So much for the myth that only the uninformed and ignorant are skeptical of AGW
Powerline’s Steven Hayward brings us the results of a revealing paper by Cultural Cognition Project at Yale University. It attacks one of the popular myths that only dummies reject the “consensus” because they are ignorant of the science. Not so says the CCP:
The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.
Hayward points out that these results validate an earlier finding from the journal Risk Analysis (2008):
By examining the results of a survey on an original and representative sample of Americans, we find that these three forces—informedness, confidence in scientists, and personal efficacy—are related in interesting and unexpected ways, and exert significant influence on risk assessments of global warming and climate change. In particular, more informed respondents both feel less personally responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming. We also find that confidence in scientists has unexpected effects: respondents with high confidence in scientists feel less responsible for global warming, and also show less concern for global warming.
Now one could conclude that it is actually the least informed who buy into the AGW because they’re less likely to seek out explanations to the underlying “science” that supports the theory. Instead they accept it whole cloth and defend it instead of taking a skeptical point of view – a view which science demands. Questioning the theory would also indicate intellectual curiosity instead of the rote acceptance of what is presented.
There’s a bit of irony to had here. Hayward:
Whoa there: The more science you know about climate change, the less likely you are to think it is a crisis? This suggest that all the money environmentalists have spent (I think the Environmental Defense Fund has spent $300 million alone on climate change) has had a negative effect on public opinion, and it offers the ironic possibility that the best thing Al Gore could do to advance his cause is shut up and grow his beard back in a Tibetan monastery.
It makes the case that a) the public isn’t stupid, b) propaganda is still mostly recognized as propaganda and c) the intellectually curious are more likely to be “skeptical” than the less intellectually curious.
Not a particularly flattering portrait of the AGW crowd, is it?
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