.A new study conducted by Yale University has found that the public apathy circling the issue of climate change has very little to do with one’s scientific literacy, and a lot to do with the existing cultural or political group a person already finds themselves within.

“The aim of the study was to test two hypotheses,” said Dan Kahan, Professor at Yale Law School and a member of the study team. “The first attributes political controversy over climate change to the public’s limited ability to comprehend science, and the second, to opposing sets of cultural values. The findings supported the second hypothesis and not the first.”

The study measured data on the climate-change risk perceptions of representative sample of 1.500 US adults  and the result suggests that public divisions over climate change stem not from the public’s incomprehension of science but from a distinctive conflict of interest: between the personal interest individuals have in forming beliefs in line with those held by others with whom they share close ties and the collective one they all share in making use of the best available science to promote common welfare

The study is funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted by researchers associated with the Cultural Cognition Program at Yale Law School. The results were consistent with studies done previously showing that individuals with more egalitarian values disagree sharply with individuals who have more individualistic ones on the risks associated with nuclear power, gun possession, and the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine for school girls.

El artículo original The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks publicado en Nature Climate Change.

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