Climate change deniers not stupid, just trying to fit in, says study

A recent Yale University study funded by the National Science Foundation found that those with opposing views on climate change don’t hold those views because of insufficient scientific understanding, but because of “opposing sets of cultural values.”

To be specific, people have a rather solid foundation in science and mathematics, but they use scientific evidence to fit their cultural group’s values. In other words, global warming deniers aren’t stupid, they just want to fit in.

“In effect, ordinary members of the public credit or dismiss scientific information on disputed issues based on whether the information strengthens or weakens their ties to others who share their values,” said Dan Kahan, Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School. “At least among ordinary members of the public, individuals with higher science comprehension are even better at fitting the evidence to their group commitments.”

“More information can help solve the climate change conflict,” Kahan said, “but that information has to do more than communicate the scientific evidence. It also has to create a climate of deliberations in which no group perceives that accepting any piece of evidence is akin to betrayal of their cultural group.”

So, the next time you find yourself in the company of a global warming denier or skeptic, just remember they’re under a lot of pressure, okay?

The Yale study was published yesterday in the journal Nature.