When questioning media elite about how they give strong voice to anti-science global warming denialism, one of my (and others') favorite analogies has been with those who believe the moon landings were faked in the desert. As per a years-ago letter published in the Washington Post,
This brings to mind the fact that about 15 percent of Americans believe that the Apollo moon missions never occurred and were staged on movie sets in the desert. Would The Post, in reporting on the space program, seek to be fair and balanced by giving this 15 percent a voice equal to that of astronauts, astronomers and academic experts? Why, then, give prominent voice to global-warming deniers, who are similarly at odds with facts?This morning, while reading the (near final editing) draft of another excellent peer-reviewed study from Stephen Lewandowsky, I was struck by how this line of questioning is so close to the truth.
Lewandowsky's paper, just accepted for publication in Psychological Science, is based on a survey of >1000 people active in the blogging world -- both climate science oriented and climate deniers and a range of people in between.
Why that blogger focus?
Although nearly all domain experts agree that human CO2 emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a vocal platform for climate denial, and bloggers have taken a prominent and influential role in questioning climate science.As for what the survey found, the title might just suggest why I'd see a link between the study and my LTE:
NASA faked the moon landing—Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of ScienceFrom the abstract:
Paralleling previous work, we find that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science (~= .80 between latent constructs). Endorsement of the free market also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the CIA killed Martin-Luther King or that NASA faked the moon landing) predicts rejection of climate science as well as the rejection of other scientific findings, above and beyond endorsement of laissez-faire free markets. This provides empirical confirmation of previous suggestions that conspiracist ideation contributes to the rejection of science.Conspiracists are much more likely to reject the standards-based work from scientists and to reject the global scientific consensus as to climate science.
If being a hard-headed Ayn Rand libertarian aligns with being a climate denier and predicts embrace of tin-foil conspiracy theories, what makes one more likely to accept science?
Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.Thanks to Lewandowsky and his colleagues for another excellent piece of work that I look forward to reading in Psychological Science.