Anti-GMO Folks Know Least About General Food Science, According to Research


  • David Prasad/FlickrCC

Here's a fun little food story for a cold Monday morning.

According to new research published in the Nature Human Behavior journal, people who have strong anti-GMO feelings are more likely to hold incorrect beliefs about scientific food facts.

Towns like Cleveland have dealt with the discussion and trend in recent years, hauling science and quasi-science and that's-not-science-at-all into the public conversation.

The study itself wasn't about the science behind GMOs, which experts have widely declared to be safe, but rather the feelings and knowledge of those who espouse strong opinions that GMOs are dangerous.

In this case, 2,000 respondents were queried about genetically modified foods. They were then addressed with true or false questions on basic science and food science. A relationship between fervor against GMOs and a level of ineptitude in knowing scientific facts was found.

"The paper's key finding is that the more strongly people report being opposed to GM foods, the more knowledgeable they think they are on the topic, but the lower they score on an actual knowledge test," reported Science Daily.

As NPR pointed out, the study is another data point on the science/consumer trend question that suggests when we think we know a whole lot about something and care about it deeply, we're then sometimes not inclined to actually learn about what we're talking and caring about.

"This result is perverse, but is consistent with previous research on the psychology of extremism," said Phil Fernbach, the study's lead author, according to Science Daily. "Extreme views often stem from people feeling they understand complex topics better than they do."

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