Climate change; global warming; skepticism; motivated reasoning
A large disconnect exists between the general public's acceptance of human-caused climate change and the prevailing consensus of actively publishing scientists. Previous research has examined both political and economic motivated reasoning, media influence in print and television, conspiracy ideation as a predictor of science rejection, and the role of the social construction of scientific knowledge in science rejection. Using these previously studied justifications for climate change rejection as a starting point, this research examines 212 written responses to a prompt at Climate Etc. asking the community to explain their acceptance / rejection of climate change. Using a textual content analysis, this study finds that media choice, motivated reasoning, conspiracy ideation, and the scientific construction of knowledge all play important roles in explanations for climate science rejection. Work and educational background, as well as a reframing of the scientific consensus as a "religion," add new analytical perspectives to the motivated reasoning explanations offered in prior research. This analysis also finds that the explanations for climate science denial given by respondents are often complex, falling into two or more of the explanation types suggesting that science rejection may be a more complex social process than previously thought.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Wycha, Nikilaus, "It's a Conspiracy: Motivated Reasoning and Conspiracy Ideation in the Rejection of Climate Change" (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1263.