Study: Belief in Free-Market Economics Linked to Distrust of Science
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
People who support free-market economics are more likely to reject proven science, according to a study published in Psychological Science last month.
Examining 1,377 visitors to climate change denial blogs, researchers found that belief in a hands-off approach to economics predicted denial that human activity causes climate change, a fact accepted by 97 percent of scientists. The study’s authors—which include Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia and Klaus Oberauer of the University of Zurich—noted that the anti-science movement is especially prevalent in the United States.
“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,” the study reads.
Many have reported on climate skepticism’s connection to big industry and the American right. Bolstered by prominent conservative think tanks, the climate change denying faction reaches high-ranking lawmakers who support deregulation and block movement toward a sustainable future. Perhaps most notorious is Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned a book calling climate change science The Greatest Hoax. But Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee, represents just the most extreme in a legislative body that doesn’t acknowledge the urgency of our warming planet. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the 112th Congress introduced more than 100 bills related to climate change, but only passed two.
Lewandowsky and his colleagues’ research also found supporters of right-wing economics tend to reject “other established scientific findings, such as the fact that HIV causes AIDs and that smoking causes lung cancer.” Additionally, researchers found a strong link between climate change deniers and conspiracists in general, such as the 9/11 “truthers” movement and those who believe NASA staged the Apollo 11 moon landing.
“This finding suggests that a general propensity to endorse any of a number of conspiracy theories predisposes people to reject entirely unrelated scientific facts,” said the studies’ authors.