Even if one or two WUWT deniers were endowed with reasonably high cognitive skills, evidence suggests they wouldn't value these skills and therefore don't use them. When it comes to climate science, they discard those skills in favour of one of the myriad conspiracies Anthony touts.
In the abstract of the paper itself, the authors write about how both analytical skills and motivation to be rational are required if one is to avoid adopting silly and unfounded beliefs:
We propose that part of the reason why unfounded beliefs are so widespread is because skepticism requires both sufficient analytic skills, and the motivation to form beliefs on rational grounds.It's immediately obvious to anyone who reads the articles and comments at WUWT that the bulk of Anthony's commenters lack a lot more than the motivation to be rational. Most of them lack analytical skills. Oh, there are still a few WUWT fans who can string words together to form whole sentences, but they are few and far between.
The authors continue, saying how one must not only have the ability to think analytically, one must also value that ability if one is to avoid falling for wacky conspiracy theories and ghost stories.
In Study 1 we show that analytic thinking is associated with a lower inclination to believe various conspiracy theories, and paranormal phenomena, but only among individuals who strongly value epistemic rationality. We replicate this effect on paranormal belief, but not conspiracy beliefs, in Study 2.Furthermore, their research suggested that cognitive ability is more important than cognitive style when it comes to cognition :)
We also provide evidence suggesting that general cognitive ability, rather than analytic cognitive style, is the underlying facet of analytic thinking that is responsible for these effects.I couldn't help but think of WUWT's pseudoscience ≡ style, and real research science ≡ ability.
Upside down thinking
The odd thing, and I've noticed this has been happening quite a bit at WUWT, is that Anthony Watts presents the findings of this study as being the opposite of what they are. Is his cognitive ability non-existent, or is just that he's accepted that his readers lack any analytical skill?
Anthony put forward the study as a vindication of WUWT's many and varied versions of the "climate hoax" conspiracy theory. He seems to be portraying his "climate hoax" conspiracy theory as being somehow different from the conspiracy theories that "NASA faked the moon landing", the Roswell UFO "theory", and other "theories" that have no empirical basis. This is despite the fact that the first words in Anthony's copy and pasted article were (my emphasis):
The moon landing and global warming are hoaxes. The U.S. government had advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks. A UFO crashed in Roswell, New Mexico.Toward the end of the press release, climate hoax conspiracy theories were mentioned again (my emphasis):
Is skepticism toward these kinds of unfounded beliefs just a matter of cognitive ability? Not according to new research by a University of Illinois at Chicago social psychologist.
From linking vaccines with autism to climate change skepticism, these widespread conspiracy theories and other unfounded beliefs can lead to harmful behavior, according to Ståhl.
“Many of these beliefs can, unfortunately, have detrimental consequences for individuals’ health choices, as well as for society as a whole,” he said.
Anthony Watts 'looks stupid' all by himself
Demonstrating that he doesn't value evidence, this is how Anthony headed his introduction to the press release he copied:
Skepticism ‘requires high cognitive ability, strong motivation to be rational’It doesn't take a cognitive psychologist to make fake sceptics look stupid. They do that all by themselves, just as Anthony has done today. (When Anthony writes "climate skeptics", he's referring to the hodge podge of climate science deniers who congregate at conspiracy blogs such as WUWT and Climate etc, etc.)
Anthony Watts / 22 mins ago November 14, 2017
Stephan Lewandowsky tried to make climate skeptics look stupid (by not even bothering to sample them, but impugning their beliefs as irrational from out of population samples), this study turns the tables on his execrable work and suggests that climate skeptics are both analytical and rational.
Anthony Watts, demonstrating his irrationality, thinks that research indicating conspiracy theorists don't value reason or evidence, supports some fantasy that fake sceptics are analytical and rational.
Mind you, this latest article appears just above one by Anthony's resident conspiracy theorist supreme - Tim Ball. How's that for evidence of the irrational :)
From the WUWT comments
There's more, to come. I've got to wait a bit because, once I stopped groaning, I was prompted to respond to this WUWT article before anyone at WUWT had done so.
HotScot blames it all on the company he or she keeps:
November 14, 2017 at 1:44 am
Some of the most intelligent, cognitive, analytical people I know believe in God.
Some even believe in ghosts, because they believe they have seen one.
Kurt has a sharper eye than Anthony Watts, though it may have a conspiratorial glint :)
November 14, 2017 at 1:54 am
I’d be interested to know whether the editorializing about climate change skepticism as an “unfounded belief” was in the study itself or whether it was just something added in the press release.
Eoin mac provides an illustration of someone who lacks cognitive ability (he didn't understand what the scientists found)
November 14, 2017 at 2:04 amEyal Porat points to WUWT where almost everyone disdains data and "proof", and presents it as the opposite - (deniers are weird)
Perfect example of eco activists being embedded in the view that to be sceptical of junk climate science is a result of an inability to be analytical. Ironic.
November 14, 2017 at 2:09 am
Sorry, nothing new here.
It only takes a look at comments here to realize most people require data and proof to scientific claims.
If Jarryd Beck has any cognitive ability he isn't motivated to use it at WUWT:
November 14, 2017 at 2:11 am
Did I misread something here? This seems to say that people don’t care about logic and rational thinking. That’s the exact opposite of why most people are skeptical of agw in my opinion.
AndyG55 has been taking up a lot of space at WUWT lately, mostly shouting that climate science is a hoax or similar (and flaming Nick Stokes).
November 14, 2017 at 2:21 am
I think its more that GULLIBILITY requires a lack of cognitive ability, and zero motivation to think rationally.
This comment is typical, and further illustration of the cognitive ability of AndyG55
November 14, 2017 at 2:40 am
“Can you see a pattern yet?”
Yep, I think just about everyone can now see the COOLING pattern starting to emerge.
Not you though…. that would require some cognitive ability.
(In the thread, there were a lot of similar empty protests from AndyG55.)
References and further reading
Ståhl, T, and Van Prooijen, J.-W. (2018). "Epistemic rationality: Skepticism toward unfounded beliefs requires sufficient cognitive ability and motivation to be rational." Personality and Individual Differences, 122, 155-163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.10.026 (subs req'd)
- High cognitive ability not a safeguard from conspiracies, paranormal beliefs - UIC press release, November 2017
Lewandowsky, Stephan, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, and Michael Marriott. (2015). "Recurrent fury: Conspiratorial discourse in the blogosphere triggered by research on the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial." Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3 (1). doi: 10.5964/jspp.v3i1.443. (open access)
- Curses! It's a conspiracy! The Fury is Back Thrice Over - HotWhopper article, July 2015