Monday 10 October 2011


There's been a study recently that is being touted (e.g.) as showing that AGW denialists are more scientifically literate than those who accept AGW.

Needless to say they've got it wrong again, prejudice over-riding logic as usual.

The paper's abstract notes that:
More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased.

So how have they assessed scientific literacy? The questions are sourced from The USA's NSF Science and Engineering Indicators, the page for that is here, but I can't easily find a list of questions.

But on further perusal of the paper it seems the questions are included...

The center of the Earth is very hot [true/false].

All radioactivity is man-made [true/false].

Lasers work by focusing sound waves [true/false].

Electrons are smaller than atoms [true/false].

Does the Earth go around the Sun, or does the Sun go around the Earth?

How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun? [one day, one month, one year]

It is the father’s gene that decides whether the baby is a boy or a girl [true/false].

Antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria [true/false].

Really being able to answer 100% of those questions isn't anything to crow about. To be frank I'd only get 87.5% - the baby question - I'd have had to 50/50 that one.

It interests (and pleases) me that I seem to be an outlier, I'd describe myself as an individualist (though not hierarchical), yet I don't let my dislike of the political implications of AGW interfere with what I now know the science shows. Basically this study is irrelevant to the question of whether AGW is real, people could answer those questions 100% and still have not the foggiest about climate science.

When I thought I was being sceptical of AGW I was really being a sucker. Now I'm aspiring to be a real sceptic, which is all anyone can really do.

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