Climate Change, Scientists and the Impact of Politics


Many people concerned about climate change assume that eventually, the growing weight of facts will persuade those who dismiss humans’ role in the problem to think again. Surely, the theory goes, the plentiful evidence will eventually make any naysayer understand the severity of the situation.

But political ideology has a powerful effect, and new research shows that education and facts don’t prevent climate change deniers from cherry picking evidence to support their own beliefs.

A study published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencesshowed that among the most educated, there’s actually a deep divide in beliefs about controversial scientific issues.

The researchers analyzed public opinions on six topics—stem cell research, the big bang, human evolution, climate change, nanotechnology, and genetically modified foods—based on more than 6,500 responses from the General Social Survey (a national survey conducted once every two years.) Overall, they found that education level was “at best weakly related” to acceptance of the scientific consensus.

They write:

“We found that where religious or political polarization existed, it was greater among individuals with more general education and among individuals with greater scientific knowledge, as measured by both whether they had taken science courses and how they scored on a test of science literacy.”

The study follows several previous studies that show political conservatives are more likely to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change if they have more education.

"Thank you for writing this Scot. A really good article and one I enjoyed reading. ..."

Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No.
"Well that's no surprise- they come in reading the Bible with an agenda in mind, ..."

Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No.
"<< None of the New Testament papyri that the standard Nestle-Aland critical text identifies as ..."

Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No.
"Jeff Miller, Of course if one were to redefine the word "entire" to mean something ..."

Is 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 Authentic? No.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment