Conservatives are getting excited about a survey which purports to show that conservatives and libertarians know more about economics than liberals. I do have a problem which tries to break everyone down into such groups considering the wide amount of variation in beliefs in people thrown into such categories. There certainly are people on the far left who have as little understanding of economics as conservatives have of science. In general l I’ve found mainstream liberals do gave a better grasp of economics due to the conservative movement being increasingly dominated by those who think they can bend reality to their ideological wishes.
A major problem with the survey is that it is really it is really a test of agreement with conservative economic theories, written under the assumption that their views are correct regardless of how disastrous application of their views has been in the real world. As Jonathan Chait wrote, “The only thing this study demonstrates is the ideological hackery of its authors.”
Using the same technique, one could “prove” that conservatives know more about science than liberals. Here is a sample test written from such a conservative perspective. To make things simple I’ll make this a true or false test, with all answers true from a conservative perspective on science:
1 ) An intelligent designer is responsible for the development of complex organisms.
2 ) Darwinists believe men descended from monkeys.
3 ) Evolution is just a theory–there is no evidence for it.
4 ) The earth is 6000 years old or less.
5 ) The Grand Canyon was created by Noah’s flood.
6 ) Global warming is a hoax.
7 ) The earth is cooling, not warming.
8 ) Dinosaurs and humans both lived together, like on The Flintstones.
9 ) The earth is the center of the universe.
10) The earth is flat.
Conservatives who answer true to all these questions could claim to understand more about science than liberals who would get these questions “wrong.” This would be as meaningful as their claims of knowing more about economics.