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

Abstract


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.

Keywords


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

Full Text: PDF HTML
Downloads: 28492

https://doi.org/10.5964/jspp.v3i1.443

Array ( [0] => Array ( [FORWARD_LINK] => ) [1] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1467-8721 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Current Directions in Psychological Science [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Curr Dir Psychol Sci [ARTICLE_TITLE] => The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [0] => Karen M. Douglas [1] => Robbie M. Sutton [2] => Aleksandra Cichocka ) [VOLUME] => 26 [ISSUE] => 6 [FIRST_PAGE] => 538 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1177/0963721417718261 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [2] => Array ( [BOOK_CITE] => [ISBN] => 978-1-137-59291-0 [VOLUME_TITLE] => The Palgrave Handbook of African Philosophy [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [3] => Edwin Etieyibo ) [FIRST_PAGE] => 633 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [COMPONENT_NUMBER] => Chapter 41 [DOI] => 10.1057/978-1-137-59291-0_41 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [3] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1467-9221 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Political Psychology [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Political Psychology [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Understanding Conspiracy Theories [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [4] => Karen M. Douglas [5] => Joseph E. Uscinski [6] => Robbie M. Sutton [7] => Aleksandra Cichocka [8] => Turkay Nefes [9] => Chee Siang Ang [10] => Farzin Deravi ) [VOLUME] => 40 [ISSUE] => S1 [FIRST_PAGE] => 3 [YEAR] => 2019 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1111/pops.12568 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [4] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1467-9280 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Psychological Science [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Psychol Sci [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Nothing Happens by Accident, or Does It? A Low Prior for Randomness Does Not Explain Belief in Conspiracy Theories [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [11] => Sebastian Dieguez [12] => Pascal Wagner-Egger [13] => Nicolas Gauvrit ) [VOLUME] => 26 [ISSUE] => 11 [FIRST_PAGE] => 1762 [YEAR] => 2015 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1177/0956797615598740 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [5] => Array ( [BOOK_CITE] => [ISBN] => 978-3-319-40796-8 [VOLUME_TITLE] => Themes, Issues and Problems in African Philosophy [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [14] => Kevin Behrens ) [FIRST_PAGE] => 191 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [COMPONENT_NUMBER] => Chapter 13 [DOI] => 10.1007/978-3-319-40796-8_13 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [6] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1467-9280 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Psychological Science [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Psychol Sci [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Debunking: A Meta-Analysis of the Psychological Efficacy of Messages Countering Misinformation [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [15] => Man-pui Sally Chan [16] => Christopher R. Jones [17] => Kathleen Hall Jamieson [18] => Dolores Albarracín ) [VOLUME] => 28 [ISSUE] => 11 [FIRST_PAGE] => 1531 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1177/0956797617714579 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [7] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1932-6203 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => PLOS ONE [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => PLoS ONE [ARTICLE_TITLE] => On the Viability of Conspiratorial Beliefs [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [19] => David Robert Grimes [20] => Chris T. Bauch ) [VOLUME] => 11 [ISSUE] => 1 [FIRST_PAGE] => e0147905 [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1371/journal.pone.0147905 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [8] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1552-6526 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Journal of Language and Social Psychology [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Journal of Language and Social Psychology [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Translating Science [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [21] => Janice L. Krieger [22] => Cindy Gallois ) [VOLUME] => 36 [ISSUE] => 1 [FIRST_PAGE] => 3 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1177/0261927X16663256 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [9] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 00100277 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Cognition [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Cognition [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Influence and seepage: An evidence-resistant minority can affect public opinion and scientific belief formation [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [23] => Stephan Lewandowsky [24] => Toby D. Pilditch [25] => Jens K. Madsen [26] => Naomi Oreskes [27] => James S. Risbey ) [VOLUME] => 188 [FIRST_PAGE] => 124 [YEAR] => 2019 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1016/j.cognition.2019.01.011 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [10] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1435-5655 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => AI & SOCIETY [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => AI & Soc [ARTICLE_TITLE] => On the promotion of safe and socially beneficial artificial intelligence [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [28] => Seth D. Baum ) [VOLUME] => 32 [ISSUE] => 4 [FIRST_PAGE] => 543 [YEAR] => 2017 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1007/s00146-016-0677-0 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [11] => Array ( [BOOK_CITE] => [ISSN] => 00652601 [ISBN] => 9780128146897 [SERIES_TITLE] => Advances in Experimental Social Psychology [VOLUME] => 57 [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [29] => Bastiaan T. Rutjens [30] => Steven J. Heine [31] => Robbie M. Sutton [32] => Frenk van Harreveld ) [FIRST_PAGE] => 