Scientific Literacy Leads to More Politically Polarized Opinions on Climate Change

Guest post by David Middleton

Individuals with greater science literacy and education have more polarized beliefs on controversial science topics

  1. Caitlin Drummonda,1 and
  2. Baruch Fischhoffb,c
  1. Edited by Roger E. Kasperson, Clark University, Worcester, MA, and approved July 19, 2017 (received for review March 23, 2017)


Public opinion toward some science and technology issues is polarized along religious and political lines. We investigate whether people with more education and greater science knowledge tend to express beliefs that are more (or less) polarized. Using data from the nationally representative General Social Survey, we find that more knowledgeable individuals are more likely to express beliefs consistent with their religious or political identities for issues that have become polarized along those lines (e.g., stem cell research, human evolution), but not for issues that are controversial on other grounds (e.g., genetically modified foods). These patterns suggest that scientific knowledge may facilitate defending positions motivated by nonscientific concerns.


Although Americans generally hold science in high regard and respect its findings, for some contested issues, such as the existence of anthropogenic climate change, public opinion is polarized along religious and political lines. We ask whether individuals with more general education and greater science knowledge, measured in terms of science education and science literacy, display more (or less) polarized beliefs on several such issues. We report secondary analyses of a nationally representative dataset (the General Social Survey), examining the predictors of beliefs regarding six potentially controversial issues. We find that beliefs are correlated with both political and religious identity for stem cell research, the Big Bang, and human evolution, and with political identity alone on climate change. Individuals with greater education, science education, and science literacy display more polarized beliefs on these issues. We find little evidence of political or religious polarization regarding nanotechnology and genetically modified foods. On all six topics, people who trust the scientific enterprise more are also more likely to accept its findings. We discuss the causal mechanisms that might underlie the correlation between education and identity-based polarization.

Unfortunately, the paper is behind the PNAS paywall.

This fits in very nicely with Eric Worrall’s “NYT: We Should Trust Climate Scientists Because The Eclipse” post.  According to the scientifically illiterate Justin Gillis, we should trust the predictions of climate scientists because real scientists can predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon with amazing precision an accuracy.  Well, no.  Mr. Gillis’ notion is moronic.  Eclipses have no associated political controversies… outside the minds of liberal law professors and Vox.

According to this study, “individuals with greater education, science education, and science literacy display more polarized beliefs on” politically or religiously controversial issues.  Views on stem cell research, evolution and the Big Bang diverged along political and religious lines, with scientific literacy increasing the divergence.  Views on climate change diverged solely on political lines, diverging more with greater scientific literacy.  Views on GMO foods and nanotechnology did not diverge on political or religious lines.

This makes perfect sense.  There are no religious or political reasons to oppose GMO foods or nanotechnology.

ARS Technica’s article about this paper displayed the standard liberal smugness, but included some useful information.


When it comes to controversial science, a little knowledge is a problem

For those on the wrong side of an ideological divide, scientific knowledge hurts.

JOHN TIMMER – 8/22/2017, 12:50 PM

For a lot of scientific topics, there’s a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows. For a number of these topics—climate change and evolution are prominent examples—this divide develops along cultural lines, typically religious or political identity.

It would be reassuring to think that the gap is simply a matter of a lack of information. Get the people with doubts about science up to speed, and they’d see things the way that scientists do. Reassuring, but wrong. A variety of studies have indicated that the public’s doubts about most scientific topics have nothing to do with how much they understand that topic. And a new study out this week joins a number of earlier ones in indicating that scientific knowledge makes it easier for those who are culturally inclined to reject a scientific consensus.


We’ll do the good news first: there’s no sign of cultural polarization on GMOs or nanotechnology. The former is a bit of a surprise given the widespread public mistrust of this biotechnology (and the frequent claim that the problem arises from a bunch of lefty granola eaters). It would also be easy to envision religious opposition on these topics, given that both involve “playing God” in the sense that humans are creating things that don’t commonly occur naturally.

But that’s about where the good news ends. Drummond and Fishchoff found strong polarization on most of the other topics.

In terms of stem cell research, evolution, and the Big Bang, those with a stronger general education showed greater political polarization, with conservatives more likely to reject them. For those with a strong science education, those topics were also polarized, as was climate change. In a bit of good news, high levels of scientific literacy removed the Big Bang from that list. Put differently, stem cell research and evolution were consistently polarized along political lines. As scientific literacy went up, climate change became politicized, too, but people were more likely to accept the evidence for the Big Bang.

Partly overlapping effects were seen when religious fundamentalism was considered, the exception being climate change, where opinion wasn’t polarized along religious lines. Stem cell research, the Big Bang, and human evolution were, however.

Education vs. science

Overall, Drummond and Fishchoff found that education doesn’t make much of a difference when it comes to accepting science. “Participants’ general educational attainment and science education were at best weakly related to their acceptance of the scientific consensus,” they conclude. Scientific literacy helped a bit overall, as “those with higher scientific literacy scores were more likely to agree with the scientific consensus on three issues: the Big Bang, human evolution, and nanotechnology.”

But that was largely due to the large effect it had among political and religious liberals. In other ways, it hurt, as those with a strong science education or who demonstrated scientific literacy showed higher polarization when it came to stem cells, evolution, and the climate, primarily because conservatives become less likely to accept the scientific consensus.

Ultimately, the thing that matters most is trust. “On all six topics,” the authors write, “people who trust the scientific enterprise more are also more likely to accept its findings.” The politicization of scientific issues may, in part, be the result of a long-term decline in trust in the scientific enterprise among conservatives.


ARS Technica

The ARS Technica article includes a graph from the paper:

“As scientific literacy goes up to the right, conservatives are equally likely to know what scientists have concluded and less likely to believe that themselves.”

Firstly, this does not demonstrate “a big gap between what scientists understand and what the public thinks it knows.”  The two panels in the graph comprise a non sequitur to that “big gap.”  The first panel has nothing to do with the supposed scientific consensus on climate change (Humans are responsible for more than half of the warming since 1950).  This is as bad as Doran & Kendall Zimmerman in its flawed logical reasoning.  Accepting the assertion that humans are primarily responsible for climate change does not follow from knowing that carbon dioxide is a so-called greenhouse gas.

As a professional geologist, I know the answer to the first question is “carbon dioxide” and the answer to the second question is “mostly because of natural patterns in the Earth’s environment.”  There is no logical requirement for the first answer to lead to “mostly because of human activity such as burning fossil fuels.”

Oddly enough, Doran & Kendall Zimmerman found that a majority of academic & government economic geologists agree with me (they only surveyed academic & government scientists.”

It should come as little surprise that geoscientists have consistently been far more likely to think that modern climate changes have been driven by overwhelmingly natural processes.  A survey of APEGA, the organization responsible for certifying and licensing professional geoscientists and engineers in Alberta, found that 64% of geoscientists rejected the so-called consensus for various reasons, with climate change being overwhelmingly natural leading the pack.

This study is very interesting because it analyzes the frames of reference (Kuhn’s “different worlds”) in which opinions are formed. Skeptical geologists are most likely to view climate change as overwhelmingly natural. Skeptical engineers are more likely to view it as a matter of economics or fatalism. The cost of decarbonization would far outweigh any benefits and/or would have no measurable effect on climate change.

