Monday, May 28, 2012

Nature Climate Change: climate fear decreases with science literacy

Fox News has just reviewed the content of an article in Nature Climate Change:
Global warming skeptics as knowledgeable about science as climate change believers, study says (Fox)

The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks (Nature)

Dan Kahan and 6 co-authors were testing the science comprehension thesis (SCT) claiming that the people who are not worried about "climate change" are less knowledgeable about science. They gave a science quiz to 1,540 Americans who were also measured when it comes to the degree of their climate hysteria.

What are the results?

Well, the science comprehension thesis was tested – and it was ruled out. In fact, the authors found something that seems obvious to almost all TRF readers, namely that the climate fear is a decreasing function of the science literacy and numeracy.

The left graph shows the prediction of the thesis that the climate skeptics are anti-science or less educated; the right graph shows the actual measurement. Can you spot the difference? ;-)

They explained the somewhat higher scientific literacy and numeracy of the skeptics (57% of right answers in the quiz, relatively to 56% of the alarmists) by the skeptics' communication with other skeptics i.e. other people who are also smarter than the alarmists and by the alarmists' communication with other alarmists.

Well, I would guess that the actual edge of the skeptic above the alarmists is much stronger.