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Climate Skeptics Aren’t Ignorant. They’re Partisan

Yale Law School : “Deep public divisions over climate change are unrelated to differences in how well ordinary citizens understand scientific evidence on global warming, according to a new study published by Professor Dan Kahan.”  

“In fact, members of the public who score the highest on a climate-science literacy test are the most politically polarized on whether human activity is causing global temperatures to rise.”  

“These were the principal findings of a Yale-led study published recently in the journal Advances in Political Psychology .”  

“Kahan said the results justify reassessing at least some popular common science-communication strategies. ‘One conclusion is that it’s misguided to fixate on what percentage of the respondents in an opinion survey say they ‘believe in’ climate change,’ said Kahan. ‘What people say they believe about global warming is not a measure of how much they know, or even how worried they are about it; it is an expression of their cultural identities.’”  

“According to Kahan, the study also casts doubt on the value of social-marketing campaigns that feature the message that ‘97% of climate scientists’ accept human-caused climate change.”  

“‘Republicans and Democrats alike already understand that climate scientists have shown we face huge risks from global warming,’ said Kahan. ‘Just telling people that over and over — something advocacy groups have been spending millions of dollars doing for over a decade — misses the point: Positions on climate change have become symbols of whose side you are on in a cultural conflict divorced from science.’”

Topics: wonk-wire