COVID-19 Skepticism in Relation to Other Forms of Science Skepticism

Scheitle, Christopher P.; Corcoran, Katie E.

Efforts to address the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic have encountered skepticism among the public, but COVID-19 is not the only medical or scientific issue that receives such skepticism. How does COVID-19 skepticism relate to other forms of science skepticism? Using new data from a nationally representative survey of U.S. adults, this study reveals that skepticism toward COVID-19 is similar to patterns of skepticism toward vaccines in general and, more interestingly, skepticism toward climate change. Patterns of skepticism toward evolution and genetically modified foods are more distinct from COVID-19 skepticism. Notably, even after accounting for other forms of science skepticism, political conservatism is significantly associated with greater skepticism toward COVID-19. Finally, contrary to some media narratives, the analysis reveals few racial or ethnic differences in skepticism toward COVID-19, and the differences that do exist indicate less skepticism among Black and Asian individuals relative to White individuals.