The following research claims that there is a link between one being a strong free market supporter and being more likely to reject scientific claims:

Paralleling previous work, we find that endorsement of a laissez-faire conception of free-market economics predicts rejection of climate science (r ' :80 between latent constructs).

NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science (PDF)

Psychology Professor Stephan Lewandowsky claims that he has found a link between such beliefs and rejecting things like smoking causes cancer or climate change is real or in believing that the moon landing was a hoax.

I'm wondering if his research holds up to close scrutiny? Does this appear to be real science? Some of his posts appear to be somewhat inflammatory and self-referentially serving to prove his assertion to me which gives me some question: Confirming the obvious

The original paper has a recursive follow up here wherein the author notes the conspiracy theories claimed about the first paper.

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    I've fixed your question: the researcher is not claiming at all that one causes the other, but that one correlates to the other (they could have a common cause). "Predicts" is statistical lingo for correlation.
    – Sklivvz
    Sep 7, 2012 at 20:33
  • Shouldn't this be tagged "united-states"? I really doubt any of this translates into other countries politics.
    – vartec
    Sep 9, 2012 at 21:06
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    As usual @matt_black doesn't give a balanced account. The recursive Fury was not retracted because of any academic or ethical issue, but because the publisher was concerned about legal action being taken against it by a small number of complainants. I.e. the freedom of academic journal publication was being curtailed by threats of legal action journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00293/full, although they later ammended this following widespread criticism for caving in frontiersin.org/blog/…
    – user18604
    Aug 7, 2014 at 10:24
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    The quoted material does not say it correlates with rejection of "scientific claims" in general. It says it correlates with rejection of climate science in particular. Could you please quote the place where this paper makes a claim about general rejection of all forms of science, rather than rejection of specific scientific claims that are associated with political identity?
    – paradisi
    May 1, 2016 at 16:20
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    We have only certain science here. Right-wingers are more likely to reject anthropogenic climate change. As noted elsewhere, there is also some established science that left-wingers are more likely to reject.
    – GEdgar
    May 1, 2016 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


tl;dr: Yes, being a strong laissez-faire free-market supporter is correlated with rejecting some specific science

The Lewandowsky study looks at the attitudes of people who read climate blogs, and does indeed find a positive correlation between those who support a laisssz-faire (i.e. unregulated) view of free markets, and who reject specific areas of well-established science, such as anthropogenic climate change and that smoking tobacco causes cancers.

So, it does not address the issue of people generally: it specifically addresses attitudes of one self-selecting sub-group.

Other studies have looked at other sub-groups, and come to very similar conclusions. As Lewandowsky et al note:

"There is little doubt that people's personal ideology also often referred to as worldview or cultural cognition is a major predictor of the rejection of climate science"

which they substantiate with citations of several other papers:

  • Party-political allegiance in the USA

    • Dunlap, R. E., & McCright, A. M. (2008). A widening gap: Republican and Democratic views on climate change. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 50 (5), 26-35.
    • McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2003). Defeating Kyoto: The conservative movement's impact on U.S. climate change policy. Social Problems, 50 , 348-373. (pdf)
    • McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2010). Anti-reflexivity: The American conservative movement's success in undermining climate science and policy. Theory Culture & Society, 27 , 100-133. (pdf) DOI:10.1177/0263276409356001
  • Politics generally

    • Hamilton, L. C. (2011). Education, politics and opinions about climate change evidence for interaction effects. Climatic Change, 104 , 231-242. DOI:10.1007/s10584-010-9957-8
    • Heath, Y., & Giord, R. (2006). Free-market ideology and environmental degradation: The case of belief in global climate change. Environment and Behavior, 38 , 48-71. (pdf) DOI:10.1177/0013916505277998
    • Feygina, I., Jost, J. T., & Goldsmith, R. E. (2010). System justification, the denial of global warming, and the possibility of "system-sanctioned change". Social Psychology Bulletin, 36 , 326-338. DOI:10.1177/0146167209351435
    • Kahan, D. M., Jenkins-Smith, H., & Braman, D. (2011). Cultural cognition of scientic consensus. Journal of Risk Research, 14 , 147-174. (video)
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    @WilliamKF, I wonder if the same stringent methodologies used here apply to his findings? skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/9118/…
    – user1873
    Sep 8, 2012 at 9:32
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    No, I'm not: I'm citing seven other papers that support Lewandowsky's conclusions, for different sub-groups. If you can suggest an edit that would make it clearer than it already is, please do so.
    – 410 gone
    Sep 8, 2012 at 10:54
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    I would suggest that you actually show what those cited papers claimed, instead of just saying, "Lewandowsky et al notes ... which they substantiate with citations of several other papers" . For example, your 2nd and 3rd references have absolutly zilch to do with free market supporters and rejection of scientific claims. Did you even read them (never mind tl;dr;)
    – user1873
    Sep 8, 2012 at 11:32
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    in addition to the other issues mentioned, it doesn't seem this answer addresses he question. you seem to be trying to prove that various personal views effect rather one accepts climat change. The question was rather a specific view affects one's belief in all form of science. because a general trend exist with personal views effecting refutation of climat change doesn't mean one specific view is correlated to refuting climat change. and you didn't address other forms of regjection like the smoking leads to cancer relationship.
    – dsollen
    Sep 10, 2012 at 21:48
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    @dsollen: The original question doesn't provide a source for the claim that "a specific view affects one's belief in all form of science," so if that is the question, it would be off-topic. The quoted material refers to "rejection of climate science," and the summary of the other material refers to " rejecting things like smoking causes cancer or climate change is real or in believing that the moon landing was a hoax." These are all specific examples; there's no evidence here that anyone is making the claim that being a strong free market supporter predicts rejection of all science.
    – paradisi
    May 3, 2016 at 17:05

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