125 [YEAR] => 2018 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1016/bs.aesp.2017.08.001 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [12] => Array ( [BOOK_CITE] => [ISSN] => 2475-6830 [ISBN] => 9781522585374 [SERIES_TITLE] => Advances in Media, Entertainment, and the Arts [VOLUME_TITLE] => Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [33] => John Cook ) [FIRST_PAGE] => 281 [YEAR] => 2019 [COMPONENT_NUMBER] => chapter 16 [DOI] => 10.4018/978-1-5225-8535-0.ch016 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [13] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1556-5068 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => SSRN Electronic Journal [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => SSRN Journal [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Convulsive Flurry: Conspiracy, Consensus, Motivation: A Corollary to Lewandowsky et al (2015) [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [34] => Michelle Stirling ) [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.2139/ssrn.2766823 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [14] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1532-5946 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Memory & Cognition [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Mem Cogn [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Science by social media: Attitudes towards climate change are mediated by perceived social consensus [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [35] => Stephan Lewandowsky [36] => John Cook [37] => Nicolas Fay [38] => Gilles E. Gignac ) [YEAR] => 2019 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.3758/s13421-019-00948-y [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [15] => Array ( [BOOK_CITE] => [ISSN] => 2197-716X [ISBN] => 978-3-030-16107-1 [SERIES_TITLE] => Contributions to Management Science [VOLUME_TITLE] => Toward a Better Understanding of Rule-Breaking Market Behavior [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [39] => Ann-Kathrin Veenendaal ) [FIRST_PAGE] => 115 [YEAR] => 2019 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [COMPONENT_NUMBER] => Chapter 3 [DOI] => 10.1007/978-3-030-16107-1_3 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [16] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 2195-3325 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Journal of Social and Political Psychology [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => J. Soc. Polit. Psych. [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [40] => Stephan Lewandowsky [41] => Michael E. Mann [42] => Nicholas J. L. Brown [43] => Harris Friedman ) [VOLUME] => 4 [ISSUE] => 2 [FIRST_PAGE] => 537 [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.5964/jspp.v4i2.604 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [17] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1467-8721 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Current Directions in Psychological Science [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Curr Dir Psychol Sci [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Motivated Rejection of Science [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [44] => Stephan Lewandowsky [45] => Klaus Oberauer ) [VOLUME] => 25 [ISSUE] => 4 [FIRST_PAGE] => 217 [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1177/0963721416654436 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [18] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 0749596X [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Journal of Memory and Language [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Journal of Memory and Language [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Polarity and attitude effects in the continued-influence paradigm [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [46] => Andrew Gordon [47] => Ullrich K.H. Ecker [48] => Stephan Lewandowsky ) [VOLUME] => 108 [FIRST_PAGE] => 104028 [ITEM_NUMBER] => 104028 [YEAR] => 2019 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1016/j.jml.2019.104028 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [19] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 2206-3374 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Communication Research and Practice [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Communication Research and Practice [ARTICLE_TITLE] => The elective affinity between post-truth communication and populist politics [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [49] => Silvio Waisbord ) [VOLUME] => 4 [ISSUE] => 1 [FIRST_PAGE] => 17 [YEAR] => 2018 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1080/22041451.2018.1428928 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [20] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 17568757 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Topics in Cognitive Science [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Top Cogn Sci [ARTICLE_TITLE] => Rational Irrationality: Modeling Climate Change Belief Polarization Using Bayesian Networks [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [50] => John Cook [51] => Stephan Lewandowsky ) [VOLUME] => 8 [ISSUE] => 1 [FIRST_PAGE] => 160 [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1111/tops.12186 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [21] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1573-0964 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => Synthese [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => Synthese [ARTICLE_TITLE] => The ‘Alice in Wonderland’ mechanics of the rejection of (climate) science: simulating coherence by conspiracism [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [52] => Stephan Lewandowsky [53] => John Cook [54] => Elisabeth Lloyd ) [VOLUME] => 195 [ISSUE] => 1 [FIRST_PAGE] => 175 [YEAR] => 2018 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.1007/s11229-016-1198-6 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => ) [22] => Array ( [JOURNAL_CITE] => [ISSN] => 1556-5068 [JOURNAL_TITLE] => SSRN Electronic Journal [JOURNAL_ABBREVIATION] => SSRN Journal [ARTICLE_TITLE] => On the Promotion of Safe and Socially Beneficial Artificial Intelligence [CONTRIBUTORS] => [CONTRIBUTOR] => [GIVEN_NAME] => Array ( [55] => Seth D. Baum ) [YEAR] => 2016 [PUBLICATION_TYPE] => full_text [DOI] => 10.2139/ssrn.2816323 [FORWARD_LINK] => [BODY] => [QUERY_RESULT] => [CROSSREF_RESULT] => ) )

Citations:




Creative Commons License
ISSN: 2195-3325
PsychOpen Logo