None of which is ideologically driven, unless there are some unseen forces that drive conservatives into geology and/or engineering… Or something about geology and engineering that drives the practitioners towards conservatism and/or libertarianism.   I know that having real jobs, paying beaucoup taxes and having to cut through government red tape, just to do our jobs, certainly could be a motivating factor… The AAPG doesn’t conduct political surveys of its membership, but one company, Seismic Micro-Technology (SMT), did conduct an unscientific survey during the 2008 AAPG convention and found that, “geoscientists are a politically diverse group of people, with no disproportionate representation for any political party.”  They also found that 47% of respondents agreed “that human factors are primarily driving global warming.”  36% disagreed and 17% were undecided or unsure.  So, the AAPG members who visited SMT’s booth and took the survey probably skewed to the left a bit and SMT’s reporting of the survey seems a bit biased as well:

A minority (37%) of all respondents disagree that human factors are primarily

driving global warming – but political affiliation polarizes opinion

  • 57% of conservatives reject the consensus view, versus 27% of liberals.
  • Independents align with liberals – with only 30% rejecting the consensus view.
  • Political views are more telling here than age, as both Under 45 and Over 45 show pluralities believing in human causes.

A minority, 46%, agreed with the consensus.  54% did not agree with the consensus.  37% disagreed and 17% were unsure.

Putting the AGI, AAPG, APEGA surveys together reveals the following:


Climate change primarily driven by human activities
Reject Unsure Endorse
Doran & Kendall-Zimmerman AGI 53% 0% 47%
Lefsfrud & Meyer APEGA 40% 33% 27%
Seismic Micro-Technology AAPG 37% 17% 46%
Average 43% 17% 40%
Standard Deviation 9% 17% 11%
  • Reject so-called consensus 43% (±9%)
  • Unsure 17% (±17%)
  • Endorse so-called consensus 40% (±11%)

All three of these surveys were conducted in or around 2008.  Lefsfrud & Meyer was a 2013 reanalysis of a 2008 survey.

While ideology certainly appears to be a factor in scientifically literate disagreement with the so-called consensus, geoscientists clearly fall short of 97% in their endorsement of it.

Yet, Dr. Timmer (a molecular biologist and flaming liberal Democrat) dismisses scientifically literate rejection of the so called consensus with quips like, “a little knowledge is a problem” and “for those on the wrong side of an ideological divide, scientific knowledge hurts.”  It appears that he would prefer a scientifically illiterate society in which we would all just bow down to “science” and do what we’re told to do.


If scientifically literate conclusions regarding the causes of climate change are primarily driven by political ideology… The climate science is settled: It’s not science.


[1] Doran, Peter T.; Maggie Kendall Zimmerman (January 20, 2009). “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change” (PDF). EOS. 90 (3): 22–23.

[2] Drummond, Caitlin  and Baruch Fischhoff

Individuals with greater science literacy and education have more polarized beliefs on controversial science topics. PNAS 2017 ; published ahead of print August 21, 2017, doi:10.1073/pnas.1704882114

[3] Lefsrud, L. M.; Meyer, R. E. (2012). “Science or Science Fiction? Professionals’ Discursive Construction of Climate Change”. Organization Studies. 33 (11): 1477. doi:10.1177/0170840612463317

[4] SMT.  AAPG Geoscientist Survey Results Political Views of Geologists and Geophysicists.   © 2008 Seismic Micro-Technology

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August 23, 2017 7:25 am

“Scientific Literacy Leads to More Politically Polarized Opinions on Climate Change”
I always said Chris Mooney, Naomi Oreskes and John Cook have done more to reduce the public’s scientific literacy polarization than we give them credit for.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 23, 2017 4:14 pm

Damn, I used to hate my educational deficiencies, now I wallow in them. I can ask the daftest questions, and be patronised. But at least I get to ask daft questions.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 24, 2017 3:11 am

Brad Keyes,
I’m sure you know it, but your wit is outstanding. Please continue.

Reply to  Hugs
August 24, 2017 3:21 am

“your wit is outstanding”
You’re too kind.
But I’m not just a satirist—I’ve been known to attempt ‘serious’ commentary too.
I think it was the great Tom Fuller who once bestowed on me the job description ‘half-lit-crit, half-wit.’

August 23, 2017 7:27 am

The primary failure is not one of scientific literacy, but one of logic. People don’t seem to understand what evidence looks like. Evidence that the climate is changing is not evidence that people are changing the climate. Evidence that climate is changing is not evidence that the climate is behaving unusually. Evidence that the climate is changing is not evidence that a changing climate is bad.
And none of this is evidence that humans can and should try to stop it instead of trying to cope with it.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 7:33 am

B-b-but David, didncha know? In the Nu Epistemology, the cart of confidence PRECEDES the equine of evidence.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 8:15 am

Maybe it’s because scientific literacy drives people to conservatism……
“The politicization of scientific issues may, in part, be the result of a long-term decline in trust in the scientific enterprise among conservatives.”
The politicization of science just might be making more people conservative……..
“primarily because conservatives become less likely to accept the scientific consensus.”
People less likely to accept the liberal brainwashing…are more likely to become conservative……..

Richard G.
Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 10:06 am

David, you write ‘As a professional geologist, I know the answer to the first question is “carbon dioxide”’
This Climate Science Literacy question is a classic case of a leading question fishing for the desired answer. A classic trick question that bedevil multiple choice exam questions.
The correct answer is ‘none of the above’. H2O vapor is the correct answer that is not available to be selected.
Push polling at it’s worst.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 8:41 pm

not a bad hypothesis.
As a matter of principle I try to be coy about my politics, but let’s just say, hypothetically, that if I ceased voting for [my country’s equivalent of] liberal candidates, my rightward swing would have been due to my disgust at the Left’s meretricious embrace of pseudoscience—*NOT* the other way round, as the Kahan et al. ‘motivated social cognition’ model would predict.

Reply to  tim maguire
August 23, 2017 8:34 am

But the evidence shows that climate is changing rapidly (in climate terms) in a particular direction, in excess of natural cycles, with the only likely driver being CO2, produced by humans. A rapid change to a warmer climate cannot avoid producing weather and climate effects which will burden human society.
The evidence is there: surface temp and RSS data sets, arctic sea ice extent and volume. The sun is in a period of lower activity; CO2 continues to climb.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 10:10 am

Griff, please tell me how an increase in CO2 from 0.038% to 0.04% of which 30% (0.0006%) is produced by man? In addition when the Sun is in a period of low activity more alpha and beta particles enter the atmosphere seeding more clouds, reflecting the Sun’s IR radiation back into space and cooling the planet, The Maunder and Dalton minima proved that and exactly the same scenario is unfolding again.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 10:33 am

“climate cannot avoid producing weather and climate effects”
…so far it has numbnuts….when is it supposed to start?

