Some data on education, religiosity, ideology, and science comprehension

Dan Kahan:

Because the “asymmetry thesis” just won’t leave me alone, I decided it would be sort of interesting to see what the relationship was between a “science comprehension” scale I’ve been developing and political outlooks.
The “science comprehension” measure is a composite of 11 items from the National Science Foundation’s “Science Indicators” battery, the standard measure of “science literacy” used in public opinion studies (including comparative ones), plus 10 items from an extended version of the Cognitive Reflection Test, which is normally considered the best measure of the disposition to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (“System 2”) as opposed to intuitive, heuristic processing (“System 1”).
The items scale well together (α= 0.81) and can be understood to measure a disposition that combines substantive science knowledge with a disposition to use critical reasoning skills of the sort necessary to make valid inferences from observation. We used a version of a scale like this–one combining the NSF science literacy battery with numeracy–in our study of how science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization over climate change and nuclear power.