Free Market Economics and Science Denial


Couldn’t resist this. Based on the content of the study, we can presume this will be denied as well.

Although nearly all domain experts agree that carbon dioxide emissions are altering the world’s climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a platform for denial of climate change, and bloggers have taken a prominent role in questioning climate science. We report a survey of climate-blog visitors to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings. Our results provide empirical support for previous suggestions that conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.


This merely confirms what most of us already knew: the reality of climate change due to human influences, such as greenhouse gasses and land use is not under debate. What is under debate is what to do about it. In order to argue we should do nothing, to keep faith with their ideological commitment to free market economics, denialsts must deny the science. Any way they can. Wildly ridiculous claims of hoax and conspiracy — it doesn’t matter. These folks don’t really care about facts or evidence. Just maintaining their ideological purity — or power.

About Policy Lass

Exploring skeptic tales.

12 Responses to “Free Market Economics and Science Denial”

  1. Hurray! A new gem from the Policy Lass. You’ve made my day and put a smile on my face 🙂

    I’ve been on a thread where someone rejects climate science, AIDS, the holes in the ozone layer and the Y2k problem – all in a single comment. He said he’s a mining engineer.

    (Has anyone done a study of the “engineer’s mind” – It does seem like a disproportionate number of them are outspoken against science. Of course, the job title “engineer” can denote many different roles, not all of them requiring a degree in engineering.)

  2. the Lewandowsky paper can be downloaded using this link…

    Click to access LskyetalPsychScienceinPressClimateConspiracy.pdf

  3. Duh:

    Republicans delayed action after 2010 study showed the problem; new autopsy reports in after explosion in dusty coal mine ….

  4. A suggestion: I posted this at RC 20 May 2013 at 10:51 AM as a pointer:

    Brief excerpt follows; but take the link, it’s worth reading in full


    “… Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticising the views of an opponent? …. uncharitable interpretation … gives you an easy target to attack.

    But such easy targets are typically irrelevant to the real issues at stake and simply waste everybody’s time and patience, even if they give amusement to your supporters. The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one’s opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

    How to compose a successful critical commentary:

    1. Attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly and fairly that your target says: “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.”

    2. List any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

    3. Mention anything you have learned from your target.

    4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

    One immediate effect of following these rules is that your targets will be a receptive audience for your criticism: you have already shown that you understand their positions as well as they do, and have demonstrated good judgment (you agree with them on some important matters and have even been persuaded by something they said). Following Rapoport’s rules is always, for me, something of a struggle …. ”

    ———end excerpt————–

    Kevin McKinney followed up down that thread 20 May 2013 at 11:07 PM with a personal reminiscence of Rapoport’s family worth reading.


    So that’s a long preface to a question for Policy Lass about the “Duh!” experiences we all have.

    Surely there’s been some study done about how policy is managed during faster-changing events (the ship’s sinking, the avalanche has started down the hill, the water’s boiling out from underneath the failing dam, the lid on the reactor is starting to dance up and down ….). Some combination of “Women and Children First” or “De’il Take The Hindmost” or “Kill them all and God will sort them out” or “No this can’t possibly be happening!”

    Is there any study done on how policy is determined under some kind of perhaps manageable pressure?

    The power for the radar system and computer goes off in Air Traffic Control and all the screens go blank — I know that’s happened and the response did get studied somewhere, the ATC people suddenly had to grab pencil and paper and write down everything they remembered, while continuing to talk to the aircraft out there ….

    I mean — basically — is there -any- general case for situations where humans -do- manage competently to handle an impending problem satisfactorily, worth reading up on?

    Oh, please?

  5. Then there’s stuff like this:
    … a non-renewable polluting resource and a carbon-free renewable one. Both resources can supply the energy needs of two sectors. Sector 1 is able to reduce its carbon footprint at a reasonable cost owing to a CCS device….

    … We assume that the atmospheric carbon stock cannot exceed some given ceiling. We show that there may exist paths along which it is optimal to begin by fully capturing the sector 1’s emissions before the ceiling has been reached.

    There “may exist” situations where , for those using fossil fuel with carbon-capture-and-storage implemented, it would make sense for those to be used _before_ hitting the level of CO2 in the atmosphere that must not be exceeded.

    Oh, there may, indeed. If such existed, it’s reassuring to know there _may_ be some reason to use them in advance of the last possible …

    oh, never mind.

    One of my programmer friends says “I hate hardware; if I didn’t need it to run software I’d never touch the stuff.”

    I feel similarly about policy and democracy, I think.

    • Aww, Hank, that’s so sweet of you to say! I intend to pen a new post soon, for the desire to write about climate is building to a point where it’s just going to be undeniable. I have been going through quite a year of change. TMI for some, so look away if you’re faint of heart, but a divorce and a cancer diagnosis have sidelined me, and in light of everything, I am taking an early retirement from government so that I can spend more time writing. I do keep up with several climate mailing lists and blogs I follow and of course all the climate news… There’s so much ripe material for the climate comedienne or satirist to work with and of course, my own country and government continue to impress with their antics around climate change and pipelines, fracking and sundry.

      As McArthur famously said, “I shall return!”


      As to your link… I tend to be pro-nuclear power but have been rethinking my position lately due to the continuing problems with Fukushima. Of course, the problem with technology is always the political machinations around any public spending or government regulation. I suspect that most if not all of the problems encountered with nuclear power technology tend to be the result of bad decisions influenced by politics, but sadly, we humans have a history of making such bad decisions.

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