Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Andrew Bolt: Smarter folk are more likely to be (climate change) sceptics

In Responses to the media, Science on October 6, 2011 at 11:40 PM

This article was originally posted at

It’s hard to ignore the heated (pardon the pun) debate regarding climate change. Whether it’s the impact humans are having on our climate (if any), whether our climate is actually changing at all, or whether the consequences (again, if any) are positive or negative overall, certain sections of the Australian media are adamant there is very, very good reason to doubt the actual experts.

While there do appear to be very clear ideological and political disparities between those of us that accept the evidence that humans are indeed causing our climate to change for the worse and at greater speed than ever before in recorded history, and those that call themselves climate sceptics, today I learned of one more important difference.

Smarter folk are more likely to be sceptics.

Shocking I know, but that was just the title of the ‘research‘ that then went on to say that

The less you know about science, the more likely you are to believe man is warming the planet dangerously.

Now I’m no scientist, and it’s hard to gauge how much I ‘know about science’ compared to the next person, but in this case the next person is Andrew Bolt, prolific media contributor with regular columns in five Australian newspapers, a heavily trafficked blog as well as duties as a talk-back radio pundit, television personality and star of the Bolt Report and, like myself, a non-scientist. Still if the above claim is true, then I guess this means that Andrew Bolt is smarter and more scientifically literate than almost every single scientist currently walking the earth!

Yet we don’t have to be scientists to read other peoples research, and Andrew has provided an abstract to back up the claim he obviously made on purely scientific grounds.

 The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: Limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones.

Now if you’re thinking that doesn’t look like an entire abstract you’re right! Andrew must of been in a rush and forgot to paste the remainder which reads:

 More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased. We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: The individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this, “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.

 To me this doesn’t at all indicate that “smarter folk are more likely to be sceptics”, but then I also believe man is warming the planet dangerously so what would I know, I’m not only no scientist, but more importantly I’m no Andrew Bolt.


Jayson D Cooke


Australian Atheists needed for Ph.D research

In Helping our community. on October 6, 2011 at 10:25 PM

A Ph.D candidate at the University of Western Syney is currently looking for Australian Atheists to take part in his Ph.D research on atheism and the new atheism. Please do not hesitate to contact him via his e-mail address ( if you are interested in adding your voice to this research or if you know anyone else that may be interested in participating.

The Rise of the New Atheism?
Alan Nixon<>
PhD Candidate
University of Western Sydney
Ethics Approval Number: H9065

What is this study about?
This study seeks to examine the importance of modern Atheism to people who are self-proclaimed ‘Atheists’. It aims to explore how people gain meaning from their Atheism. It is especially concerned with how people integrate their Atheism into their sense of who they are or their self-identity, how this affects the feeling of being part of a group and how this affects their lives. The study hopes to give people who have been affected by Atheism or the new atheism a chance to describe their experiences. It also hopes to shed light on the relationship between the current society and Atheism from the perspective of participants.

Who would I like to contribute to it?
I would like to talk to men and women aged 18+ years who are self-proclaimed Atheists or New Atheists.

What’s involved if I agree to participate?
If you agree to participate, you will be asked to be interviewed on one occasion for about 2 hours. The interview will involve discussing (in text, voice or face to face) your experiences as an Atheist and how they have affected your life. With your agreement face to face interviews will be audio-taped and transcribed. The interview can take place anywhere that you feel comfortable to talk, such as in your home or other favourite location or online (e.g. Skype or e-mail).

Please let me know what your preferred interview method will be.

Please note: Details of any illegal activities that you or others may be involved in should not be discussed with the researcher

Will the interview be confidential?
Any personally identifying information you provide is treated confidentially. We will use an alternative name (Pseudonym) to record your contribution and will also change any details that could be used to identify you. Your contact details will be kept in a locked filing cabinet separate from the interview material. Although by default we will keep your information confidential, you can request to have your details (real name) printed in the final document.

Am I able to refuse or withdraw at any time?
Participation in this research is voluntary and you can choose to stop the interview at any time without giving a reason. You can also refuse to answer specific questions. There are no consequences for withdrawing from the interview.

People to contact for information or complaints
If you have any questions about the study, you can contact the researcher, Alan Nixon on<>

If you have any concerns or complaints about the study, please contact the University of Western Sydney Human Research Ethics committee on<>