According to a new study by Psychological Science, those who believe in popular conservative free market economic theory are also more likely to not believe in science. This assertion should not come as a major surprise to any honest observer, but we now have empirical proof to support it.
The study found that Americans who endorse free-market economic theories, which argue that the “magic hand” of the free market allows the markets to regulate themselves, and that markets work better with little, if any, government intervention, are more likely to deny climate change.
Based on a survey of climate blog visitors, the research team found that Americans who endorse free-market economics are much more likely to reject other widely accepted scientific theories. This should not surprise anybody. Anybody that, after witnessing the BP oil spill, the big banks nearly imploding the global financial economy with toxic American mortgage-backed securities, and predatory health insurance companies leaving over 35,000,000 uninsured Americans to fend for themselves, still believes that big banks and multinational corporations can regulate themselves, is either intellectually dishonest or simply refusing to acknowledge reality. According to the study, “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.”
Of course, we know that most prominent free-market backers go to great lengths to fund anti-government paranoia and anti-regulatory sentiment in order to stop the government from placing stricter environmental and financial regulations on their businesses. The billionaire Koch brothers are the best example, having funded several groups that push free-market ideology in addition to groups that claim that global warming is a hoax promulgated by lefty environmentalists.
However, research as to why ordinary Americans would follow their lead and champion policies that destroy the environment and the American middle-class is relatively new. In general, social scientists agree that American conservatives tend to be skeptical of government, a trait that manifests itself in other aspects of their ideology.
This anti-government paranoia serves as an intellectual shield, one that they use to ward off Liberals when we present to them the sad reality that trickle-down Reaganomics, loose financial regulations, and a complete and utter lack of environmental regulations are destroying the environment, the environment, and middle-class.
Now, we have empirical research that proves that their aversion to facts and reality does not stem from an ideological opposition regarding a single issue, but instead manifests itself across their entire political ideology and across several key issues. Make some noise about these findings by sharing this and other related articles with your friends and family, so that we can all gain a better understanding of the conservative mindset and use this understanding to change their hearts and minds.
This Earth Day, we remind the Republicans: Climate change is no joke.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.