Liberals Finally Cleared of Anti-Vaccine Madness

The belief that vaccines cause autism turns out to be pretty non-ideological.

| Tue Jan. 28, 2014 6:35 PM EST

Are liberals just as prone to deny science as conservatives? The main exhibits against conservatives are evolution and climate change. The main exhibits against liberals are vaccines and GMO foods. But via Paul Waldman, we finally have some fairly strong evidence about the ideological leanings of people who believe vaccines are linked to autism:

Yes, there may be a parent at your kid's organic vegan locally sourced small-batch co-op nursery school who thinks it's true, and dangerous lunatic Jenny McCarthy, the nation's most prominent propagator of this theory, is a Hollywood celebrity and many Hollywood celebrities are liberals, but that doesn't mean that liberals in general are more likely to believe in the fictional vaccine-autism link.

So here is some empirical data, from Dan Kahan of Yale Law School and the Cultural Cognition Project. Kahan did a study that included a survey and some experiments testing both what people believe about the topic and how they react to different kinds of information about it. And it turns out that not only do very few people believe that childhood vaccines pose a danger, liberals are no more likely to believe that than conservatives; in fact, they're slightly less likely to believe it. Here's the key graph, which shows how much risk people of different ideologies associate with a variety of things like legalizing marijuana, gun ownership, and global warming. The black line is vaccines.

I guess we can now check that one off the list. That pretty much leaves anti-GMO sentiment on the bill of particulars against liberals and science, and I will leave you all to fight that one out in comments. I can't really take a strong side on this since I have mixed feelings.