The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism
Synthese 195 (1):175-196 (2018)
AbstractScience strives for coherence. For example, the findings from climate science form a highly coherent body of knowledge that is supported by many independent lines of evidence: greenhouse gas emissions from human economic activities are causing the global climate to warm and unless GHG emissions are drastically reduced in the near future, the risks from climate change will continue to grow and major adverse consequences will become unavoidable. People who oppose this scientific body of knowledge because the implications of cutting GHG emissions—such as regulation or increased taxation—threaten their worldview or livelihood cannot provide an alternative view that is coherent by the standards of conventional scientific thinking. Instead, we suggest that people who reject the fact that the Earth’s climate is changing due to greenhouse gas emissions oppose whatever inconvenient finding they are confronting in piece-meal fashion, rather than systematically, and without considering the implications of this rejection to the rest of the relevant scientific theory and findings. Hence, claims that the globe “is cooling” can coexist with claims that the “observed warming is natural” and that “the human influence does not matter because warming is good for us.” Coherence between these mutually contradictory opinions can only be achieved at a highly abstract level, namely that “something must be wrong” with the scientific evidence in order to justify a political position against climate change mitigation. This high-level coherence accompanied by contradictory subordinate propositions is a known attribute of conspiracist ideation, and conspiracism may be implicated when people reject well-established scientific propositions.
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Citations of this work
How to balance Balanced Reporting and Reliable Reporting.Mikkel Gerken - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (10):3117-3142.
What is epistemically wrong with research affected by sponsorship bias? The evidential account.Alexander Reutlinger - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (2):1-26.
Trust Me: News, Credibility Deficits, and Balance.Carrie Figdor - 2018 - In Joe Saunders & Carl Fox (eds.), Media Ethics, Free Speech, and the Requirements of Democracy. New York, USA and Abingdon, UK: Routledge. pp. 69-86.
Influence and Seepage: An Evidence-Resistant Minority Can Affect Public Opinion and Scientific Belief Formation.Stephan Lewandowsky, Toby D. Pilditch, Jens K. Madsen, Naomi Oreskes & James S. Risbey - 2019 - Cognition 188:124-139.
Conspiracist Cognition: Chaos, Convenience, and Cause for Concern.Stephan Lewandowsky - 2021 - Journal for Cultural Research 25 (1):12-35.
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