Free Markets, Free People

Climate change skeptics have “the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity”

Shocking I know.  In fact the findings are exactly the opposite of what those doing the study expected to find (via Nature.com):

As respondents’ science-literacy scores increased, concern with climate change decreased (r=−0.05, P=0.05). There was also a negative correlation between numeracy and climate change risk (r=−0.09, P<0.01). The differences were small, but nevertheless inconsistent with SCT, which predicts effects with the opposite signs.

[…]

Contrary to SCT predictions, higher degrees of science literacy and numeracy are associated with a small decrease in the perceived seriousness of climate change risks.

Or to simplify, the difference between the believing herd and thinking individualists. 

Speaking of the herd vs individualists, that takes us to the second claim:

If cultural cognition is merely a heuristic substitute for scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning, reliance on it should be lowest among those individuals whose scientific knowledge and system 2 reasoning capacity are highest. SCT thus implies that as science literacy and numeracy increase, the scepticism over climate change associated with a hierarchical individualistic world-view should lessen and the gap between people with hierarchical individualistic world-views and those with egalitarian communitarian ones should diminish.

Not valid:

Among egalitarian communitarians, science literacy and numeracy (as reflected in the composite scale Science literacy/numeracy) showed a small positive correlation with concern about climate change risks (r=0.08, P=0.03). In contrast, among hierarchical individualists, Science literacy/numeracy is negatively correlated with concern (r=−0.12, P=0.03). Hence, polarization actually becomes larger, not smaller, as science literacy and numeracy increase.

Contrary to SCT’s predictions, highly science-literate and numerate hierarchical individualists are more sceptical, not less, of climate change risks.

These results won’t slow down the alarmists or stop them from calling skeptics scientifically illiterate.  But it will allow skeptics to laugh in their face when they do.

Another in a long line of alarmist myths about AGW put to death by …. science.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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32 Responses to Climate change skeptics have “the highest degrees of science literacy and technical reasoning capacity”

  • Hey, ERP…!?!?  Science happening here…
     
    Heh!

  • Even more humorous when you consider that the side claiming to be the party of “reason and logic” has dismissed reason and logic at the academic level for a couple generations (see: Foucault, Rorty, etc.)

    • This whole Climate Change alarmism is an exercise in “bullying.”
      After they tell kids not to bully each other, they go right ahead and do just the opposite.

    • Oh, man!  How could you be so forgetful?!?!  Why, it was only months ago that our benefactor, Erp, schooled us on how the Frankfurt School was the distillation of the Enlightenment…in pure quintessential dew-drops of rarefied reason.
      Something I, for one, will always remember…  (sniffle)

  • Anarchists attack science — Armed extremists are targeting nuclear and nanotechnology workers.
    A loose coalition of eco-anarchist groups is increasingly launching violent attacks on scientists.
    A group calling itself the Olga Cell of the Informal Anarchist Federation International Revolutionary Front has claimed responsibility for the non-fatal shooting of a nuclear-engineering executive on 7 May in Genoa, Italy. The same group sent a letter bomb to a Swiss pro-nuclear lobby group in 2011; attempted to bomb IBM’s nanotechnology laboratory in Switzerland in 2010; and has ties with a group responsible for at least four bomb attacks on nanotechnology facilities in Mexico. Security authorities say that such eco-anarchist groups are forging stronger links.
    Definitely not the brightest in the bunch

  • There has been a spate of interesting research on the differences between those who tend to be “conservative” and those on the left. One interesting study by the UCLA polysci dept measured media bias objectively, and showed that there was, in fact, media bias favoring the left.

    Other research has shown that conservatives and moderates better understand how leftists think then leftists understand how conservatives think. In fact, the guy who wrote the book moved from being a leftist to being a moderate based upon his research findings.

    We may discover what is wrong with the leftist mind about the same time leftist policies bankrupt the West.

