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Study: Climate Skeptics Know More About Global Warming

A soon to be published study in the journal Advances in Political Psychology found that skeptics of man-made global warming scored slightly better on questions about climate science than people who believe that humans are causing irreversible warming.

Yale psychology professor Dan Kahan asked 2,000 respondents nine questions on where scientists stood on global warming. Those who were skeptical of global warming got 4.5 questions right on average, compared to global warming believers who got four questions right.

Kahan said in his study that the debate over global warming has become so politically driven that people pick their sides based on political leanings rather than what they perceive the science to actually be.

“The position someone adopts on [global warming] conveys who she is – whose side she’s on, in a hate-filled, anxiety-stoked competition for status between opposing cultural groups,” writes Kahan.

“It is really pretty intuitive: who wouldn’t be insulted by someone screaming in her face that she and everyone she identifies with ‘rejects science?’” Kahan adds.

Over the years, the public has become increasingly skeptical of claims made by climate scientists and environmentalists that human activities are destroying the planet. A recent CNN poll found that 57 percent of Americans don’t see global warming as a threat to their lives.

A recent Pew Research Center poll found that there is a 37 percentage point gap between the public’s and scientists’s beliefs on global warming. Only 50 percent of Americans thought global warming was mainly caused by humans, compared to 87 percent of scientists who said warming was primarily man-made.

Pew also found that tackling global warming ranked second-to-last on Americans’ choices of what policy priorities President Barack Obama should pursue. Global warming ranked higher than global trade, but below things like scientific research and fighting terrorism.

Kahan’s study should come as no surprise, as a 2012 study found that global warming skeptics knew just as much about science as believers. Unlike the past study, Kahan’s specifically asked questions about global warming science.

“It’s easy to believe in the religion of global warming,” Roy Spencer, a climate scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, told FoxNews.com. “It takes critical thinking skills to question it.”

For example, Kahan found that skeptics were more likely than believers to know that global warming would not “increase the risk of skin cancer.” Skeptics were also more likely to correctly answer that if the Arctic melted, it would not cause sea levels to rise.

Global warming believers, on the other hand, were more likely to correctly answer the question, “What gas do most scientists believe causes temperatures to rise?” The correct answer is carbon dioxide, a naturally occurring greenhouse gas that is also emitted by burning fossil fuels.

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