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Doubting pop science journalism doesn’t mean you don’t know your science


Just as, it turns out, liberalism is no guarantee of science literacy, it turns out that – on one issue, climate change – people who doubt the climate change apocalypse are about as knowledgeable about science as those who embrace it.

They were all asked 22 questions like these:

“Electrons are smaller than atoms — true or false?”

“How long does it take the Earth to go around the Sun? One day, one month, or one year?”

“Lasers work by focusing sound waves — true or false?”


The quiz, containing 22 questions about both science and statistics, was given to 1,540 representative Americans. Respondents who were relatively less worried about global warming got 57 percent of them right, on average, just barely outscoring those whose who saw global warming as a bigger threat. They got 56 percent of the questions correct.

The take-home point is that science journalists who are convinced that they have a message that the world needs to hear should forego assuming that people who doubt whatever it is are simply not science literate. There could be other reasons.

For example, this. Or this. Or this.

Here’s a thought: If you want to be believed, try being believable. Sure wouldn’t hurt.


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