  • I didn’t pay attention to “global warming” until about ten or twelve years ago. It had been around and building for a good long decade already. The first thing I caught on to was that the skeptics had the warmists pinned to mat, even then. Except that no on would listen to them. Their arguments were straightforward and clear. The Warmists were full of “watch my hands” magic tricks. Richard Lindzen was the big gun skeptic and has been for most of the past twenty years. He had a huge reputation at MIT, had a long list of published papers, and he put it all on the line and got called all the usual names. Bob Carter from Australia was another. Anthony Watts, Steve McIntyre, Ross McKittrick have come along in the last several years. Bjorn Longborg, the Dane, got attacked in Europe just for saying that warming was not a priority and that money was better spent on clean water. And I don’t want to forget the late Michael Crichton, the novelist, who wrote the novel State of Fear to describe the level of deception he saw on the issue. He was a Harvard trained M.D., and he also had to pay the price for breaking with the great herd of independent minds. Also, Freeman Dyson, who was accused of old age for not buying that CO2 was either a pollutant or a significant greenhouse gas.

  • Perhaps less shockingly, even though the data was the opposite of what was expected, the core of the hypothesis (climate change is fact, so more scientific knowledge leads to more concern about climate change) was never questioned; instead they tried to come up with psychological explanations for the difference, blaming ‘cultural differences’ and the politization of climate change for the drastic differences in people’s perception depending on what group they belong to.
    Basically, they claimed a need for social acceptance by their peers as the reason scientifically literate conservatives don’t support AGW. Of course, this completely ignores the fact that scientifically literate “Hierarchical individualists” are probably the least concerned about social acceptance (even though this is common knowledge among liberals – for example “the Big Bang Theory”), while socialist liberals (“Egalitarian communitarian”) are inherently concerned about social acceptance.
    Their own data supports my assertion here, as the level os scientific literacy had little effect on the EC groups’ concern about climate change – they were all worried whether they knew anything about science or not; while the level of concern changed drastically in the HI group as they got more informed.

    • Sorry, forgot to check for typos – politicization, level of scientific literacy; probably more.

    • “even though this is common knowledge among liberals – for example “the Big Bang Theory””
      An interesting side point here. Have you noticed on the Big Bang Theory that they regularly mock all sorts of scientific disciplines, even down to the dispute between string theorists and loop quantum gravity proponents (the latter being nonsense of course), and make fun of notable individuals in various fields but… never ever ever go anywhere near climate change “science” which would be so totally suited to insider jokes? I mean, how many jokes about “hide the decline” couldn’t Howard come up with? Or how cutting couldn’t Sheldon be about reading tree-rings??
      But they do slip in climatey stuff in the background. Penny has a bag with something about “carbon footprint” written on it. They sometimes stick up “greeny” posters in the lunchroom, kind of out of place next to the posters for astrophysics and particle physics.
      Funny what the writers won’t go near!

      • Penny rocked a Hillary T-shirt one day.  :)  Which looked good on her.   We should be grateful that big-ears hasn’t written himself into an episode where he pays for Penny’s birth control, hires Wolowitz to do solar research, and saves funding for Cal-Tech that the evil Republicans are trying to cut all while wearing his Obama-man Super Suit.

  • Yeah, by that reasoning you could say that world temperature is negatively correlated with the number of pirates in the world… and therefore we need to bring back the pirates. I don’t know why, of all groups in the world other than Scientology, Libertarians are the ones I hate the most. Maybe it’s because I hate pseudoacademics, and Scientologists and Libertarians have that one thing in common. The CATO Institute is so full of pseudoacademics, probably the only “Institute” in the world with “scholars” and “research fellows” who never finished school…

    • Ummm … well isn’t that special.

      • Incoherent rants filled with vague accusations and non sequiturs are nothing special on the internet.  If anything, they’re ubiquitous.
        Plus, there’s the added bonus of a pseudonym with undocumented credentials (“M.Sc”? Who the hell mentions a Master’s degree as some sort of title to lend them “authority”?)
        I find it amazing how many logical fallacies this guy stuffed into four sentences.
        Your run-of-the-mill Democrat/”liberal” will rant about Republicans as the opposition, impugning them as racistsexisthomophobebigots.  Those of a more dogmatic ideological bent, however, are more bothered by libertarians, because they fear freedom-minded individual action.  Republicans can be herded and talked into “compromise” (i.e., giving in on principle to Democrats).  But libertarians are more apt to stick to principles and resist big government on principle.

        • That’s why I didn’t waste anything but a sarcastic response on him.

          • The pirate correlation was obviously my way to show you the flaws in this blog post. Other than that, what logical fallacies are you talking about Elliot? You don’t think the fact that CATO has research fellows who dropped out of school makes them pseudoacademics? Would you be OK with a real academic research institute having even ONE of those? I know I wouldn’t.
            I do hold an M.Sc., and will soon obtain a Ph.D. and I put it in there just because I was to lazy to say, “by the way this is coming from a guy who knows what he’s talking about.” Now, if you don’t believe me, I couldn’t care less.

          • The pirate correlation was obviously my way to show you the flaws in this blog post.

            I get the reference, though you failed to make the case that it actually has relevance to this blog post.

            Other than that, what logical fallacies are you talking about Elliot?

            Straw man, ad hominem, false equivalence, hasty generalization, red herring, appeal to authority (credentialism), and probably a few others.

            You don’t think the fact that CATO has research fellows who dropped out of school makes them pseudoacademics?

            In case you didn’t notice, you’re the only person who mentioned CATO.  Thus, any discussion of them is a red herring (distraction from the topic of this post) and criticism of them is a straw man (pretense that an alleged fault of CATO is thus a fault of Bruce, the authors of the cited article at nature.com, or comment participants) and a hasty generalization (the false presumption that all libertarians are associated with CATO, and vice versa).
            But to answer your question: no.  Plenty of brilliant, successful people either dropped out of school or didn’t attend college.  I judge their intellectual abilities by the results, not by the paper hanging on the wall.

            I do hold an M.Sc., and will soon obtain a Ph.D. and I put it in there just because I was to lazy to say, ‘by the way this is coming from a guy who knows what he’s talking about.’

            But you demonstrate by your sloppy arguments that your degree doesn’t ensure good arguments.  Your comment is, in fact, a perfect counterargument to the proposition that anyone who holds a graduate degree will make superior arguments.
            I would only have laughed more if you had written, “I teach this stuff.”

            Now, if you don’t believe me, I couldn’t care less.

            You obviously care or you wouldn’t be highlighting your less-than-remarkable achievement as though it had some bearing on the topic of this article, which, again, has nothing to do with CATO.
            You might stop to consider that others here also have graduate degrees in science, which we obtained while you were wetting your diapers, and that we don’t need to wave them about as some sort of shibboleth.
            Also, unless your degree is in statistics, then it likely has nothing to do with the topic of this article and thus it would be inaccurate (or dishonest) to claim you “know what [you're] talking about” here.

  • Granted, I entered this place in a rage over a person I know getting closer and closer to CATO. It does trouble me, so I came here to bash CATO… I do apologize for that.
    Well, as much as the flaws in the study (made by a bunch of lawyers) aren’t the author of this article’s fault, he should have added “among the general public” at the end of the topic, because if the study had taken place inside a climate physics faculty or a petroleum research institute, the results would have been different. The purpose of the study was to correlate the level of general scientific culture (notice the questions are nothing you’ll find on a university exam) with their tendency to be skeptic about climate change, in order to test a (flawed) hypothesis. The purpose of the study is to better understand what makes people doubt the scientific community (or in other words that there’s an evil scientific conspiracy in order to make people believe that climate change is anthropogenic).
    Interpreting Pearson correlations is basic science. They are required in all kinds of data analysis, as is the simple linear regression used in this study. Anyone who doesn’t understand them should not call himself a scientist.
    You say you judge people by their results, how many people with no degrees made a discovery in mathematics or physics, chemistry or found new ways to fight diseases in the last 3 decades? I’m sorry but, the truth is, even though in theory people can learn a lot without formal education, in practice the probability of a self taught person to attain the same level of scientific knowledge as a formally educated person is so infinitesimally small that you might as well consider it to be zero. You will find no reputed research institute that allows a self taught person to join it, much less to conduct research.
    I really don’t care if you believe me, I tell you once, and you are free to believe me or not. If you were a potential employer, then I would care if you believe I know what I’m talking about or not. But in this case, I tell you once, and then it’s up to you.

    • This was actually meant to be a reply to Elliot’s last comment. My mistake, but a “delete” button would do wonders…

    • I will digress again but, funny, the climate research . com website seems to be taken over by Libertarians. “No free lunch”, “less government control”? Why do they have to do this, create websites or seminars, pretending they’re something other than Libertarians. That is very Scientology like…

