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Because the world needs another opinion

A Reasoned Rejection of Science, Explaining the Tragedy of Data to the Experts

Posted by Jeff Id on January 20, 2013

Ex-spurt is a commonly misunderstood term.   The true definition of Ex-spurt is, “A drip under pressure”, or perhaps in past tense form, “a drop under pressure.” Often an ex-drip will self-identify as a spurt, but on closer examination he is really just a drip.  Reader (Alan D McIntire) left a link on the Yellow Science thread, to a “scientific” paper written by this latter sort of expert, which is a rather humorous contribution to science.   The paper was message-motivated its conception, but the inspiration to write this post came from the machinations the authors exhibited in trying to rationalize the unfortunate data they collected.

The full paper can be downloaded here – The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change

Dan M. Kahan is the main author of the “work” which employs statistical techniques to interpret a questionnaire.  Anyone can critique a question, and many readers of the technical climate blogs do, but the reasoned questioning of a stupid question makes me glaze over so that is not the topic of this post.  What is interesting is that the authors really attempted to discern why the public has expressed such a wide rejection of “climate science™” in the face of the “National Academy of Science”, and how better to communicate their (the authors) own beliefs.

The paper uses a lot of obtuse language which will dissuade most casual readers from actually parsing the intent.  Psychology is likely to be a permanently soft science due to the difficulty and occasional unwillingness to define well qualified, limiting parameters for statistical tests.  This is the central reason that psychology has never actually achieved the true “gold star” rating of physics.  There is simply too much room in the field for opinion to interpret weakly fulcrumed data.  e.g. you write a question which intends to differentiate subjects and then interpret the question with complex statistics.   The actual result of both the question and the statistics are beyond most human scientists abilities to interpret, but that doesn’t stop any of us.

Meh…

Reality doesn’t change funding, the authors note states:

Authors’ Note. Research for this paper was funded by the National Science Foundation, Grant SES 0922714.

The abstract begins:

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.

Translation:

The people which the authors regularly associate with state that skepticism of climate change alarmism is rooted in misunderstanding of science, inability to access the technical results mentally, and the general stupidity of the population.

The rest of the abstract indicates quite obtusely when the “science” ends and the activism begins:

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.

Translation:

Those who understand science and math, are less likely to see climate change as a serious threat to their existence, but those who are predisposed by their “values” to reject climate science, have a stronger correlation to rejection of science.   The authors “suggest” that the subjects lack of rationality is caused by cultural commitments which override reason.  The individual understands the collective need, yet overrides it with individual interest.

Old song eh?

I do love that song.  But why does the increased rejection of a conclusion by “cultural rationale” make any point regarding the rejection by scientifically literate individuals?   Culture and reason are uncorrelated by definition.      To those of us who value data over result, the fact that the correlation is higher for cultural rejection of climate science, has literally zero influence on the scientific rejection of the same.  Still, the current bed-wetting phase of psychological science allows plenty of room for motivated, sophistic, discussion as to why people make decisions that others, particularly authors, don’t agree with.

The “irrationality” of every human are defined in the paper as:

But an even more fundamental objective is to advance a more precise diagnosis of the kind of irrationality that afflicts public deliberations on climate change. “Irrationality” describes a state of antagonism between an agent’s goals and the decision-making capacities that the agent uses to attain them.

So, in climate science,  “public deliberations” are some kind of irrationality…. Because an agent’s goals don’t match the authors “expected” results.

The meat of the paper is shown in the following sets of graphs:

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 20 09.27

Interesting that the more adept a person is in science and math, the less likely they are to agree with climate change!  A similar result was found for nuclear power as well:

ScreenHunter_03 Jan. 20 09.50

The more educated people are, the less worried they are about nuclear power.   The problem the authors have though is that they cannot understand how education on climate change results in less concern.   They don’t seem to suffer the same personal disdain regarding nuclear power, but the issues discussed in this paper were comprised entirely of current US liberal (egalitarian-communitarian) hot-button topics.  On reading, it is no stretch to assume that these are the issues which the authors deem important concerns for society.

The cultural cognition theory also generates a testable prediction. This theory posits that persons who subscribe to a “hierarchical, individualistic” worldview—one that simultaneously ties authority to conspicuous social rankings and eschews collective interference with the decisions made by individuals possessed of such authority—can be expected to be skeptical of claims of environmental and technologi-cal risks. Such people, according to the theory, intuitively perceive that widespread acceptance of such claims would license restrictions on commerce and industry, forms of behavior that Hierarchical Indivi-dualists value. In contrast, persons who hold an “egalitarian, communitarian” worldview—one that favors less regimented forms of social organization and greater collective attention to securing individual needs—tend to be morally suspicious of commerce and industry, which they see as the source of unjust disparities in wealth and power. They therefore find it congenial, the theory posits, to see those forms of behavior as dangerous and thus worthy of restriction. On this view, then, we should expect Egalitarian Communitarians to be more concerned than Hierarchical Individualists with climate change risks (Doug-las & Wildavsky 1982).

The authors point out here that politics affects peoples opinion to a greater degree than education.   However, in the near standard circular-reasoning mode of soft-science, the authors imply the correct answer for both the nuclear and the climate change cases, and generate conclusions from there.   They fail to notice how their own bias affects their conclusions.  For instance, climate change:

The result is the failure of the public—or at least a large propor-tion of it—to form the views of climate change risk held among more knowledgeable, dispassionate ex-perts (Weber & Stern 2011).
We will call this position the “public irrationality thesis” or “PIT.” Our claim is that PIT is con-trary to empirical evidence of who believes what about climate change.

And on nuclear:

This result is arguably consistent with PIT. Historically, members of the public have been understood to be more concerned about nuclear power than they should be based on the best available scientific evidence. If, consistent with PIT, we attribute the public’s view to deficits in reason, then we should expect to see concern with nuclear power risks abate as science literacy and numeracy increases.

So the authors are self-certain that the graphs above mean that the smart people got Nuclear power more right, but climate change wrong.

Unfortunately, this is absolutely a climate change activist paper, we shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking anything else of it.  It also has a strong communitarian leaning. The concept of it is entirely centered around using psychology to empower science to act on our behalf and direct the public as they see fit.  Irrational decision making based on political views are fingered as the culprit for the publics “incorrect” decisions on climate change.

The authors of the paper do make some good points of course but again, nothing which jeopardizes the authors intent.  The following paragraph correctly notes the anti-industrial stance of the “communicators”, the fake carbon-emission limit “solutions” but again blames only misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the science based on non-communitarian political views for the disagreement.

In fact, such inattention can deepen polarization. Citizens who hold hierarchical and individualis-tic values discount scientific information about climate change in part because they associate the issue with antagonism to commerce and industry. That association is aggravated when a communication identi-fies carbon-emission limits as the exclusive policy remedy for climate change (Kahan in press). Individu-als are prone to interpret challenges to beliefs that predominate with their cultural community as assaults on the competence of those whom they trust and look to for guidance (Kahan, Braman, Cohen, Gastil & Slovic 2010). That implication—which naturally provokes resistance—is likely to be strengthened when communicators with a recognizable cultural identity stridently accuse those who disagree with them of lacking intelligence or integrity.

I Believe that in their humorous machinations on irrational decision making, the authors have missed a simpler alternate explanation that happens to fit their own data better.

Negative slope of the risk with increased education. 

This means that the generally dumber people see nuclear power and climate change as more risky.  Sorry dumb people! The smarter people, who didn’t need much education to answer the brain-sorting questions, see it as less risk (slightly).  To be fair to the study, there is an extreme bifurcation of risk in climate change between the individualistic and the communistic groups.  This large-scale bifurcation of risk assessment on climate change, combined with a negative overall slope WRT education, is not an insignificant fact and the huge differential of opinion is not satisfactorily explained by the authors.

My explanation is that the smart people are more right……

Genius!

Climate change science is a self-sorted group of communitarian personalities, funded by government with a strong belief that they know best for society.   Of interest to me was that general climate science results and beliefs, are at the extreme end of the data collected in this paper.  The dangers are systematically exaggerated, and their solutions to the problems posited are singularly anti-industrial.  Additionally, these authors made the false claim that the climate scientists are the least-emotional and biased source.  A brief review of the general public behavior of climate scientists as well as private emails, indicates that fact the opposite is true.  You don’t hide the decline, if you aren’t interested in a particular result.

It takes little imagination to understand that communitarian personalities see climate change as their best chance to enact global changes to energy and governance.  Backing this point up, there is substantial evidence that their decision process is based heavily on emotion.  For example, we know low-energy density technologies like biofuels, wind and solar don’t do anything to solve the “scientific problem” yet viable high-output technologies like nuclear and natural gas are held back by the same people. These are examples of “feel good” science.  All of these examples point directly and singularly to rationality of decisions for political gain by the anti-industrial communitarians.

Let’s look briefly at how this alternate conclusion has explained the data in the paper.   Climate risk is being heavily exaggerated by the climate science community as evidenced by their opinions being on the extreme end of the collected data, and smart recognize it.   Communitarians, also at the extreme end of the spectrum, emotionally approve of the result and see the advantage of the argument which they help exaggerate to their own perceived benefit.   Individualists look at the same data, recognize that climate science has NOT made an adequate case for any danger whatsoever, and further recognize that the political goals of the science are highly-destructive to their economic well-being. Logically, the individualist still sees the lack of an adequate argument as still having some risk associated with it.

We shouldn’t forget that there isn’t a single piece of evidence that anyone has been hurt by global warming — anywhere — ever.  We are often told the opposite is true by the communitarian scientific thinkers, against all evidence.   Hurricanes, drought, shrinking fish, sheep etc…  All fake results today, which may start to show trends in the future.   In the case of nuclear energy, the communitarian groups have consistently and dramatically overestimated risk.  The situation is so bad that all nuclear is lumped together into a single concept completely ignoring the realities of differing technologies.  To me the anti-nuclear people are completely delusional, and some even express concern about the nuclear pollution of space!   Dumber than hell in my opinion.   Still there is less political advantage to be had in fighting nuclear power than fighting for climate change “solutions”, and the two groups in Figure 2 above are much closer in conclusion.

