Photo: Nicolle Rager Fuller/National Science Foundation
Quick: what's the connection between climate change and conspiracy theory?
According to a new study published in the upcoming issue of Psychological Science, people who tend to believe in conspiracy theory are also more likely to be climate change deniers:
Believing that climate change isn't happening or that it's not human-caused requires a belief that thousands of climate scientists around the world are lying outright, Lewandowsky and his colleagues wrote in their new paper. Conspiracy theory beliefs are known to come in clusters — someone who thinks NASA faked the moon landing is more likely to accept the theory that 9/11 was an inside job, for example. So Lewandowsky and his colleagues created an online survey and asked eight mostly pro-science blogs and five climate-skeptic blogs to post a link to the survey for their readers. The respondents were self-selecting, but highly motivated to care about climate science, the researchers noted.
The responses came only from the eight pro-science blogs, the researchers reported. Of 1,145 usable survey responses, the researchers found that support for free-market, laissez-faire economics was linked to a rejection of climate change. A tendency to believe other conspiracy theories was also linked to denial of climate change. Finally, climate-change deniers were more likely than others to say that other environmental problems have been solved, indicating a dismissive attitude toward "green" causes.
And as you can expect, the findings of this study sparked its own conspiracy theory. Stephanie Pappas of LiveScience has the story: Link
It's true of all of us to some extent of course, we often dismiss things as irrelevant because we emotionally don't like them . . . the problem is not so much that climate change skeptics ignore the evidence in forming their own views, it's that so many of them seem to have powerful and influential positions. It's vested interest in politics and the media that's the real problem.
Apparently one skeptic site DID post the survey. Roger Pielke Jr received the survey but was skeptical that it could be rigorous. And it looks like the results could easily be gamed by malicious survey respondents.
The other point still stands: if I were to do a research item on "How much sand do Feminists have in their vaginas?," and all the feminist blogs refused to post the survey leaving the only respondents from men's right's blogs... I think it would be clear to anyone that it's a bad idea to go forward with it. I should be aware that animosity between the two groups alone could affect the fraudulent responses when it's only an internet survey.
Part of the whole "skeptic community" issues -- the one who are actually doing published research, not just the 'it's a lie!' people -- is that the referee'd journals are kinda doing a shoddy job, and there's a lot of dreck that gets through which makes good press. This published research is a perfect example.
I don't think I'm actually 'skeptical' or 'denying' of most of the global warming results, anyhow. I certainly think the skeptics make mountains out of molehills in general. But I'm always shocked how the skeptic blogger make salient points abut the corrupted publishing process. I thought I witnessed some nasty publishing fights when I was working on my thesis, but the climate community involves the press and politicians over the same petty stuff.