Skepticism ‘Requires High Cognitive Ability, Strong Motivation To Be Rational’

New study from the University of Chicago, Illinois proves global warming skeptics are smarter and more rational than you think. Researchers find that analytic thinking is not sufficient to promote skepticism toward various unfounded beliefs. Instead, skeptics show higher analytic thinking and value epistemic rationality interactively. Cognitive ability, rather than analytic cognitive style, seems to account for these findings.

The internet is inundated with websites denouncing skeptics of man-made global warming. You don’t need to look far to get a flavor of the hate speech thrown at anyone, scientist or otherwise, asserting doubt humans are ‘dangerously’ warming mother earth. Even Pope Francis has been putting the boot in on dissenters of the 30-year-old rabid eco-religion.

But science seems to have a way of getting the last word. The paper’s authors, Tomas Ståhla and Jan-Willem van Prooijenb, write:


Why does belief in the paranormal, conspiracy theories, and various other phenomena that are not backed up by evidence remain widespread in modern society? In the present research we adopt an individual difference approach, as we seek to identify psychological precursors of skepticism toward unfounded beliefs. We propose that part of the reason why unfounded beliefs are so widespread is because skepticism requires both sufficient analytic skills, and the motivation to form beliefs on rational grounds. In Study 1 we show that analytic thinking is associated with a lower inclination to believe various conspiracy theories, and paranormal phenomena, but only among individuals who strongly value epistemic rationality. We replicate this effect on paranormal belief, but not conspiracy beliefs, in Study 2. We also provide evidence suggesting that general cognitive ability, rather than analytic cognitive style, is the underlying facet of analytic thinking that is responsible for these effects.



BBC Forced To Withdraw Fake Sea Level Claims


By Paul Homewood

Readers may recall an item on the BBC World at One back in March about rising sea levels in Florida, when their correspondent claimed that:

1) Rising seas and flooding are turning Miami Beach into a modern day Atlantis, the city being submerged by water.

2) Sea levels at Miami are rising at ten times the global rate.

I covered the story here.

I complained to the BBC at the time, and, after being fobbed off the first time, escalated the complaint to the Executive Complaints Unit, who have now published the above judgment.

Astonishingly, they regard the claims about “Atlantis” to be “soundly based”, even though they now accept that sea levels around Miami are only rising at about 8 inches a century.

Of course, they had no choice but to withdraw the ludicrous claim about “ten times the global rate”!

But why on earth does the World at One need to be reminded that they should not make scientific claims without actually checking the facts first? For that matter, why has not this instruction gone out to all news and documentary programmes and news sites as well?



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