Those who oppose science believe that their knowledge is of the highest rank, but in reality it is of the lowest rank.
People who are most against scientific consensus tend to have the lowest levels of objective scientific knowledge and the highest levels of self-assessed knowledge, according to a new study published in . scientific progressThis finding is consistent with the Dunning-Kruger effect, a well-documented phenomenon whereby people with deficient skills and knowledge tend to overestimate their own abilities.
“Science is so important to the well-being of society and the environment that we are interested in understanding it in the general public,” said study author Nick Wright, an assistant professor of marketing at Portland State University. “When people act in ways that go against good science, people get sick, lose their homes, lose money, displace, and even die (as is the case with COVID, natural disasters, etc.). The better we understand why people behave in ways that go against the scientific consensus, the better scientists and policy makers can design interventions to help people.”
In two initial studies involving 3,249 US adults recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk and Prolific Academic, participants were randomly assigned to indicate their level of support or opposition to one of seven scientific questions. It was: climate change, genetically modified food, nuclear power, vaccination, evolution, the big bang, or homeopathic medicine. Participants were asked to rate their understanding of the topic on his 7-point scale from “vague understanding” to “good understanding”.
To assess their scientific knowledge, participants answered 34 randomly ordered true-false questions. Questions covered a wide range of scientific topics, such as “true or false?” The center of the earth is very hot” “True or false? Every insect has her eight legs” and “True or false? Venus is the closest planet to the sun.”
Wright and his research team found that those who disagreed with the scientific consensus on a given topic were more likely to claim that they “understood” it completely. Those who disagreed tended to score worse on tests of objective scientific knowledge.
“Scientists are constantly debating how best to explain the world around us,” Wright told PsyPost. There are times when people agree on something, that is what we call the scientific consensus, and in this paper, people who take attitudes that are extremely against the scientific consensus are the most likely to agree on scientific issues. You think you know a lot, but it turns out that you actually know very little.”
Researchers also found some evidence that political polarization can weaken these relationships. For more politically polarized issues, the relationship between opposition to scientific consensus and objective knowledge was less negative.
“The main caveat is that while the effects of this pattern appear to be fairly common, they don’t apply to all problems,” said Light. “He’s one prominent example is climate change. Our next step is to delve deeper into psychology and try to figure out why we don’t see these effects on some problems. includes that.”
In a third study of 1,173 US adults, participants were given the opportunity to bet on whether they would score above average on an objective test of scientific knowledge. In line with previous research, Wright and his colleagues found that participants who disagreed with the scientific consensus tended to earn less because of overconfidence in knowledge.
In a fourth study involving 501 participants, researchers examined whether knowledge overconfidence was associated with willingness to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Conducted in July. Participants were asked if they were willing to be vaccinated in the future and assessed their understanding of how the COVID-19 vaccine works.
Participants then completed a 23-question test of scientific knowledge. The test included six of his items on COVID-19, including “right or wrong.” COVID-19 is a bacterium” and “True or false? COVID-19 can be transmitted through house flies.”
Wright and his colleagues found that participants who were against vaccination were more likely to report having a better understanding of how the COVID-19 vaccine works, but that science and COVID I’ve found that general knowledge about -19 tends to be worse.
A fifth survey of 695 participants conducted in September 2020 found a similar pattern of results regarding COVID-19 mitigation policies. Results held even after controlling for political identity.
The researchers said the findings have some practical implications for science communicators and policy makers.
“Given that the most extreme opponents of scientific consensus tend to be those who are most overconfident in their knowledge, fact-based educational interventions are likely to be ineffective for this audience. “For example, the Ad Council conducted one of the largest public education campaigns in history to persuade people to get the COVID-19 vaccine. If they already think they know everything there is to know about vaccination and COVID-19, the campaign is unlikely to convince them.”
The study, “Knowledge Overconfidence is Associated with Opposed Consensus Views on Controversial Scientific Questions,” was authored by Nicholas Wright, Philip M. Farnbach, Nathaniel Love, Mugher V. Gina, and Stephen A. Sloman. I was.