Belief in free market economics predicts rejection of science

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Jim InhofeA strong belief in a hands off approach to economics is tightly linked to the rejection of scientific facts such as climate change, according to research published in Psychological Science in late March.

“The conspiracist ideation that all of the world’s scientific academies have conspired together to create a hoax known as global warming has found traction in American mainstream politics,” Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia and his colleagues wrote in their study.

In particular, Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma has alleged that thousands of scientists working independently over decades are actually part of “the greatest hoax” to increase regulation on businesses and individuals.

The study of 1,377 people who visited climate change denial blogs found endorsement of laissez-faire free markets predicted the rejection of climate science and other established scientific facts, such as that HIV causes AIDS or that tobacco smoking causes lung cancer.

“The pivotal role of personal ideology in the rejection of climate science has been repeatedly demonstrated,” Lewandowsky and his colleagues explained. “We highlighted the magnitude of this effect among climate-science blog denizens, who have a strong interest in the issue, and we additionally showed that endorsement of the free market also predicted the rejection of two other well-established scientific facts.”

Those who rejected climate change appeared to be more accepting of conspiracy theories in general. Belief that the moon landing was actually staged on Earth, that the government allowed the 9/11 terrorist attacks occur so they could invade the Middle East, and other conspiracy theories predicted rejection of climate change.

“This finding suggests that a general propensity to endorse any of a number of conspiracy theories predisposes people to reject entirely unrelated scientific facts,” Lewandowsky and his colleagues said.

The study was co-authored by Klaus Oberauer and Gilles E. Gignac.

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  • Sceptic

    So what you’re saying is that belief in climate change predicts rejection of good economics!

    • eyebeam

      You could have said it more succinctly: “Herp, derp!”

  • georgehollister

    “The conspiracist ideation that all of the world’s scientific academies have conspired together to create a hoax known as global warming has found traction in American mainstream politics,”

    There is no scientific consensus on the fundamental issues regarding human caused global warming.

    • Adamski

      no consensus because you say so. WOW!

      • georgehollister

        I have been following this subject since it emerged in 1980, and there are many climatologists with nothing to gain in the subject that have raised concerns. Not about whether the earth is warming, but about why and what can really be done about it.

        • http://occupyyourbrain.tumblr.com/ Joshua Francis Whalen

          That’s pretty recent. The science behind climate change was first proposed back in the ’70’s……the 1870’s.

          • georgehollister

            OK?

    • Rhisiart_Gwilym

      So George, these represent “no scientific consensus”, do they?

      http://www.jamespowell.org/PieChart/piechart.html

      http://www.jamespowell.org/

      (Hint: Take a long look at the sheer number of peer-reviewed papers included in these studies. They’re ALL in the global conspiracy, are they? Oh, and could I interest you in some hot, super-profitable shares in this bridge that I’ve just bought in Brooklyn…)

      • georgehollister

        Group think does not mean there is a conspiracy. You might look at the sheer number of climate folks that are skeptics.

        • http://occupyyourbrain.tumblr.com/ Joshua Francis Whalen

          Show me peer-reviewed papers in main stream scientific journals that support that claim, please, or else shut your stoopid mouth.

        • J. Cameron McClain

          “Climate folks that are skeptics” comprise about 1% of the number doing research on AGW. There must be something very compelling about being way, way behind the curve on this science, but I still haven’t figured out what it could be. Delight in being different? I suspect many have religious beliefs that cannot be reconciled with facts as they stand, so they keep denying.

          • georgehollister

            1%? Well the point about religious beliefs is spot on, but whose religion?

    • http://occupyyourbrain.tumblr.com/ Joshua Francis Whalen

      I bet you believe in free markets, too.

      • georgehollister

        Josh, you don’t believe in free markets? Maybe because free markets do not provide solutions to the age old challenges of humanity. But the other options have demonstrated themselves to be worse. BTW, much of what we call free markets today, aren’t.

  • Maat922

    So…what?? Just out of curiosity, who funds Klaus Oberauer and Gilles E. Gignac? This is some extremely sloppy “science”.

  • Donna

    I would have thought that climate change conspiracy theorists and 9/11 conspiracy theorists would have been opposite ends of the political spectrum. I would think 9/11 doubters would be lefties who are assuming a right wing government wanted justification for going to war so set it up.

  • Al Gore

    Climates change. That’s what they do. The climate was changing long before we were here, it is changing now, and it will continue to change long after we are gone. The question is, how much of current climate change is anthropogenic? This is a little vague, along with exactly why there has been such a large increase in co2 over the last decade, and yet apparent warming has moderated. Some of the above is factual and some of the above is yet unknown. Richard Feynman once defined science as “the belief in the ignorance of the experts.” Your article and cited research reminded me of it.