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 10:55 am

“The only likely driver”? Why? It may be the one we are being pushed to believe, but there’s really very little evidence backing it. There’s correlation, but not causality. Views that oppose this CO2 hypothesis are ridiculed, so of course many people “agree” the CO2 theory is the “right” one—who wants to be ridiculed, called names, etc? If the presence of substance X was politically pushed as the “right” answer, I suspect people would agree.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 11:26 am

The evidence shows nothing of the sort about “climate”. Temperature records, for what good they are. show that the temperature increase from 1910-45 (minimal CO2 emissions) has an almost identical slope to that from 1975-2000 (vastly increased and increasing CO2 emissions). No evidence that CO2 is a “driver” of anything, much less the much more complicated “climate”. Your second sentence is complete speculative nonsense.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 11:32 am

Wrong. Model outputs are not evidence. Averaging min and max temperatures does not produce environmentally relevant results from which to make policy decisions. Making up unsupported “estimates” of unknown and unknowable error ranges to make your graphs look meaningful is not evidence. Droning on about “consensus” is not evidence or science, it is politics, pure and simple. I could go on, but you are either too thick headed to get it, or you have a financial incentive to not understand it.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 11:40 am

Griff- Please define these natural cycles we are in violation of. The past glaciation? The MWP? The RWP? You are just chanting from your religious text. A parrot that can type.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 2:57 pm

No! The evidence shows that the climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which Mankind has no control. There is no real evidence that CO2 has any effect on climate and plenty of sceintific rational to support the idea that the climate sensivity of CO2 is really zero.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 5:20 pm

Here are the most recent estimates of the climate sensitivity – for Griff’s benefit the temperature increase for a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration.comment image
Now, assuming the estimates continue to decrease at the current rate, consider the effects of projecting the ECS and TCR linear trends out to 2025 – 2030 or thereabouts…

richard verney
Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 6:55 pm

But the evidence shows that climate is changing rapidly (in climate terms) in a particular direction, in excess of natural cycles,

What a pity, you did not take time to read and understand the excellent comment by tim maguire (August 23, 2017 at 7:27 am) before firing off from the hip.
First of all there is no evidence that climate is changing. There is some evidence that temperature is changing, but temperature is merely one of a number of variables that go to make up climate, and these variables are almost always in flux.
Second, the so called rapid change, is no different to the rate of temperature change between 1860 and 1880, and is no different to the rate of temperature change between 1920 and 1940 as the eminent Phil Jones confirmed when interviewed by the BBC. The IPCC rightly accepts that the warming episodes between 1860 and 1880, and 1920 to 1940 are natural and not caused by manmade CO2 emissions.
Third, it appears that during the course of the last 19 years notwithstanding BAU CO2 emissions there has been a slow down in the rate of temperature change.
Fourth, the loss of Arctic sea ice will be a good thing. it will not add to sea level rise, it will reduce shipping times and cost, it will enable us to drill and exploit resources in the Arctic for the benefit of human society, and it will act as a negative feedback cooling the planet by allowing oceans to radiate energy to space (although, personally I am not in favour of anything that cools the planet below Holocene Optimum Temperatures)
Fifth, there is no evidence that change is burdening human society. To the contrary, all the change from the LIA to date has been a net positive and has enabled the planet to feed an ever growing population.
Against this background, it is impossible to prove that the climate is changing rapidly in excess of natural cycles. The scientific principle, namely, the null hypothesis that all change is of natural origin still stands good and strong.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 8:47 pm

“You find what you shine a light on…”
Your mention of “unknown unknowns” reminds me of the tasty irony that Donald Rumsfeld, a plain-speaking politician, will go down as an infinitely more sophisiticated epistemologist than all the Oreskes (or Oreskeses) of the world and their epigones (or epigoneses) combined.

August 23, 2017 7:30 am

But how do they determine ones “scientific literacy” before they start with the survey? Is there some test
given first?

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 7:45 am

“Unfortunately, the paper is behind the PNAS paywall.”
Don’t be such an ingrate, David. It’s for your protection. For the protection of all of us.
The authors know, perhaps better than anyone, just how polarizing it would be for us to understand this cr@p.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 2:26 pm

“All funds, regardless of their source, are accepted by the academies with very stringent conditions to ensure that the acceptance of any funds does not influence the objectivity, scope, method of study, or membership of a study group.”
Oh…that is funny! Do you think that anyone at the National Academies of Science actually believes that? Is it possible that they have convinced themselves that the 85% of their funding coming from the Federal government is having no influence on their work? Could they be that naive? OR is it more likely that they know damn well what is going on and they put that sentence in there to intentionally delude the public?

Phil R
Reply to  David Middleton
August 24, 2017 8:22 am

The authors are social and political (non)science and public policy people. They’re not scientists. That’s how you determine your conclusion before you start the survey.

August 23, 2017 7:30 am

The great illiteracy-monger depolarizer Chris Mooney took little time deducing the corollary, way back in 2011:

This is bad, bad news for anyone who thinks that better math and science education will help us solve our problems on climate change.

…and the believalist movement has been working tirelessly to stultify, dumb-down and miseducate reconcile, disarm and depolarize both “sides” in these tragic, senseless Climate Wars ever since.
Let’s take a moment every day to be thankful.

DD More
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 23, 2017 9:05 am

And a new study out this week joins a number of earlier ones in indicating that scientific knowledge makes it easier for those who are culturally inclined to reject a scientific consensus.
Thus proving all of Abe’s quote was correct. – You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” Abraham Lincoln
Read more at:
So we are Just Not ‘Some’ of Those People.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 23, 2017 11:48 am

Maximal effort to twist people’s arms into “believing”. Minimal effort to address the verification crisis in science. Many replication meta studies show that half or more of scientific studies can’t be replicated and are scientifically invalid- this is AFTER peer review and publication.
In climate “science” many are actually not even wrong- just irrelevant and yet twisted into doom mongering. They don’t really wonder why there is doubt. These are the people who are entrenched in this self serving swamp of pseudo intellectual back slappers.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 23, 2017 4:24 pm

The “education” strategy typically relies on this:
the story of where facts come from. no, not the stork!
they provide some discussion about science – authentic, orthodox science: observations, development of hypotheses, and testing of disprovable hypotheses.
then, add in this part: “when a hypothesis get really, really really really well known, I mean really, really really really REALLY well known, by scientists, those scientists officially deem the hypothesis to be a “fact.”
therefore, we should all head out and go find out what the scientists really really really really believe, and we should accept their belief.
Notice that there is nothing other than the wisdom of crowds that is a methodological assurance that the hypothesis has finally grown up and become a fact.
Also notice that, nowhere in this process, is any of us allowed to be skeptical of the consensus.

Reply to  TheLastDemocrat
August 23, 2017 9:03 pm

yes, that’s a great précis of their strategy.
Note that it only requires knowing The First Thing About How Science Works to know how morally and intellectually gangrenous the whole consensualist project is:
In science, *what someone thinks* is not, and may NEVER be used as, evidence of anything. (Other than of what’s going on inside their skull.)
This perfect, septic (or skeptic) wall which keeps *opinion* and *evidence* separate is as fundamental to science as the separation of human excrement from drinking water is to modern civilization.
It’s Rule One of Science Club, and as soon as Oreskes reared her distractingly-sexy head and violated it, that was all I needed to see. I knew immediately, to a certainty, that we were witnessing the birth of a pseudoscience movement. It’s a pity nobody did the merciful thing by strangling it in its crib.

Eustace Cranch
August 23, 2017 7:33 am

Scientific information that is filtered through layers and layers of media bias, political spin, and appalling journalistic ignorance is not science anymore!!!
Very few people, percentage-wise, seek out raw, unfiltered information and take the time to analyze and interpret it for themselves. Most people “take someone else’s word for it” and that is not objective thinking. It results in an extremely skewed public perception of physical reality.

August 23, 2017 7:39 am

The silence is settled, and it’s time to break our science surrounding climate change.

Reply to  Brad Keyes
August 23, 2017 9:07 pm

Oops—I see that joke’s been done before ( By me, no less! At moments like this I know I’m getting old senior.

