I'm still mulling over this survey suggesting that (as the presenter puts it) "Republicans are more scientifically literate than Democrats or independents are." Yes, that's what it says: across 19 categories, Republicans come across as best informed in 16 categories, Democrats in only two. By contrast, Democrats come across as worst informed in seven categories; Republicans in only two(the balance comes from "Independents," of which more infra). Some of the spreads are pretty narrow, with one notable exception: 57.6 percent of Democrats believe that humans evolved from other animals, only 41.5 percent of Republicans (Dems' worst score was on pesticides: evidently 44.5 percent of Democrats believe that exposure necessarily causes cancer).
But back to those "independents:" they came off as worst of the three contenders in 10 categories; best in only one (continental drift, by only half a point). A number of commentators have remarked on how this just goes to show that independents are the least connected, the least involved, the least, well, informed of any.
Which scratches a particular scab with me. A few months ago, for my sins I found myself getting voire dired by the Palookaville DA to determine my fitness to serve on the jury in a gruesome and high-visibility criminal case. He was having some trouble. "So, you don't count yourself as a liberal, then."--"Not exactly." "But not a conservative?" --"No, not that either." "Well, I guess you are a sort of an independent, then."
What I hope I said then--but I can't exactly remember--was: look, I just don't think it is a very helpful focus of inquiry. I'd concede that my views don't seem to track particularly well on a standard scale. But "independents" very often are the disconnected and the uninvolved. I think of myself as deeply connected and involved. It's just that I don't track very well.
Thing is, I think there are a lot of us--independents who are not disconnected. Maybe not as many as the other kind but among, e.g.,, blog readers and writers, maybe more. Some may be apostate Republicans who remember life before the prescription drug benefit. Some may be apostate Democrats who are revolted at the growing police state, or the metastasis of crony capitalism. Some may--well, they may be a lot of things, but they aren't "independent" in the conventional sense. Like I tried to tell the prosecutor.
Footnote: As you might guess, he struck me. But more interesting to me at least--I've been voire dired a dozen times over the last 20 years, never sat on a jury. Must be those lunches of onions and sour milk I tank up on before submitting to questioning, just like I used to do for Army inspections.
Another footnote: Would I have aced the science test? I doubt it, but I won't go into detail.