TitleIdeology and scientific credibility: environmental policy in the American Pacific Northwest
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsLach, D, Steel, BS, Satyal, V
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Pagination481 - 495
Date Published2006
ISBN Number0963-6625

In the later years of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, there has been an increasing emphasis among many decision-makers, interest groups, and citizens about the importance of science-based environmental policy. The assumption is that scientists can facilitate the resolution of public environmental decisions by providing scientific information to policymakers and the public, and by becoming more directly involved in policy arenas than they have traditionally been. However, at the same time, there are those who question the value of science, especially for ideological reasons. This study empirically examines the impact of ideology on attitudes toward science, scientific research, and scientists among various environmental policy participants. The data utilized to investigate these orientations were collected from surveys of five different groups involved in environmental policy and management in the Pacific Northwest including ecological scientists at universities and federal agencies; natural resource and environmental managers of state and federal programs; members of interest groups (e.g., environmental groups, industry associations, etc.); the “attentive public” (i.e., citizens who have participated in the environmental policy process); and the general public. Preliminary results reveal significant differences between liberals and conservatives in their orientations toward science, with self-identified liberals generally more likely to see science and scientists as objective and conservatives having a contrary view.