August 23, 2017 7:53 am

The Great Eclipse of 2017 and Trump voters.
“It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people,” Ristroph wrote in a 4,500-word post in The Atlantic.
Boston Globe added this map, showing the path of totality goes almost exclusively through counties that voted for Trump.
But nearly the whole country voted for Trump according to this map.
The map shows the great divide of the country. Republicans are in the majority in rural areas, Democrats dominate the cities, especially the inner cities.
People living in rural areas are different from people dwelling in inner cities in many ways, but I will mention only one thing, their attitude to Climate Change.
Rural people see the sun rise, watch the clouds form, marvel at the tremendous stability of the weather in spite of storms, tornadoes, hail, snow, rain and floods. It is all coming from the sun, and has nothing to do with increasing CO2. Things were worse during the dust bowl years, max temperatures were higher, hurricanes worse, and so on.
They will be vindicated when they experience the sudden drop intemperature during the eclipse. It is all from the sun.
Not so the inner city dwellers. They experience global warming. The heat from the street and the stench from diesel engines are enough to make believers of them. In addition they rarely if ever experience a sunrise and a sunset, and the pollution and decaying buildings convince them global warming is real.
For a city dweller all Climate Change is man made. By en large they do not know about the Ice Age and all the climate changes that has taken place since then, they believe this is unprecedented and disaster looms.
To them everything they see is man-made and even we cannot fix the weather we can sure fix the earth’s climate since we made this mess in the first place.

Reply to  lenbilen
August 23, 2017 10:00 am


Reply to  lenbilen
August 23, 2017 4:38 pm

The Dust bowl, that was man made!

Ziiex Zeburz
August 23, 2017 7:53 am

Water, water everywhere
and not a drop to drink,
water, water everywhere
and all the boards did srink
( S.C.T. )

Ziiex Zeburz
August 23, 2017 7:55 am

Oppps! typo….. shrink.

Reply to  Ziiex Zeburz
August 23, 2017 11:52 am

S.C.T. should be S.T.C. (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)

Cold in Wisconsin
August 23, 2017 7:56 am

Did they investigate the alternative hypothesis that scientific knowledge might inform your political opinions, at least on a given topic?
For myself I will say that I believed in “global warming” until Climate-gate. At that point it made me suspicious and I started to do some research, including on this site. So I guess my trust in “science” also went down significantly. I also worked for a pharmaceutical company, very science based, and I saw what I felt to be manipulation of science, which also lowered my trust.
“Percentage probability of correct answer” shows their bias 100%.

Reply to  Cold in Wisconsin
August 23, 2017 9:08 am

I fail to see how an in depth knowledge of physics would inform one as to whether government taking money from one group of people in order to buy votes from another group of people is good for the economy?

john harmsworth
Reply to  MarkW
August 23, 2017 11:50 am

Or the environment!

August 23, 2017 8:22 am

If the climate science swamp ever gets drained, the next step is to drain the social science swamp.
When that has been done, I won’t have to worry my head trying to work out what ‘polarized’ means.

August 23, 2017 8:25 am

Looking at this from outside the US, it seems to me climate scepticism maps closely to strongly held US Republican beliefs…
Outside the US, scepticism is a minority view, held again by people with strong right conservative views. And I think they’ve adopted it from the literature of those of similar political stance in the US, ready made.
So opinion on climate science is polarized on US political ideological lines.
(which isn’t a useful thing for those of us outside the US)

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 10:23 am

You imply that political views are responsible for the skepticism about CAGW, without evidence. In my opinion, it is more likely that the kind of well-educated, enquiring mind that demands reliable evidence is also the kind of mind that dismisses the emotionalism of the Left. What might be useful for those outside the US, who have never really thrown off the shackles of feudalism, and still recognize the authority of The Church and Nobility, is to renounce the influence of authoritarianism and learn to think for yourself.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 11:14 am

Griff, you SHOULD be skeptical no matter what political,religious affiliation you are in. It is about EVIDENCE, which are based in Nature only. If you open your eyes and mind, you will be amazed how FEW people really just follow the evidence, without an ideology behind it.
The difference is how free minded you really are in the world,are you a FREETHINKER, who decides for yourself what is real and what is false?
The comments I have seen you published in several places,indicate that you are beholden to an ideology that compels you to be highly selective in what you want to believe and follow. You have been shown and exposed to be a lying,unapologetic, dishonest person. You ignore a lot of contrary evidence that doesn’t fit your belief system.
You are a CONFORMIST,a herd follower, you are not truly free at all.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Sunsettommy
August 23, 2017 11:57 am

Methinks you know him all too well!

Reply to  Sunsettommy
August 23, 2017 5:34 pm

Now come on Tommy, efair do’s!
Even lying, unapologetic, dishonest persons have to earn a living somehow, and Griff does it by attempting to discredit AGW sceptics and opponents of ‘Unreliable’ energy.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 11:56 am

Conversely, most of the area that believes in man made global warming is comprised of left wing people. These discerning folks have such limited understanding of math and economics that they think we can borrow enough money to be wealthy. And apparently you are one of these, Griff. Your science is crap. If you know anything about science you know that is true. As I’ve said before, I think you are paid to come here. Sad.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 12:21 pm

My very existence refutes all that you have written.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 4:37 pm

And, a bunch of copycats. The only thing different from the “apocalypse” predicted by these “scientists” not lifted straight from Revelation is the flooding.
Why no flooding in Revelation? Genesis 9. But then the rainbow has been appropriated, as well, it seems.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 5:29 pm

“Outside the US, scepticism is a minority view,”
Another lie, Skanky.
Here are the results of the 2015 United Nations Global survey of 9,736,484 respondents concerning their concerns and priorities.
Note that “Action taken on climate change” comes flat last by a considerable margin, sixteenth out of sixteen categories.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 6:57 pm

Griff, you write “Outside the US, scepticism is a minority view”, from which a person may only conclude science itself is a minority discipline outside the US, a conclusion I think would be difficult to support with evidence.
It’s been pointed out frequently on these pages and others that scepticism is intrinsic to the scientific method; without it, science can’t exist. If what you say is true the explanation you advance, that science is somehow dependent on political views, there should be virtually no scientific advances made outside the borders of the United States, which is prima facie untrue.

Reply to  Griff
August 23, 2017 9:52 pm

Griff, so what is the strong reasons for climate scepticism outside the US? In Australia it’s probably fair to say there is as much cynicism as scepticism with the public about climate change. Australia runs at 70% of people who believe in climate change (including myself) but that falls to below 45% when you ask are they prepared to do anything about it (I drop away). If you ask are you prepared to suffer financial hardship to do more the number plummets to basically the green voters and why the subject is political nightmare.
The big difference in Europe is the number of green voters and lets face it that is who the CAGW plays out with. Australia it’s hard to pin the actual number of green voters we have a historical high of 12% but they often get the protest vote and it varies from senate to lower house. I would guess it is probably around 8-10%. In The US I see figure at about 5-7% but I don’t live there and those who do probably have a better handle.
So I would argue the biggest determinant in real belief and commitment in CAGW is do you align with a Green political party. Griff, you only need look at yourself as a prime example. You spend what must be hours on an anti-CAGW forum mostly lying, talking about stuff you know nothing about, and trying to find some obscure news article that proves some random point. Really just go out and bang your head against the brick wall it will serve the same need in your life. To many of us you are the proof that some in the Green factions are just more than a little unhinged.

Reply to  LdB
August 24, 2017 1:49 pm

“The big difference in Europe is the number of green voters and lets face it that is who the CAGW plays out with.”
In the UK, the Green share of the vote at the 2017 General Election was a massive 1.6%, hardly an indicator that the British population are hugely concerned by the climate scaremongers.
So clearly scepticism is rather less of a minority view than Griff is pretending.

