In 2013, Stephan Lewandowsky and colleagues published a study that found a link between people's belief in conspiracy theories and rejection of climate science. Climate deniers predictably took offense and attacked the study by demonstrating, ironically enough, exactly the kind of conspiratorial thinking the paper described. So how did the authors respond? They wrote a second paper about the conspiratorial response to their original paper. Again, the climate deniers were outraged. This time, however, they successfully had the paper withdrawn (you can find the details catalogued here at Retraction Watch). Essentially, because the paper identified bloggers, it represented a legal liability for the journal as a potential breach of privacy. This, of course, doesn't make much sense considering the bloggers made their statements publicly, which indicates they had no expectation of privacy.
Regardless, the study authors have now published a third paper that avoids any mention of specific people and instead focuses on the conspiracy ideations within their statements. Once again, the paper confirms that if you're denying climate change, you're most likely using conspiracy theories (as opposed to science) as justification.
The study explains seven different forms of conspiratorial ideation that deniers use to justify their irrational rejection of human-caused climate change, including: (1) questioning the researchers' motives, (2) playing the victim card, (3) rejecting conflicting information, (4) assuming there's no such thing as coincidence, (5) insisting it's just plain wrong to have contradictory information, (6) interpreting contradictory information as supportive of conspiratorial thinking and (7) concocting elaborate counterfactuals.
If all this has left you as confused as someone who thinks carbon dioxide doesn't drive warming and the moon landing happened on a sound stage, not to worry. The authors have a helpful blog post and FAQ; The Guardian has a nice explanation of the study; Greg Laden has chronicled the whole debacle; and Sou at Hot Whopper uses WUWT comments as examples.
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