The Sciences

"A Little Knowledge": Climate Skepticism and Sophistication

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJun 27, 2011 6:13 PM


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My latest DeSmogBlog piece is a bit bibliographic: It elaborates on the post about the latest Kahan study by cobbling together four other studies showing something similar and obviously related:

Higher Education and Climate Skepticism.2008 Pew survey showed not only that Democrats and Republicans are polarized over whether they accept global warming, but also that for Republicans, having a college degree didn’t make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better educated Republicans were more skeptical of modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college educated Republicans. Increased Knowledge and Climate Concern. In a 2009 paper in the journalRisk Analysis, a team of social scientists found that “Among people who trust scientists to provide reliable information about the environment and among Democrats and Independents, increased knowledge has been associated with increased concern. But among people who are skeptical about scientists and among Republicans more knowledge was generally not associated with greater concern.” Interaction Between Education, Politics, and Views on Climate Change. A 2009 paper in Climatic Change by Lawrence Hamilton of the University of New Hampshire found that in two surveys—of New Hampshire and Michigan residents—climate denial was inversely related to more education and more self professed knowledge of the issue among Republicans/conservatives. The author opined: “Narrowcast media, including many Web sites devoted to discrediting climate-change concerns, provide ideal conduits for channeling politically inspired but scientific sounding arguments to an audience predisposed to retain and repeat them.” Self Professed Knowledge and Climate Polarization: A series of 2011 surveys by Hamilton similarly found that Republicans and Democrats who profess to know less about the climate issue are closer to one another in their views about whether global warming is really happening. By contrast, Democrats and Republicans who think they know a lot about the issue are completely polarized, with Republicans quite confident the science is wrong.

Not like this finding is robust or anything....For more elaboration, read here.

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