August 23, 2017 8:26 am

As a professional geologist myself, I have extreme distrust in models though or because I make them – maps – every day. Models are notorious for being wrong but are useful for choosing which avenue to go down when given many options. Only experience tells you which work – today. Here. For this purpose.
Models are exercises in evidence fitting. But non-unique solutions are the way of the universe.
In business those who believe their personal model to the exclusion of others or outcome – because they see themselves as exceptionally smart and the market fets them – are disasters. They destroy their companies and the investors wealth. Oddly, they often make a pile of money themselves.
Hello, Dr. Mann?

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 4:49 pm

David you can observe as much as you like but there is no substitute for experiment. Geology is conjecture because no one has observed the vast majority of the acts. Man has only been on the earth for but a few seconds on the clock that measures the earth. Oh! yes you can analyse the rocks but that is chemistry. Yo can work out the forces but that is physics. If you have not observed it how do you know it is true?

Alan Reed
August 23, 2017 8:29 am

Damn. I wrote down water vapour.

Robert of Texas
August 23, 2017 8:34 am

I have always said, going to school and earning a degree is not the same as building an understanding. Some (maybe many) earn a degree by parroting what they are told or read but never achieve an understanding. Others achieve understanding and can go beyond what they taught by using what they learn in new and unique ways.
My primary example is a person I worked with who had just earned their Masters degree in Computer Programming who couldn’t write a working 20 line piece of code in the programming language they had been using for the past 3 years (this is not an exaggeration). Their job title was Analyst/Programmer and they were hired to write code.
I remember reading a question out of a science magazine about how “Man survived during the reign of dinosaurs…” Most of my fully educated colleagues with a bachelor or better degree answered “By hiding in caves” (multiple choice question, this was BEFORE birds were accepted as the living descendants of dinosaurs). I remember feeling dazed since I thought it was such an obvious stupid question – but the majority of my well educated colleagues didn’t know.
Or the Physics major colleague who argued with me about why the moon orbits the Earth – they thought it was magnetism.
Understanding Climate Change is a heck of a lot harder. So calling someone scientifically literate because they have achieved a degree or gone to college for some number of years is a mistake.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 23, 2017 9:59 am

Love your examples! I agree just because someone has a “scientific” degree doesn’t mean they understand science not even science in their own field of study or that they can do good science. I managed a lot of folks with advanced science degrees. They older they were the better they understood science in general and the quicker they were to say they didn’t know. The younger scientists amazed me daily. Some made up or changed data to get the statistical models they were trying to use to work. They didn’t see any problem with doing so. Some were supposedly renowned statisticians but could not keep a simple project budget. I knew one person who had done their PhD work on feeding study of a marine species that was a nocturnal feeder. The person had never dove at night to observe the species nor collected them at night to do stomach content. He got his degree from a prominent university and run a major government program for some years. We had another person who went around our established editorial and publishing policies. None of the statistical methods he used in the paper were appropriate for how he had collected his data. We found out about the paper from one of the journal’s reviewers. He called me shocked that we had allowed such an awful paper out of our organization. When we called the author and asked for an explanation their response was how dare we question their science; they had a PhD and we didn’t. They said “I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.” That individual is also now running a major federal science program. The younger our staff was the less chance they understood Scientific Method. We had to bring in someone to teach proper Scientific Method, then one on the proper use of statistics, and then a legal class on what it meant to try to publish fraudulent data.

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Edwin
August 23, 2017 11:31 am

Funny you should say that. Not too long ago, I sampled several dozen papers on the populations of currently faddish (and important) estuarine habitats, grassbeds, marshes, and oyster reefs. Something over 95% did not sample at night or did not give the time of day, their context indicating daytime. I have been somewhat guilty even having published nighttime studies from long ago graduate school. Night work is not always critical, is dangerous and much more difficult to avoid bias, but sometimes absolutely essential. Some of these researchers know better and have even done night work, so there must be a long standing mindset that is guiding research on this and other important questions. I have a surprisingly long list which suggests something other than science has been guiding research imperatives.
Geologists are better, rocks, even mudstones, are usually harder. Australians may know better also.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 23, 2017 10:46 am

So calling someone scientifically literate because they have achieved a degree or gone to college for some number of years is a mistake.

Right you are, ……. one’ purchase of a College Diploma or Degree via payment of tuition costs is not proof or evidence that said person is sufficiently knowledgeable and capable of performing the “work” that is associated with said Degree status …….. and is akin to …….. an inexperienced person entering a Lowe’s or Sears store and purchasing a large floor model “tool box” full of mechanic’s tools, via payment of “cash money”, ……. and then strolling across the street to a large automotive dealership and applying for a Master Mechanic position/job.

Reply to  Robert of Texas
August 23, 2017 4:54 pm

To paraphrase Marx I would not want to be in a college that would have them as members.

Reply to  Ron
August 23, 2017 8:11 pm

That would be Groucho rather than Karl I think?

August 23, 2017 8:34 am

Alarmists want there to be a neat inverse relationship between science literacy and climate skepticism, but this is one more study that disproves that would-be convenient (for the smug) notion. I also note with interest that one of the graphs seems to show that the low end of science literacy is dominated by Liberal Democrats. That’s what I would have guessed, but nice to see it borne out in the data…

DD More
Reply to  Taylor Pohlman
August 23, 2017 9:37 am

Are you scientific or just informed on what the CAGW side says? List of Yale Study of the Questions.
Ordinary Climate-Science Intelligence Assessment (OCSI)
Climate scientists believe that if the North Pole icecap melted as a result of human-caused global warming, global sea levels would rise.
Climate scientists have concluded that globally averaged surface air temperatures were higher for the first decade of the twenty-first century (2000-2009) than for the last decade of the twentieth century (1990-1999).
Climate scientists believe that human-caused global warming will result in flooding of many coastal regions.
Climate scientists believe that human-caused global warming has increased the number and severity of hurricanes around the world in recent decades.
Climate scientists believe that nuclear power generation contributes to global warming.
Climate scientists believe that human-caused global warming will increase the risk of skin cancer in human beings.
Climate scientists and economists predict there will be positive as well as negative effects from human-caused global warming.
Climate scientists believe that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide associated with the burning of fossil fuels will reduce photosynthesis by plants.
What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures in the atmosphere to rise? Is it [carbon dioxide, hydrogen, helium, radon]
Notice a pattern here? Are you rated scientificly Intelligent or just know what Climate scientists believe. No need to ‘Know’ science to answer questions of what other people Believe. Bit like Religion, just a different denomination.

john harmsworth
Reply to  DD More
August 23, 2017 12:05 pm

Climate scientists have proven…..? Crickets!

Reply to  DD More
August 23, 2017 12:31 pm

Good heavens you mean that some skeptical folk actually don’t believe but understand some of this stuff?
Maybe should add /sarc.

Reply to  DD More
August 23, 2017 5:41 pm

“Climate scientists believe that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide associated with the burning of fossil fuels will reduce photosynthesis by plants.”
Evidence clearly demonstrates otherwise.
And that’s only one of your major errors concerning climate scientists.
You haven’t the first clue what you’re wittering about.

August 23, 2017 8:36 am

“Eclipses have no associated political controversies”
Well not anymore. But I imagine they were used for convenience in earlier times.
Certainly didn’t bode well for Merlin in “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court”!

Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 10:35 am

Sounds like a direct rip-off of King Solomon’s Mines.

john harmsworth
Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 12:07 pm

King Solomon’s first name was Jim. Nice guy! Always wore his crown a little crooked.

