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Let's get out of the way: The scientific consensus is that genetically modified (GM) foods are harmless That did not stop people from getting controversy all around them – it was decades ago, and we still hear alarmist rhetoric about "Frankenfoods." But a new study finds that people who are The most fiercely opposed to genetically modified foods are those who know least – but think they know the most.
To draw this conclusion, the researchers surveyed a representative sample of 1,000 adults in the US Participants were asked How they are dealing with genetically modified foods, on a scale of 1 to 7, their concern and disapproval These numbers were averaged to describe What the authors called "extreme opposition". Respondents were then asked to rate their own understanding of genetically modified foods – what the researchers called "self-evaluated knowledge". Finally, they responded to a series of 15 true-false questions to test their scientific knowledge; Five of these questions were about genetics. This is useful if you want to know if you want to rely on genetically modified foods.
After the numbers became scarce, the researchers found that with increasing opposition of the participants to GM foods, the true understanding of science and genetics decreased. That is, people who are extremely anti-GM foods have the least knowledge of the science. At the same time, their self-confident knowledge was higher – they believed that they knew what they were talking about.
The figures show a familiar picture: the self-proclaimed "expert" who, despite a weak understanding of the facts about a subject, is absolutely sure. And there are more of these misguided GM food experts than you might think. The authors cite a survey by the Pew Research Center in which it was found that 88 percent of the scientists said that genetically modified food was suitable for consumption, only 37 percent of the laity agreed. This was the biggest gap for each of the problems tested.
In fact, people's attitude toward genetically modified foods seems to be something unique. Researchers asked similar questions about climate change and asked participants to rate their level of resistance and their own understanding, comparing it to what these participants actually know . They saw similar correlations between scientific competence and extreme opposition, but the relationship was much subdued, not even statistically significant. Apparently, political affiliation was a much better predictor than scientific competence.
The authors find one problem: it's easy to assume that people who only learn about genetically modified foods agree with scientists about consensus on safety. However, this research suggests a deeper problem. The people who are most against genetically modified food consider themselves experts. Getting them to change their mind means first of all to convince them that they are not as informed as they think.