Global Warming Skeptics as Smart as Alarmists, According to New Study

A new study has shown that despite a large promotion of the scientific community accepting the theory of global warming, those skeptical about the issue are no less knowledgeable when it comes to science.

In fact, global warming skeptics scored higher marks in a study that asked 1,540 Americans several science questions, such as "Electrons are smaller than atoms -- true or false?" "How long does it take the Earth to go around the Sun? One day, one month, or one year?" and "Lasers work by focusing sound waves -- true or false?"

The results of the quiz, posted this Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, found that respondents who are less worried about global warming got 57 percent of the questions right, while 56 percent of those fully on board with the theory answered correctly.

"Seeming public apathy over climate change is often attributed to a deficit in comprehension. The public knows too little science, it is claimed, to understand the evidence or avoid being misled. Widespread limits on technical reasoning aggravate the problem by forcing citizens to use unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk," a summary of the study states. "We conducted a study to test this account and found no support for it."

The paper, funded by the National Science Foundation, was not intended to validate or disproove climate change claims, but simply to test how those who have an opinion on the issue fare in various other scientific questions.

"This study is agnostic on what people ought to believe," Yale Law Professor and lead author of the study Dan Kahan told "It just doesn't follow to say this finding implies anything about what people should believe on this issue."

Another important find from the study that Kahan noted was that people who value individualism were less concerned about global warming, while those believing in equality were highly concerned.

"Kahan's research is so interesting," added Aaron Huertas, a spokesman for the Union of Concerned Scientists. "Over the last few years, the policy issues surrounding climate change have become increasingly politicized, and that's bleeding over into people's perceptions of climate science."

"What we need to remember is that we have a number of excellent non-partisan scientific resources… [They] all tell us that human activity is altering the climate in ways that are disruptive to our economy and way of life," Huertas said.

The study concludes: "This result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public's incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare."

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