William Astley
August 23, 2017 8:45 am

What we are discussing is ironic science, mixed in with politically motivated fake science/fake engineering, and mixed in with the breathless fantasy world view of well meaning fanatics who do not understand what science is and who will lead us enthusiastically off of a cliff.
Ironic science looks like science but can never converge on the truth. See John Horgan’s book ‘End of Science’.
Why is there is no discussion or at least acknowledgement of the paleo record?
Come on man, it is a fact, that there are periods of millions of years in the paleo record when atmospheric CO2 has been high and the planet is cold and vice versa. There is not even correlation of atmospheric CO2 levels and planetary temperature in the paleo record.
It is a fact that the planet’s climate changes cyclically both poles. It is a fact that after 30 years there is no mechanism which can explain the past cyclic climate change.
There is cyclic warming in the paleo record both poles, same periodicity both poles, in all cases followed by cyclic cooling.

Davis and Taylor: “Does the current global warming signal reflect a natural cycle”
…We found 342 natural warming events (NWEs) corresponding to this definition, distributed over the past 250,000 years …. …. The 342 NWEs contained in the Vostok ice core record are divided into low-rate warming events (LRWEs; < 0.74oC/century) and high rate warming events (HRWEs; ≥ 0.74oC /century) (Figure). … …. "Recent Antarctic Peninsula warming relative to Holocene climate and ice – shelf history" and authored by Robert Mulvaney and colleagues of the British Antarctic Survey ( Nature , 2012, doi:10.1038/nature11391),reports two recent natural warming cycles, one around 1500 AD and another around 400 AD, measured from isotope (deuterium) concentrations in ice cores bored adjacent to recent breaks in the ice shelf in northeast Antarctica. ….

Greenland ice temperature, last 11,000 years determined from ice core analysis, Richard Alley’s paper. William: As this graph indicates the Greenland Ice data shows that have been 9 warming and cooling periods in the last 11,000 years.

Reply to  William Astley
August 23, 2017 10:20 am

I’ve been reading up on climate issues and following the conversation for quite a while….I look at the above graphs, I read about sun activity, I see the sun is the most active now in the last 1000 years, I read about planetary orbits, I read about NAO, AO, PDO, El Nino and La Nina heating and cooling cycles, I read that a warming arctic is actually heat escaping the atmosphere, I look at the tidal gauges (no acceleration noted), I see storms are decreasing, I see its a warm now as it was in 1940, I see lots of data manipulation, I see the divergence of the models to the actual data the last 20 years, I see the photos of the thames river frozen over in the little ice age, I see it was hotter 2k, 4k and 8k years ago….
But no, all of that isn’t real and doesn’t have anything to do with temperature. the 4 tenths of 1 percent co2 in the atmosphere, apparently all from humans in the last 100 years, is the sole reason for the recent heating. AND, the heating is going to continue and burn us all up, crops will die, we will flood…Somehow the 4 billion year old planet that has built in feedback mechanisms to avoid ice planet and hot planet conditions that have worked forever, now cant overcome the new co2 that WE put into the atmosphere? When there was lots more co2 before, that co2 didn’t matter, its the new co2 that is the problem.
So lets crater our economy, incur huge spending, tax ourselves to oblivion and send the money somewhere else, keep people without power in poverty…for the good of the planet?
Really? Im an engineer and that doesn’t make any sense at all. My professors taught me to check my answers and see if they made sense.

Randy in Ridgecrest
Reply to  justadumbengineer
August 23, 2017 11:13 am

four hundredths of a percent, otherwise I agree.

john harmsworth
Reply to  justadumbengineer
August 23, 2017 12:14 pm

And all this horrible stuff is always “just around the corner”. Every other year is the “last chance” to stop Global Warming. Meanwhile, after almost 70 years of “intense” amplification via CO2, I can’t tell the difference in the weather from 1975 and most days the record highs are from the ’30’s and the hiatus is going on 18 years. Apparently, they think we are idiots because we have some profound doubts about their pet hypothesis. It is not a theory! And it doesn’t look very accurate!

Reply to  justadumbengineer
August 23, 2017 12:59 pm

Yes, but don’t tell Griff, we’re trying to get it so he’s the last one to know.
So far so good —
I don’t think he noticed.

Reply to  justadumbengineer
August 23, 2017 3:33 pm

justadumbengineer – It’s pretty surreal, isn’t it. When you get right down to it, when you look at the evidence, when you really put everything into context, like you just did in your post…it is surreal that so much of the world actually believes that man-made global warming is a real problem. How could this be? There is no evidence from the past to support it. There is no evidence in the world today that can differentiate it from what is completely normal. There is no empirical science that declares it must be so. It is just an assumption that has somehow morphed into a declaration of proof, with no support from the real world.
How did this happen?
I found half of the answer in the study of human history and the human brain. Apparently, making up stories and believing them to be absolutely true is part of our make-up as human beings. We do it individually and collectively. We always have. Our brains are designed to draw sweeping conclusions from very little evidence, especially the primitive part of the brain that typical resides in what we call the subconscious. While this skill has been very vital in the basic survival of the human race, it is also easily susceptible to manipulation, from the outside or even internally. It is only a conscious mind that can override the primitive, story-building, primitive part of the brain and see what is actually going on. Which brings me to the second half of the answer to ‘how did this happen’, eloquently expressed by Meg Ryan in Joe vs. The Volcano:

J Mac
Reply to  justadumbengineer
August 23, 2017 3:45 pm

That’s a really good summary of the historical climate and current climate alarmism.
And you are no ‘dumb’ engineer!

Reply to  William Astley
August 23, 2017 8:19 pm

William, the two graphs you present should be sufficient for anyone to conclude the relation between CO2 and temperature is, if anything, negative.
That this virtual “fact” continues to be ignored by climate “scientists” should tell you there’s really no hope at all of disabusing them using evidence.

August 23, 2017 8:54 am

We’ll do the good news first: there’s no sign of cultural polarization on GMOs
the above is from the article..
I guess I am not in the loop..
‘No Monsanto!’: World marches against GMO food — RT News

Reply to  embutler
August 23, 2017 10:06 am

Yes embutler, indeed, I took exception to, the following sentence:
“There are no religious or political reasons to oppose GMO foods or nanotechnology.”
I oppose GMO foods for political reasons, related to placing patents on living things.
There is no need in an article such as this to slip in unsubstantiated, off-topic lines such as these. GMO foods require a whole new WUWT of their own. Dismissing the reasonable concerns of people plays into the hands of companies that would do harm for profit.

