within the results it seems rather clear that the gap between liberals and conservatives is most evident amongst the religious of both! In other words, secular liberals and conservatives tend to agree (and be skeptical) in relation to astrology. While religious conservatives are skeptical of astrology, as one would expect from orthodox conservative Christians, religious liberals are not. The table below shows some results.

Astrology is…. Very scientific Sort of scientific Not at all scientific
Protestant Liberal 5 31 64
Conservative 5 18 77
Catholic Liberal 3 35 62
Conservative 6 25 69
No religion Liberal 6 22 72
Conservative 9 31 60
Atheist & agnostic Liberal 7 19 74
Conservative 3 22 75
Believe in higher power Liberal 3 26 71
Conservative 3 31 66
Believe in god sometimes Liberal 1 28 71
Conservative 19 18 63
Believe in god with doubts Liberal 3 29 68
Conservative 3 20 77
Know god exists Liberal 6 35 59
Conservative 6 21 73
Southern Baptist Liberal 11 33 56
Conservative 7 16 77
United Methodist Liberal 4 13 83
Conservative 4 23 73
Episcopal Liberal 4 23 72
Conservative 5 16 80
Bible is Word of God Liberal 8 41 51
Conservative 6 22 72
Bible is Inspired Word of God Liberal 5 28 67
Conservative 5 21 74
Bible is Book of Fables Liberal 3 23 73
Conservative 8 21 71
Humans developed from animals Liberal 4 25 71
Conservative 8 25 67
Humans did not develop from animals Liberal 7 37 56
Conservative 5 16 79

Observe the huge difference between Creationist and fundamentalist liberals and conservatives!

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Astrology, Data Analysis, GSS 
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Someone on twitter was curious about GOP attitudes toward astrology. I left the party breakdown out of the previous post because ideology accounts for most party differences. In other words, conservatives are more skeptical of astrology than liberals, and Republicans more than Democrats, but the second result just seems to emerge from the Republican’s greater conservatism.

Astrology very scientific Astrology somewhat scientific Astrology not scientific
Strong Democrat 6 31 63
Democrat 7 30 63
Lean Democrat 4 28 67
Independent 7 37 57
Lean Republican 3 26 71
Republican 4 21 75
Strong Republican 4 20 76

Why are independents so gullible? It probably has to do with their lower average intelligence (this goes for moderates too). So I simply limited the sample to those with at least bachelor’s degrees to control for intelligence:

Limited to those with college degrees or more
Astrology very scientific Astrology somewhat scientific Astrology not scientific
Strong Democrat 3 21 76
Democrat 4 17 79
Lean Democrat 2 21 78
Independent 4 22 75
Lean Republican 1 9 90
Republican 0 11 88
Strong Republican 1 10 89

The distinctiveness of independents diminishes somewhat, but Democrats with college degrees or more remain more gullible than Republicans with the same (the difference remains if you control for sex by the way).

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Astrology, Data Analysis, GSS 
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Over at Culture of Science Sheril Kirshenbaum posts a figure from the NSF displaying what proportion of those without high school educations and those with college educations accept the scientific status of astrology. It’s pretty clear to me that this is the ASTROSCI variable from the General Social Survey. It asks:

Would you say that astrology is very scientific, sort of scientific, or not at all scientific?

It’s also nice that this question was only asked in the latter half of the 2000s. So it’s timely in terms of demographic breakdowns. Speaking of which, here are a whole host of classes and their attitudes toward astrology’s scientific status:


Very scientific Sort of scientific Not at all scientific
Male 5 26 69
Female 5 30 65
Age 18-34 8 34 58
Age 35-64 4 26 70
Age 65- 4 24 72
White 4 25 72
Black 11 38 51
Hispanic 8 40 51
Extreme liberal 7 31 62
Liberal 5 30 65
Slightly iberal 4 28 68
Moderate 5 34 61
Slightly conservative 5 25 70
Conservative 6 19 75
Extreme conservative 6 18 76
No high school diploma 9 41 50
High school diploma 7 32 62
Junior college 4 28 68
Bachelor 2 17 80
Graduate degree 1 13 85
Atheist and agnostic 6 23 71
Higher power 4 28 68
Believes in god sometimes 7 24 70
Believe in god, but with doubts 4 27 69
Know god exists 6 30 65
Protestant 5 27 68
Catholic 5 31 64
Jewish 6 16 78
No religion 7 28 65
Bible word of god 6 31 64
Bible inspired word of god 5 28 67
Bible book of fables 6 25 70
Human beings developed from animals 6 28 66
Human beings don’t develop from animals 5 26 69

But what about intelligence? To look at that I used the WORDSUM variable, which is a 10-question vocabulary test which has a 0.70 correlation with IQ. Below are the attitudes toward astrology by WORDSUM score (0 = 0 out of 10 score, 10 = 10 out of 10 score):


WORDSUM Very scientific Sort of scientific Not at all scientific
0 13 37 50
1 14 35 51
2 14 47 39
3 8 43 49
4 5 43 52
5 4 31 65
6 7 28 65
7 4 20 76
8 4 18 79
9 1 19 80
10 14 86

It’s pretty straightforward, the more intelligent are more skeptical of astrology. I wanted to display this in a graphical format. So I created an “astrology is scientific score” like so:

Score = % very scientific X 2 + % sort of scientific X 1 + % not at all scientific X 0

In other words, the higher the score for a class, the more accepting that class is of astrology’s scientific status. Here are the results:

There’s a pretty clear relationship between being dumb, and being more susceptible to the idea that astrology is a real science. Why? I think it’s because astrology is an eminently intuitive, plausible, and seductive, concept. Modern astronomy grew out of astrology, which is a cross-cultural enterprise which emerges in distinctive and unrelated civilizations. And why not? Most humans experience awe and wonderment when they see the stars. On first blush the idea that they may have something to do with the fates doesn’t seem ludicrous. The less reflective and dull are possibly less susceptible by modernist conditioning toward skepticism of these intuitive concepts which have been banished to the outer darkness of superstition by science.*

* Organized religion has also played a role in this skepticism. In particular, the Abrahamic religions, which evolved in an environment of competition with late antique ‘astral religion.’ But this is obviously not always t he case. Most forms of Hinduism are steeped in astrology as very much a valid and utilitarian enterprise. And in any case the campaigns by Christianity and Islam against astrology has often been fitful and futile.

(Republished from Discover/GNXP by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Science • Tags: Astrology, GSS, Social Science 
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Razib Khan
About Razib Khan

"I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com"