To test for the trend amongst conservative white males, the researchers compared the demographic to "all other adults." Results showed, for instance, that 29.6 percent of conservative white males believe the effects of global warming will never happen, versus 7.4 percent of other adults. In holding for "confident" conservative white males, the study showed 48.4 percent believe global warming won't happen, versus 8.6 percent of other adults....
To understand why there is a trend amongst conservative white males, the Gallup data was cross-examined with research about the "white male effect" -- the idea that white males were either more accepting of risk or less risk averse than the rest of the public....
McCright says, up to 40 percent of all white males in the study sample believe in hierarchy, are more trusting of authority and are more conservative. Conservative white males' motivation to ignore a certain risk -- the risk of climate change in this case -- therefore, has to do with defending the status of their identity tied to the white male establishment.A few things:
1. Apparently, the "white male effect" has been studied quite a bit. I'm not surprised that studies of white males yield results that researchers characterize in negative terms. I call that the "lefty sociologist effect."
2. Look at the global warming question from the opposite side: Why are liberals less skeptical? I'd say there is more "trusting of authority" among people who accept the assertions of scientists and think government can solve this problem. And believing in climate change fits nicely with the general liberal mindset that involves enthusiasm for top-down government solutions and puts a relatively low value on preserving traditional ways.
3. McCright highlights the risk that the skeptics are willing to tolerate when they avoid taking steps to deal with the predicted climate change, but there is also risk in imposing solutions to head off problems that might not occur. Since there are risks all around, we're not really talking about differences in risk aversion. These are differences in weighting and comparing various risks.
4. The article uses the words "skepticism" and "denial" almost interchangeably, but these are actually dramatically different words. Skepticism is part of rational, scientific thought. If you don't have it, you are gullible. Denial involves an irrational resistance to evidence. McCright's study title reveals a bias: These people are in denial; what's their problem? I'd rather see a neutral study, something that seriously and fairly asked: What psychological tendencies explain the disparity in acceptance of scientific reports on climate change?