For the ever-expanding dictionary/glossary. You can actually get a long way in explaining why some science issues provoke cultural polarization and why others don’t by examining these dynamics.
Affect heuristic. Describes the role that visceral feelings play in the formation of public perceptions of risks and related facts. Such feelings, research suggests, are not a product but rather a source of the costs and benefits individuals attribute to a putative risk source (e.g., nuclear power, GM foods, climate change). Such feelings likewise shape public perceptions of expert opinion, the trustworthiness of regulators, and the efficacy of policy interventions, etc. Psychometrically, all of these perceptions are properly viewed as indicators of a latent pro- or con-attitude, which varies continuously in the general population. The cultural cognition thesis posits that cultural outlooks determine the valence of such feelings, which can be treated as mediating the impact of cultural worldviews on risk perceptions and related facts. [Sources: Slovic et al., Risk Analysis, 24, 311-322 (2004); Peters & Slovic, J. Applied Social Psy., 16, 1427-1453 (1996); Peters, Burraston & Mertz, Risk Analysis, 18, 715-27 (1998); Poortinga & Pidgeon, Risk Analysis, 25, 199-209. Dated added: Jan. 7, 2018.]
Conflict entrepreneurs. Individuals or groups that profit from filling public discourse with antagonistic memes, thereby entangling diverse cultural identities with opposing positions on some science issue. The benefit conflict entrepreneurs derive—greater monetary contributions to the advocacy groups they head, the opportunity to collect speaking fees, remunerative deals for popular books—doesn’t depend on whether their behavior genuinely promotes the cause they purport to be advancing. On the contrary, they profit most in an atmosphere pervaded by cultural recrimination and contempt, one in which democratic convergence on valid science is decidedly unlikely to occur. Their conduct contributes to that state. [Source: Kahan, Scheufele & Jamieson, Oxford Handbook on the Science of Science Communication, Introduction (2017); Kahan, Jamieson et al. J. Risk Res., 20, 1-40 (2017) Cultural Cognition blog, passim. Dated added: Jan. 7, 2018.]