NASA faked the moon landing--therefore, (climate) science is a hoax: an anatomy of the motivated rejection of science

Psychol Sci. 2013 May;24(5):622-33. doi: 10.1177/0956797612457686. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Although nearly all domain experts agree that carbon dioxide emissions are altering the world's climate, segments of the public remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence. Internet blogs have become a platform for denial of climate change, and bloggers have taken a prominent role in questioning climate science. We report a survey of climate-blog visitors to identify the variables underlying acceptance and rejection of climate science. Our findings parallel those of previous work and show that endorsement of free-market economics predicted rejection of climate science. Endorsement of free markets also predicted the rejection of other established scientific findings, such as the facts that HIV causes AIDS and that smoking causes lung cancer. We additionally show that, above and beyond endorsement of free markets, endorsement of a cluster of conspiracy theories (e.g., that the Federal Bureau of Investigation killed Martin Luther King, Jr.) predicted rejection of climate science as well as other scientific findings. Our results provide empirical support for previous suggestions that conspiratorial thinking contributes to the rejection of science. Acceptance of science, by contrast, was strongly associated with the perception of a consensus among scientists.

Keywords: climate science; policymaking; scientific communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blogging
  • Climate Change
  • Climatic Processes*
  • Denial, Psychological*
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Fraud / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Moon
  • Motivation / physiology*
  • Science
  • Space Flight*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration*