Jon Krosnik

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Background & History

Jon Alexander Krosnick is a professor of political science, communications, and psychology and director of the Political Psychology Research Group at Stanford University. His polling conclusions on the issue of global warming have drawn criticism from Gallup and Pew Research, marking him as a biased source for polling data.

Krosnick’s work is cited most consistently by politically-left organizations, including the Center for American Progress, founded by John Podesta, a former counselor to President Barack Obama, and CAP’s house publication, Climate Progress.

Controversies

Criticism from Polling Organizations

Gallup Poll Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport wrote to The New York Times on June 16, 2010, to criticize Krosnick’s article “The Climate Majority” for giving the false impression polls showing a decline in American concern about climate change should be ignored or are incorrect.

Newport wrote, “Mr. Krosnick’s article gave the impression of an attempt to dismiss certain survey trend results because they did not fit his overall thesis.”

On June 13, 2010, Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center, also wrote to The New York Times concerning the same Krosnick article, saying, “Regarding poll findings about climate change, Mr. Krosnick posits that his question is more legitimate than others. It is but one approach and hardly ideal. The question’s preamble is “you may have heard about the idea that the world’s temperature may have been going up slowly” and then asks whether this is “probably” happening. Such wordings often encourage a positive response: this is known in the polling world as acquiescence bias.”

Utilizing faulty data for policy conclusions

In an August 14, 2008, USA Today article titled “Psychologists determine what it means to think ‘green,’” Krosnick was reported to have attended a four-day meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston. At the meeting, Krosnick reportedly said he was worried about the public’s lack of concern with climate change and suggested psychological tricks be used to change public views. Krosnick’s part in the meeting was described by USA Today’s Sharon Jayson:

News stories that provided a balanced view of climate change reduced people’s beliefs that humans are at fault and also reduced the number of people who thought climate change would be bad, according to research by Stanford social psychologist Jon Krosnick. His presentation will detail a decade of American attitudes about climate change. His new experiment, conducted in May, illustrates what he says is a public misperception about global warming. He says there is scientific consensus among experts that climate change is occurring, but the nationwide online poll of 2,600 adults asked whether they believe scientists agree or disagree about it. By editing CNN and PBS news stories so that some saw a skeptic included in the report, others saw a story in which the skeptic was edited out and another group saw no video, Krosnick found that adding 45 seconds of a skeptic to one news story caused 11% of Americans to shift their opinions about the scientific consensus. Rather than 58% believing a perceived scientific agreement, inclusion of the skeptic caused the perceived amount of agreement to drop to 47%.

Krosnick’s intention was evidently to edit out skeptics’ comments.

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