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Climate Skepticism Not Rooted in Science Illiteracy

from Science News

People who strongly resist data indicating that human-induced climate change could spell catastrophe aren't ignorant about science or numerical reasoning. Quite the opposite, a new study finds: High science literacy actually boosts the likelihood that certain people will challenge what constitutes credible climate science.

Who will be receptive to climate science, the study found, depends more on cultural factors such as attitudes toward commerce, government regulation and individualism than on scientific literacy. "Simply improving the clarity of scientific information will not dispel public conflict" over climate, the study's authors conclude online May 27 in Nature Climate Change.

There has been a prevalent view among scientists that skeptics of climate change and its ramifications would come around if they understood the facts, says Dan Kahan of Yale Law School. But studies by his group and others have shown that cultural factors can strongly influence what people accept as truth about certain technical issues.

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