An interesting post at Judith Curry’s blog links to a paper by Dan Kahan and an article at DeSmog blog. Sadly, skeptics actually are rational people, who actually understand science. What’s worse, the more people understand, the more likely they are to be skeptical! Apparently the reader background link at the top of this blog where technical people left comments on their own backgrounds, is actually real!! Who knew.
Abstract: The conventional explanation for controversy over climate change emphasizes impediments to public understanding: Limited popular knowledge of science, the inability of ordinary citizens to assess technical information, and the resulting widespread use of unreliable cognitive heuristics to assess risk. A large survey of U.S. adults (N = 1540) found little support for this account. On the whole, the most scientifically literate and numerate subjects were slightly less likely, not more, to see climate change as a serious threat than the least scientifically literate and numerate ones. More importantly, greater scientific literacy and numeracy were associated with greater cultural polarization: Respondents predisposed by their values to dismiss climate change evidence became more dismissive, and those predisposed by their values to credit such evidence more concerned, as science literacy and numeracy increased. We suggest that this evidence reflects a conflict between two levels of rationality: The individual level, which is characterized by citizens’ effective use of their knowledge and reasoning capacities to form risk perceptions that express their cultural commitments; and the collective level, which is characterized by citizens’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to promote their common welfare. Dispelling this, “tragedy of the risk-perception commons,” we argue, should be understood as the central aim of the science of science communication.
The paper is not behind a paywall, thank god, and you are free to fill your minds. It does seem to be another paper trying to figure out how to communicate the need for ‘action’ to those who think ‘action’ is not the correct act, but at least they go at it from a seemingly more rational viewpoint.