Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial

Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott


A growing body of evidence has implicated conspiracist ideation in the rejection of scientific propositions. Internet blogs in particular have become the staging ground for conspiracy theories that challenge the link between HIV and AIDS, the benefits of vaccinations, or the reality of climate change. A recent study involving visitors to climate blogs found that conspiracist ideation was associated with the rejection of climate science and other scientific propositions such as the link between lung cancer and smoking, and between HIV and AIDS. That article stimulated considerable discursive activity in the climate blogosphere—i.e., the numerous blogs dedicated to climate “skepticism”—that was critical of the study. The blogosphere discourse was ideally suited for analysis because its focus was clearly circumscribed, it had a well-defined onset, and it largely discontinued after several months. We identify and classify the hypotheses that questioned the validity of the paper’s conclusions using well-established criteria for conspiracist ideation. In two behavioral studies involving naive participants we show that those criteria and classifications were reconstructed in a blind test. Our findings extend a growing body of literature that has examined the important, but not always constructive, role of the blogosphere in public and scientific discourse.


rejection of science; conspiracist discourse; climate denial; Internet blogs

Full Text: PDF HTML
Downloads: 8548

Articles citing this article (data provided by Crossref)

  • Stephan Lewandowsky, Michael E. Mann, Nicholas J. L. Brown, Harris Friedman (2016)
    Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism
    Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 4(2), p. 537(ff.)
    doi: 10.5964/jspp.v4i2.604
  • Seth D. Baum (2016)
    On the promotion of safe and socially beneficial artificial intelligence
    doi: 10.1007/s00146-016-0677-0
  • Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Elisabeth Lloyd (2016)
    The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism
    doi: 10.1007/s11229-016-1198-6
  • John Cook, Stephan Lewandowsky (2016)
    Rational Irrationality: Modeling Climate Change Belief Polarization Using Bayesian Networks
    Topics in Cognitive Science, 8(1), p. 160(ff.)
    doi: 10.1111/tops.12186

Comments on this article

View all comments

Creative Commons License
ISSN: 2195-3325
PsychOpen Logo