Climate change denial and beliefs about science

Synthese 198 (3):2355-2374 (2019)
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Social scientists have offered a number of explanations for why Americans commonly deny that human-caused climate change is real. In this paper, I argue that these explanations neglect an important group of climate change deniers: those who say they are on the side of science while also rejecting what they know most climate scientists accept. I then develop a “nature of science” hypothesis that does account for this group of deniers. According to this hypothesis, people have serious misconceptions about what scientific inquiry ought to look like. Their misconceptions interact with partisan biases to produce denial of human-caused climate change. After I develop this hypothesis, I propose ways of confirming that it is true. Then I consider its implications for efforts to combat climate change denial and for other cases of public rejection of science.



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Karen Kovaka
University of Pennsylvania

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