Are global warming skeptics simply ignorant about climate science?
Not so, says a forthcoming paper in the journal Advances in Political Psychology by Yale Professor Dan Kahan. He finds that skeptics score about the same (in fact slightly better) on climate science questions.
The study asked 2,000 respondents nine questions about where they thought scientists stand on climate science.
On average, skeptics got about 4.5 questions correct, whereas manmade warming believers got about 4 questions right.
One question, for instance, asked if scientists believe that warming would “increase the risk of skin cancer.” Skeptics were more likely than believers to know that is false.
Skeptics were also more likely to correctly say that if the North Pole icecap melted, global sea levels would not rise. One can test this with a glass of water and an ice cube – the water level will not change after the ice melts. Antarctic ice melting, however, would increase sea levels because much of it rests on land.
Liberals were more likely to correctly answer questions like: “What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures to rise?” The correct answer is carbon dioxide.
The study comes on the heels of a 2012 study that found that global warming skeptics know just as much about science; the new study specifically quizzed people on climate science.
The study will be published on the Advances in Political Psychology website
Kahan, Dan (2015) Expressive Rationality and Cultural Polarization: Theory and Evidence, Advances in Political Psychology, Vol 2,
Kahan, Dan M., Wittlin, Maggie, Peters, Ellen, Slovic, Paul, Ouellette, Lisa Larrimore, Braman, Donald and Mandel, Gregory N., The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change (2011). Cultural Cognition Project Working Paper No. 89. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1871503
Jo Nova also has an analysis here