A new study shows that people with the most extreme opinions are usually the most uninformed on the subject.
Using data from a Pew Research Center poll and published in the journal Nature, researchers focused on the subject of genetically modified foods. These foods are almost unanimously considered safe to eat and they offer a wide range of benefits to farmers and food producers alike. In fact, 88 percent of scientists back them.
However, Pew found that only 37 percent of the general American population considers them to be safe. Researchers asked participants to rank their knowledge on the subject and had their scientific literacy tested. People in the US, as well as from France and Germany, were tested.
Shocking no one who has ever been on the internet, they found that people who were more strongly against them were in direct opposition with documented scientific facts and expert opinions.
Researchers concluded that these people suffer from an “illusion of knowledge.” Though it was clear that their extreme opinions were cultivated from almost zero information, the subjects firmly believed that they knew the most.
This disparity extends far outside the scientific realm, the study says.