Do you deny Climate Change? Do you think the Illuminati are plotting a New World Order? Do you believe that there are top-secret planes spraying chemicals into the atmosphere in order to use the HAARP program for world domination? If you believe one of these, you likely believe them all, new research finds.
The next issue of Psychological Science includes a piece on how the disbelief of climate change is found among the same people who also believe other conspiracy theories. The fact that climate change is backed by thousands of peer-reviewed research papers with gigabytes upon gigabytes of data to back it up means nothing to them. They put it with conspiracies that have no credible evidence, many times with only some blogger or YouTube video proclaiming it as true.
What the researchers did was to survey the readers of eight websites discussing climate change. The questionnaire was taken by a wide variety of readers, with over 1000 people returning their survey. What their research uncovered was that those who disbelieved in climate change being human-caused also were likely to endorse conspiracy theories as well as support laissez-faire free-market economic concepts.
Five climate skeptic websites were also approached but turned down the opportunity. Being that these websites often times claim that their views are excluded from mainstream debates, this is remarkable in and of itself.
In response after response, they found that if a person believed in conspiracies, such as the moon landings being faked, that the CIA killed the Rev. Martin-Luther King Jr, or that cigarettes do not cause cancer; and it did not matter the conspiracy either, from HIV conspiracies to 9/11, if one could fall into a belief of such conspiracy, they were likely to be victim to multiple.
By focusing on this narrow group, of people who frequent active climate-related websites, the researchers were able to gain a large cross-section of those who deny climate change as well as the control group of those who do follow the facts regarding the issue. Through this, the paper effectively uncovered that those who are willing to believe in conspiracies without facts in one case lack critical thinking skills.
Their adherence to laissez-faire markets is also telling. The historically proven failures of the laissez-faire system, with its regular cycle of booms and busts, are lost on these people. They believe with all of their hearts the fantasy that the invisible hand of the market will resolve all problems. This of course flies in the fact of history, which demonstrates that those with power will abuse it.
The paper reveals that people who reject climate change are doing it not out of any scientific basis, or even out of skepticism. They are rejecting it based on ideological principle only. As a result, arguing with them using only logic, or facts, will never work. Instead you need to use a different tactic.
So, what should one do if facing one of these conspiracy theorists? The paper gives some suggestions. One, do not call them deniers, or say that they are denying anything. Denial is a term used in science, and using it gives them the feeling of legitimacy. Instead, call it what it is, “Rejection of Science.” Two, do not rebuttal the individual conspiracy, but instead issue rebuttals to multiple simultaneously. Because they adhere to multiple conspiracies, the conflicts between them are often times ignored, so to bring multiple up at once can hurt the whole mindset itself. Lastly, affirm a small subset of the conspiracy, the kernel of truth they reinforce the lies with, which gives them also the avenue out of the mindset.
Politically motivated private interests who seek to exploit them for their own gain have wildly adopted conspiracy theories. Those who adhere to the conspiracies are slaves of their own ignorance, and cannot see their own enslavement. And there are those who will always seek to ensnare more in this mind-trap.