Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Filtering Science through Conspiracy

By Peter Bowditch

A new study finds that people who tend to believe in conspiracies are also likely to reject a consensus of scientific opinion on issues like climate change and vaccination.

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A supposed journalist once exposed me as a member of the Illuminati, the world’s most secret secret society. The revelation was made on the website of noted kook David Icke – the man who thinks the British Royal Family are lizards. Another journalist, the editor of a high-circulation Australian “alternative” magazine, disputed the claim, not on the basis that the Illuminati doesn’t exist but because he didn’t think I was smart enough to be a member. I told him that setting membership qualifications was above my pay grade and in any case I couldn’t discuss it.

So at the risk of starting a conspiracy theory that I write about conspiracy theories to cover up my involvement in conspiracies, I’m going to write about them again.

In September I wrote about research that indicated that acceptance of one conspiracy theory was a reasonable indication of acceptance of others. This was not really surprising as a lack of critical thinking ability would be expected to generalise across various belief systems, but it was good to see some research confirming this.

The authors, Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles E. Gignac and Klaus Oberauer, have now published further research in PLoS ONE (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075637) looking at the effect of political leanings on the acceptance of some current issues that are often clouded by accusations of conspiracy – climate change...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.