Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin. Photograph: NASA/AP
New research finds that sceptics also tend to support conspiracy theories such as the moon landing being faked
It’s time to come clean: climate change is a hoax. And the moon landings were faked, 9/11 was an inside job, and the CIA is hiding the identity of the gunman on the grassy knoll.
It might seem odd to lump climate change – a scientific theory supported by thousands of peer-reviewed papers and hundreds of independent lines of evidence – with conspiracy theories like these. But new researchto be published in a forthcoming issue of Psychological Science has found a link between the endorsement of conspiracy theories and the rejection of established facts about climate science.
In a survey of more than 1,000 readers of websites related to climate change, people who agreed with free market economic principles and endorsed conspiracy theories were more likely to dispute that human-caused climate change was a reality.
Stephen Lewandowsky and his colleagues at the University of Western Australia posted a link to an online questionnaire on eight climate-related blogs with a diverse readership, in order to capture people’s views about economics, science and conspiracy theories. Five “sceptic” (or “sceptic-leaning”) blogs were also approached but declined to post the link – interesting in and of itself, given the frequent claim that sceptical views are excluded from mainstream debates.
What they found was remarkable. People who endorsed conspiracy theories such as “9/11 was an inside job” and “the moon landings were faked”, were also more likely to reject established scientific facts about climate change, such as “I believe that the burning of fossil fuels on the scale observed over the last 50 years has increased atmospheric temperatures to an appreciable degree.”