      • Make that a . org

      • Are you insisting that people who have individualist political viewpoints can only have libertarian websites, only be marginalized as the libertarian, like Jon Stewart bringing in Wyatt Cenac to give the “black perspective”?  They can’t be scientists, journalists, engineers, musicians, lawyers, etc.?  They have to fit your stereotype or they’re “pretending” to be something else?
        Look at the website climate-skeptic.com, written by Warren Meyer.  He makes no secret about his libertarian philosophy and has plenty of links to his other websites (political and business).  Would you insist that he’s “pretending” to be something he isn’t?
        Scientology is science fiction turned into religion.  Now, some might say that the catastrophic AGW alarmists who take scenes from science fiction movies, like “The Day After Tomorrow”, and include them in documentaries, like Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth”, have taken the Hollywood genre of the disaster film and turned it into a dogmatic ideology which resembles a religion, and that anyone who deviates from message is subject to character assassination, or compared to Holocaust deniers, much in the way that certain religions, like Scientology, treat apostates and critics.  But I don’t think it’s useful to draw out such an analogy, as the focus increasingly becomes one of finding common elements rather than addressing the substance of alarmist claims.

    • I will not dispute the weakness of social “science” research.  When I buy a reference book with tables and charts showing the properties of a given material (strength, electrical conductivity, melting point), I know that researchers exhaustively tested and retested the given material in a controlled laboratory numerous times, so I can have confidence that the numbers are accurate.  That’s real science.
      On the other hand, when I read a headline in a newspaper that white males tend to be meaner than other people, then dig down and realize that the headline is an over-simplified, distorted summary of a research study, which turned out to be nothing more than an analysis of about 50 students whom some graduate students tested by some gimmick (telling the students they were wanting to test their concentration, when it was really about social attitudes).  But it was done by “scientists” with degrees, so the journalist who reported it just assumed the facts are unassailable.  Most journalists are rather stupid in the field of science, engineering, math, and all that other “hard stuff” they were too cool to study, so they lack the ability to discriminate between real science and the soft “sciences”.  Or, they just don’t care because the social “science” research yields more chances for sensational headlines.

      The purpose of the study is to better understand what makes people doubt the scientific community (or in other words that there’s an evil scientific conspiracy in order to make people believe that climate change is anthropogenic).

      First, you do a bait and switch, substituting “climate change” (the climate has changed for billions of years and will always change) for “global warming”.  Second, it’s a straw man that all skeptics deny that the global warming since the industrial revolution has any anthropogenic component.
      This is not a black-and-white proposition, where global warming is 100% the result of human industry or 0%.  Certainly, it’s neither, but somewhere in between.  Climate is so complex that determining the anthropogenic influence cannot be calculated, but must be estimated.  Most skeptics I’ve read–who approach the question using science, math, and logic–don’t deny that there are anthropogenic influences, but that the catastrophic AGW predictions are not based upon solid data or calculations.
      But your phrase “doubt the scientific community” is overly simplistic.  The “scientific community” includes people who do real science–isolate independent variables, publish reproducible results–and people who do fluff camouflaged by the trappings of academia.  It includes people with integrity, as well as crackpots and charlatans.  Some fields are more amenable to fluff than others.  The social “sciences” are probably the worst (hence my use of quotes), but climate science is a mixed bag.  Studying hard data (the past) is quite different than writing computer programs to simulate the future.  If you can build in assumptions, tweak the input parameters to get the result you want, and ignore innumerable other variables, and you can convince people to treat it as “settled”, you’ve got the perfect setup for a con job.  When there are government grants and other political pressures, that’s a perfect recipe for rampant abuses.  Even studying historical data, scientists can cherry pick data and use mathematically unsound techniques to “hide the decline”, but that’s not as easy to get away with.

      You say you judge people by their results, how many people with no degrees made a discovery in mathematics or physics, chemistry or found new ways to fight diseases in the last 3 decades?

      I don’t know.  Why are you picking those fields?  What do those have to do with CATO?  And, again, what does CATO have to do with this blog article?
      I know that Steve Jobs and a number of other brilliant, highly successful people dropped out of college.  I also know plenty of people obtained degrees but lack the ability to think and produce anything of substantial value to others.

      I’m sorry but, the truth is, even though in theory people can learn a lot without formal education, in practice the probability of a self taught person to attain the same level of scientific knowledge as a formally educated person is so infinitesimally small that you might as well consider it to be zero.

      You live in a bubble.
      Get out of academia and into the private sector.  Meet some autodidacts.
      A good portion of the useful information and skills I learned while I was in school, I picked up outside the classroom.  Quite a bit of what I had to do to get my formal education was useless and a waste of my time.
      So I call BS on your “infinitesimal” crack.