What motivates rejection of (climate) science?

August 23, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers from The University of Western Australia have examined what motivates people who are greatly involved in the climate debate to reject scientific evidence.

The study Motivated Rejection of Science, to be published in , was designed to investigate what motivates the rejection of science in visitors to climate blogs who choose to participate in the ongoing public debate about .

More than 1000 visitors to blogs dedicated to discussions of climate science completed a questionnaire that queried people's belief in a number of scientific questions and , including: Princess Diana's death was not an accident; the Apollo moon landings never happened; HIV causes AIDS; and smoking causes lung cancer. The study also considered the interplay of these responses with the acceptance of climate science, free market ideology and the belief that previous have been resolved.

The results showed that those who subscribed to one or more conspiracy theories or who strongly supported a were more likely to reject the findings from climate science as well as other sciences.

The researchers, led by UWA School of Stephan Lewandowsky, found that free-market ideology was an overwhelmingly strong determinant of the rejection of climate science. It also predicted the rejection of the link between tobacco and lung cancer and between HIV and AIDS. Conspiratorial thinking was a lesser but still significant determinant of the rejection of all scientific propositions examined, from climate to .

"Blogs have a huge impact on society and so it's important that we understand the motivations and the reasoning of those who visit blogs to contribute to the discussion. There has been much research pointing to the role of free-market ideology in rejecting , but this is the first time it's been shown that other scientific facts, such as the link between HIV and AIDS, are also subject to ideological rejection," Professor Lewandowsky said.

By contrast, a major determinant of the acceptance of science was the perceived consensus among scientists. The more agreement among scientists, the more people were likely to accept the scientific findings.

"It is important to understand the role of perceived consensus because it highlights how damaging the media's handling of climate issues can be when they create the appearance of a scientific debate where there is none: More than 90 in 100 climate researchers agree on the basic fact that the globe is warming due to human greenhouse gas emissions," Professor Lewandowsky said.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

High moral reasoning associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system

August 22, 2017
Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain's frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task ...

Wealth disparity and family income impact the brain development of female youth

August 22, 2017
Female teenagers living in neighbourhoods with wide salary gaps and a low-income household show changes to their brain maturation that could indicate a higher risk of developing mental illness in adulthood, suggests a recently ...

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience

August 22, 2017
Many people report positive health effects from practicing yoga and meditation, and experience both mental and physical benefits from these practices. However, we still have much to learn about how exactly these practices ...

Brain's self-regulation in teens at risk for obesity

August 22, 2017
In a small study that scanned the brains of teenagers while exposing them to tempting "food cues," researchers report that reduced activity in the brain's "self-regulation" system may be an important early predictor of adult ...

New study rebuts the claim that antidepressants do not work

August 18, 2017
A theory that has gained considerable attention in international media, including Newsweek and the CBS broadcast 60 minutes, suggests that antidepressant drugs such as the SSRIs do not exert any actual antidepressant effect. ...

Should I stay or should I leave? Untangling what goes on when a relationship is being questioned

August 17, 2017
Knowing whether to stay in or leave a romantic relationship is often an agonizing experience and that ambivalence can have negative consequences for health and well-being.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Tausch
not rated yet Sep 20, 2012
what motivates the rejection


Oil? Profit? Both?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.