Despite all the doom and gloom in the news today, Glenn found time to share a positive story on radio this morning involving a Yale professor and fascinating new data he has compiled about the TEA Party.

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“This is great news. Remember what everyone has said about the TEA Party,” Glenn asked. “Maybe you’re a conspiracy theorist, or maybe you are somebody who’s crazy, or you’re uneducated, or you’re rude.”

Dan Kahn, a professor of law at Yale Law School, recently released data on the relationship between “science comprehension” and political outlooks. And, much to Kahn’s surprise, the data found a strong correlation between science comprehension and self-identified TEA Party members.

He writes:

But if you do, then maybe you’ll find this interesting. The dataset happened to have an item in it that asked respondents if they considered themselves “part of the Tea Party movement.” Nineteen percent said yes.

It turns out that there is about as strong a correlation between scores on the science comprehension scale and identifying with the Tea Party as there is between scores on the science comprehension scale and Conservrepub.

Except that it has the opposite sign: that is, identifying with the Tea Party correlates positively (r = 0.05, p = 0.05) with scores on the science comprehension measure:


“Wait a minute. This can’t be true,” Glenn joked. “This is Yale. This is the university, not the lock company?”

In his analysis, Kahn openly admits he was surprised by the data:

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.

But then again, I don’t know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party. 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.

“Okay. So just so you know, this is a university professor that is surprised because we’re all [supposed to be ]rubes. We’re all idiots. We’re all stupid,” Glenn said. “We’ve never read a book before in our life and we certainly would much rather look for miracles that have nothing to do with the miracle of science. We just believe that only our magic sky god can do anything. And medicine should all be chased out because it’s witchcraft.”

In theory, Kahn could have chosen to hide his results or manipulate the data to prove a different point, but, instead, he openly admitted that while he was surprised by his results, this is the results his research turned up.

“I think this is great. Dan Kahan will be looking for a job [soon],” Glenn said laughing. “I hope you have tenure, Dan, because Yale’s not going to keep you around, dude. “