August 23, 2017 9:41 am

I have no religion, and politically I identify with Heinlein’s group of ‘those who have no such desire [to control people]”. If hard pressed on what I believe, I would have to say that I believe in the ability of mathematics to model the physical world. My *opinions* on ‘climate science’ are based on my PhD level education in mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
I have concluded that the ‘atmospheric greenhouse effect’ is post hoc rationalization used to account for phenomena which the speaker cannot otherwise describe – the logical equivalent of a God of Thunder – a rhetorical shorthand notation used to discuss things about which the speakers are shamefully ignorant of the physical causes. Like ‘political science’ or ‘free energy’, using ‘greenhouse effect’ in the discussion of the atmosphere is a misappropriation of a phrase with a specific meaning in one specific context into a totally unrelated context with a totally perverted meaning. Since no discussion of ‘climate science’ these days is complete without this misuse of the term ‘greenhouse effect’, the entire field, with all of its political trappings, is tantamount to a religion.
A greenhouse always needs a roof.
The Standard Atmosphere models (NACA/NASA, US, and ISO) were developed over a period of nearly 25 years, based on physics, to describe the properties of the atmosphere in order to facilitate military rocket science and the space programs of several nations.
These successful models are essentially unchanged since 1976 since they accurately agree with literally millions of empirical measurements taken on the ground and by aircraft, balloons, and sounding rockets.
It is noteworthy that in the troposphere the most important quantity in these models is the adiabatic lapse rate dT/dh, which depends on the acceleration of gravity g and the heat capacity of the air Cp, which in turn depends greatly on the absolute humidity and only insignificantly on the carbon dioxide content.
I am still looking for a self-styled ‘climate scientist’ who understands the adiabatic lapse rate.
When pollsters ask about ‘the beliefs of scientists’ regarding what gas ’causes temperatures in the atmosphere atmosphere to rise’, they are asking an ill-formed question. The cause of atmospheric temperature rise is not any particular gas, but energy input from the sun and compression by the weight of the gas above, regardless of what ‘scientists’ profess to believe.
CO2 is NOT an energy source.

J Mac
August 23, 2017 9:43 am

The ARS Technica article used a graph from the PNAS paper (Drummond and Frishoff). The graph, titled “Climate Science Literacy”: item response theory bears a footnote indicating the graph and data are a production of the Annenberg Center for Public Policy and Cultural Cognition. This is a ‘left’ oriented political science foundation that strives to ‘guide’ public policy though biased studies they generate. David Middleton accurately exposes their biased view but I thought it useful to provide the ‘follow the money’ perspective.
Before Barack Obama became president, he headed a similarly funded ‘Annenberg Challenge’ in Chicago that was supposed to revolutionize education there. It was a total flop.

john harmsworth
Reply to  J Mac
August 23, 2017 12:20 pm

Government directed education reform. Brought to you by the same people who:
Fixed the deficit
Brought peace to the world
Fixed New Orleans
Need to wreck your life to fix climate change- you can thank them for it later!

August 23, 2017 9:50 am

IMHO much of the distrust in “scientific advances” in biology stems from Hollywood’s adaptations of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein; The Modern Prometheus”.
All sorts of fictional scientific disaster movies abound (The Core). This sort of fictional crap scares the ignorant masses.

john harmsworth
Reply to  rocketscientist
August 23, 2017 12:25 pm

The pharmaceutical industry and Social Sciences have brought great disrepute to science generally. The hard sciences just keep chugging along, making meaningful discoveries that can be verified.

Reply to  rocketscientist
August 23, 2017 9:59 pm

Agree with that. The pharm put money and the climate sciences put politics before science and both are playing a dangerous game.

August 23, 2017 11:22 am

People’s need to believe, atheists and agnostics in the modern era, are prone to conflate logical domains and exceeding the limits of the scientific domain in both time and space. Ironically, most theists recognize at least two logical domains: science and faith, and more recognize fantasy and philosophy, too.

john harmsworth
Reply to  nn
August 23, 2017 12:28 pm

Socialists and Environmentalists try to pretend that Marx and Mann represent scientific approaches when all they really are is a path to power. Corrupt before they even get started.

August 23, 2017 11:31 am

This makes perfect sense. There are no religious or political reasons to oppose GMO foods or nanotechnology.

I would have thought there was an obvious religious objection to genetic manipulation creating new species or crossing animals which would not interbreed naturally.
This is messing with God’s creation. Creating unnatural beings is surely the work of the devil !
But if you are politically predisposed to accept the premise of the study I guess you will not notice that this does not fit. 😉

J Mac
Reply to  Greg
August 23, 2017 12:46 pm

“I would have thought……”
If you really had given any thought to this, you would not have offered your ignorant troll comments and exposed your biased lack of understanding of both science and faith.
Splicing an herbicide-resistant grass gene into corn and soybean grains is just good applied science. It in no way alters or impairs the quality of the food derived from those grains. Nor does it ‘alarm’ science literate people of faith.

August 23, 2017 11:31 am

I’ve also noticed that Electrical Engineers are more likely to fall into the skeptic camp and if they have left leaning politics, are more likely to be a lukewarmer or be on the fence, rather then take up the cause of alarmism.

john harmsworth
Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 23, 2017 12:31 pm

Perhaps because they are more familiar with self limiting systems or negative feedback and control? The planet seems to pretty obviously have these built in to be basically stable for almost 4 billion years.

Reply to  john harmsworth
August 23, 2017 12:49 pm

Yes, as an EE myself, that’s my take on it too. EE’s also tend to intuitively understand concepts like equivalent modelling (Thevenin, Norton, …) and transformation math (S-domain, Z-domain, ..), both of which can be applied to take something as complex and non linear as the climate system (actually non linearity is the result of an emphasis on temperature and not energy) and represent it with a far simpler, equivalent and mostly linear model where superposition can apply. EE’s also tend to understand the concept of reverse engineering black boxes by modelling the behavior at the boundaries of the box without needing to know what’s inside the box.

Reply to  john harmsworth
August 23, 2017 1:27 pm

Also electrical and electronic engineers understand the rules of their profession without actually needing to know what an electron is, only the laws that govern it .
When at a task of work these engineers have honed their imaginations to stay within these rationalities. Engineers also understand that computer modeled versions of systems and circuits are not always correct as the limitations of real world materials and circuit effects are sometime different from idealized virtual components.

richard verney
Reply to  john harmsworth
August 23, 2017 7:12 pm

<blockquote.Perhaps because they are more familiar with self limiting systems or negative feedback and control? The planet seems to pretty obviously have these built in to be basically stable for almost 4 billion years.
You have to bear in mind that whilst the IPCC claims that water vapour is a positive feedback (which many on this site consider to be highly dubious), the IPCC accept that the totality of feedbacks, in the climate system, is and remains negative.
When the IPCC claim that water vapour is a positive feedback, all they are doing is reducing the strength of the overall negative system feedback; they are not turning an overall negative feedback into a positive feedback. That is why the models do not suggest that Earth will end up as Venus.

August 23, 2017 11:45 am

Mark Twain popularized a saying that may apply here: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”

john harmsworth
Reply to  Tom Bjorklund
August 23, 2017 12:32 pm

Al Gore is familiar with all these and possibly some more besides.

Reply to  Tom Bjorklund
August 24, 2017 3:17 am

The saying was made by Benjamin Disraeli.

Pat Frank
August 23, 2017 11:48 am

The study appears to implicitly assume that the science is definitive in each case. That is unlikely to be true.
Differing views among the scientifically educated can easily be based in science, because the science is still ambiguous or equivocal.
The article does not explore the rationales offered by those having differing beliefs. We don’t factually know why the people believe as they do. Therefore it’s impossible to know which group, if any, is irrational.
Given the lack of contextual logic and reasoning in the decisions, the article is at best phenomenological, with no objective explanatory meaning.

