Scientists at the University of Oregon at Portland have revealed that anti-science views are a fairly consistent deterrent to enlightenment and exposure to scientific consensus—the prevailing views of the global community of scientists. According to an article published in the journal Science Advances, the reason for the invincibility of delusions lies in the overconfidence of opponents of science, whose knowledge is really very limited.
During the study, scientists considered seven topics that cause controversy among the public, but not among the scientific community: the safety of GMOs, climate change, the benefits of vaccination, the need for nuclear power, the ineffectiveness of homeopathy, the theory of evolution, the Big Bang theory, and attitudes towards COVID-19 .
The survey involved 3249 people who showed disagreement with the scientific consensus. They answered questions about the validity or falsity of scientific facts to assess objective knowledge, and also indicated the level of their own competence, that is, they assessed subjective knowledge.
It turned out that as the opposition to scientific consensus increases, objective knowledge decreases, but subjective knowledge increases. Participants were then given the opportunity to receive bonus payouts if they predicted their score when testing their knowledge. Those who were more opposed to scientific knowledge received fewer payouts due to the fact that they tended to think they would get a higher score than they actually did.
The scientists concluded that the key problem is overconfidence, which hinders scientific enlightenment, since people in this case have minimal motivation to learn. The result of the study does not fit into the simple scarcity model, according to which non-specialists do not have enough knowledge to recognize the scientific facts. According to one of the authors of the work, Nick Light (Nick Light), previously supporters of anti-scientific views need to be convinced that they do not have enough knowledge before presenting scientific facts.