Michelle Montgomery
August 23, 2017 12:06 pm

We might find general value in this post regarding the details that break along party/religious lines, which I think is something we already sensed. But it bothers me a great deal that the survey questions are leading and the data nearly 10 years old! So much has changed!
There are far greater number of scientists today, and growing, that do not agree that CO2 causes warming at all, and in fact just the opposite… follows temperature. On the other side, I would venture to say that the rate of alarmists has greatly increased.
In many ways, this report becomes not useful in helping identify what we’re really dealing with. In fact, it could actually be harmful in suggesting that many of these questions are still relevant if the reader doesn’t catch this was done in 2008.

john harmsworth
Reply to  Michelle Montgomery
August 23, 2017 12:38 pm

I don’t think it’s meant to be useful, exactly. It is a tippy-toe way of saying that scientifically ignorant people are more sceptical about “settled” science. It is propaganda lite. The reality is that the veracity of much science today is very weak. This has been shown repeatedly in meta studies. Unless and until science can fix its replication problems it actually behooves us all to examine scientific claims very carefully. Especially where they indicate a need for deep structural changes to our society, lest these turn into catastrophic failed experiments.

Joel Snider
August 23, 2017 12:26 pm

You mean that if more people understand the science, they might be less likely to blithely take the word of some ‘expert’, and make up their own minds?
That does NOT suit the collectivist mantra.

richard verney
Reply to  Joel Snider
August 23, 2017 7:16 pm

It is worth recalling Richard Feynman’s insightful comment:

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

Yogi Bear
August 23, 2017 12:26 pm
Gary Pearse
August 23, 2017 12:38 pm

It’s the usual lefty illegitimate machinations.
1)There is no rejecting GMO, nanotech, stem cells, eclipses. They are real whether we like them or not. We can know the science inside out but still reject its use.
2)Climate science asTeam CO2 has it, is not established yet – much is in dispute and the proponents are unable to give us convincing scientific evidence that they have it right. With the broken predictions, a couple of decades of Pause, the jiggering out of the pause and its apparent imminent return, aren’t factors to give confidence. Indeed, shame on geologists and engineers who support it. How do they react to asking them to explain the failures? Just like Al Gore, not like scientists, they insult questioners.
3) They use the non scientific word belief.
The great risk that these folk take, is that failure with this hypothesis is going to end up having Conservatives being recognized as the saviours of science. That Conservatives recognized the game being played and have staved off ruination of the world political economy. Now Conservatives haven’t been claiming this role. It’s being thrust upon them by the left. Hubris and entitlement vanquished Hillary and the left in the last election. Hubris and entitlement drives the the political science of thermageddon CliSci.
I’m afraid they aren’t making the independent geological spirit like they used to. Don’t forget the present crop has been fed lefty post normal fancy for a generation and more.

J Mac
Reply to  Gary Pearse
August 23, 2017 12:51 pm

In my experience, it is left-leaning folks that reject GMO’s as ‘FrankenFood’ and such drek. It is anathema, here in the Seattle area.

August 23, 2017 1:35 pm

The new paper is just another social science salvo on the same topic — they have decided that Conservatives who actually are trained in Science do not support some Scientific Consensus views because they are better at finding reasons to be irrational.
It never occurs to them that the better trained scientifically, and being more conservative-minded and in possession of critical thinking skills allows Conservative Scientists to see through false consensus positions based on political and social biases instead of science.

Reply to  Kip Hansen
August 23, 2017 1:36 pm

BTW — the document locator for the new study is doi:10.1073/pnas.1704882114

Paul Aubrin
August 23, 2017 1:52 pm

Try this:
Unfortunately, the paper is behind the PNAS paywall.

Leo Smith
August 23, 2017 1:55 pm

there are two sorts of academics: rote learners and original thinkers.
Rote learners have to depend on authoritative sources. They do no original research really, they just ‘fill in’ the corners.
They will go along with whatever is presented to them as ‘proper science’
Original thinkers will question and be skeptical.
There are no original thinkers in the Liberal camp. If they thought, they wouldn’t be there.

August 23, 2017 3:15 pm

Politically I believe that Mankind’s burning up the Earth’s very finite supply of fossil fuels just as quickly as possible is not such a good idea. I would like to use AGW as another reason to conserve but the AGW conjecture is just too full of holes to defend. The biggest problem with the AGW conjecture is that the radiant greenhouse effect, upon which the AGW conjecture is based, has not been observed anywhere in the solar system including the Earth. The radiant greenhouse effect is science fiction hence the AGW conjecture is science fiction. It is all a matter of science and has nothing to do with anyone’s political or religious affiliation.

richard verney
Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 7:26 pm

All you are showing is that CO2 is a radiative gas.
It’s laboratory properties are well known, but Earth’s atmosphere is very far removed from laboratory conditions, and to date we have been unable to wean out the warming signal to CO2 over and above the noise of natural variation in temperature, notwithstanding the use of our best measuring devices but of course as restricted by the error bounds that come with these measuring devices, and the practice and methodology of collecting and assimilating the data. Accordingly, we just do not know whether CO2 is or is not a GHG.
Until such time as we detect and measure and quantify the signal, we simply will not know.

richard verney
Reply to  David Middleton
August 23, 2017 7:44 pm

There is an abundance of evidence that suggests that the planet today is about the same temperature as it was in the late 1930s/early 1940s (well the NH, and we only have historic data on the NH, and as Phil Jones observed in the Climategate emails the SH temps are largely made up). We only know what has happened in the NH, and I would suggest that the (contiguous) US is not an outlier and that if the NH temps were to be measured properly they would show broadly the same temperature profile as the (contiguous) US..
Assuming that to be the case all the warming observed from the LIA took place through to say 1940 with an increase of about 30ppm of CO2, whereas since 1940 there has been no rise in temperatures notwithstanding an increase in CO2 of about (or a little over) 100 ppm.
That puts a rather different complexion on matters.

August 23, 2017 5:25 pm

The correct answer to question 1 is Hydrogen because it is only one that burns in air otherwise you’d have to say the question makes no sense because it says nothing about over what period and in what circumstances.

August 23, 2017 5:34 pm

Dave what will be the new fuel for the human race? Unless you can state it then how do you know that there will be one? We have been told that nuclear for 60 years now and that electricity from it would be too cheap to meter. So much faith for a saviour new fuel appearing in the future sounds like the Messiah . Not very scientific is it.

August 23, 2017 8:32 pm

You certainly picked a ripe target when you chose to quote John Timmer, Science editor for Ars Technica. I have some personal experience with John, who once banned me from the Ars comment site for presenting data on the known error in carbon 14 dating methods. I had the temerity to quote the organization responsible for determining that error.
John is a tyrannical buffoon of the highest order.

Jarryd Beck
August 23, 2017 8:53 pm

It’s an interesting conclusion that they make, I certainly saw it in my own time at University.
While I was at University I learnt what science was and can see the BS. Interestingly though, a lot of people around me, who were generally even more educated, seemed to just blindly trust that some other expert knows more than they do. People are so entrenched in the specialist way of thinking that they trust anyone who works in a more specific field than they do on some particular subject.

Reply to  Jarryd Beck
August 23, 2017 9:15 pm

“People are so entrenched in the specialist way of thinking that they trust anyone who works in a more specific field than they do on some particular subject.”
I was a victim of that very thing myself Jarryd, I can’t agree more. I’ve read others on this forum who’ve admitted the problem. I was (briefly) involved in government funded atmospheric research in the late 70’s and when I moved on to the private sector and got busy with my own career and family I just assumed the folks involved in climate research had the same level of discipline and integrity I’d observed while I was with NASA and NOAA. It wasn’t until 2003, when I retired and decided I could maybe donate my experience for the greater good that I became aware of the gross violations of fundamental statistical and scientific method that had been perpetrated by actors such as Dr. Mann (who was the author of the first paper I read that raised my alarm).
It’s difficult for me to even remember the time I was a benign “believer” in the work of my fellow scientists, but I think it’s happened to all of us.

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