So there you have it, an explanation for the authors results which requires zero irrational thought on anyone’s behalf.   It explains the huge discrepancy between the different political viewpoints on climate change, without resorting to making decisions that are not in their own best interest.  It also employs the fact that “climate science™” sits at the extreme end of the risk spectrum, despite having literally zero evidence of any damage to date and substantial evidence of models running too hot.  It does all that while providing a rationale for political bifurcation on nuclear power being closer together than climate.

Adding irrationality to explain why people don’t converge on the most extreme end of climate change opinion, makes no sense whatsoever, and shows a form of irrationality by the authors of this paper. A loose and irrational(adjective) variable called “irrationality”, added to a paper to create a perceived data fit, without messing up the authors world-view.

And this concludes another episode of communitarian climate change insanity brought to you by the “experts” of the crazy world we live in.

 

 

 

 

32 Responses to “A Reasoned Rejection of Science, Explaining the Tragedy of Data to the Experts”

  1. RoHa said

    There are at least three good reasons for opposing this tendency to attribute the beliefs of others to non-rational factors.

    1. It is a form of argumentum ad hominem.

    2. Denying the rationality of the beliefs of others leads to possible neglect of the reasons for those beliefs, and it may well be vital to take those reasons seriously. E.g. “You think that spider is dangerous because you are an arachnophobe” No, because I recognize a red-back when I see one.

    3. It allows others to attribute one’s own beliefs to non-rational factors, and thus total rejection of rational discussion.

    (Whoops! Misplaced commas. The rule is “No comma after subject clause”, so there should be no comma after “math” and “science” in the following sentences.

    “Those who understand science and math, are less likely to see climate change as a serious threat to their existence”

    “the fact that the correlation is higher for cultural rejection of climate science, has literally zero influence on the scientific rejection of the same.”)

  2. Kenneth Fritsch said

    Jeff, I see this issue at three levels, one of which the authors almost get right in their own narrow and biased views of what I would generally term individualist versus collectivist or minimalist versus big government approaches to the matter of AGW.

    I would agree, and have stated it many times at these blogs, that the level of certainty that is required by an informed individual to agree to AGW mitigation by government has much to do with that individual’s view of government’s capabilities in these matters generally and not specifically and selectively to AGW.

    It is easier to understand this proposition if you look at the ends of the political spectrum. An advocate of big government may well judge that that government should already be controlling the factors that would be part of government mitigation of AGW. That group of people would not require any certainty of the future detrimental effects of AGW because obviously they have already been convinced that these matters are in their political realm of government. To this group there are no major costs or great potential for unintended consequences. On the other hand, the advocate for lesser and minimal government, who is aware of the unintended consequences of past government actions in matters such as these and further who knows that mitigation would be undertaken by modern day governments in a heavy-handed manner, would require a much greater level of certainty about any potential net detrimental effects of future AGW and even in some cases to argue against government intervention that is viewed as making a situation worse than doing nothing at all.

    Another level is that as communicated by the scientist/advocate whose science conclusions are clouded by advocacy and in some cases even the proper practice of the science. This level has much to do with the consensus of scientists, and the vague notion of what that consensus encompasses and the fact that scientists working in a specialized field are many times in no better or even worse position to judge fields outside their narrow interest than an informed layperson. It also has do to with the expert opinion as published by the IPCC of experts with regards to uncertainty in conclusions about past and future effects of AGW and its extent. The foundations of the formulations of those expert opinions on uncertainty are never defined and the outsider would have difficulty in separating the weight given in these opinions due to advocacy and science. It is also here that the consensus seeing the effects of AGW as almost entirely detrimental makes that consensus less believable. I have no reason to believe that if for some reason the consensus were on the other side of the AGW issue that that consensus would not have all the weakness that I mention above for the current one. Given, however, the political leanings of many in academia and the dependence on government funding for their research I see no good reasons that an antithetical consensus would arise.

    The third level is what is the science telling us without the intervening personal political and advocacy biases. Here is where these blogs can be valuable in analyzing the technical aspects of the important climate science papers and how well the conclusions hold up to close scrutiny which often requires sensitivity testing that the authors of these papers have chosen to forego and looking closely at what the authors have failed to show in the paper proper or have placed in what might appear as less accessible places like an SI. It is at this third level that one needs to put away ones admitted political and advocacy hats and keep the science hat firmly in place. It is here that having what might be considered a more extreme political view makes it easier to look at evidence more clearly because in the case of the big government approach it really requires no evidence of detrimental effects of AGW and with the minimal government approach even evidence for major net detrimental effects would not be viewed as sufficient reason to overcome the disadvantages of government mitigation with its unintended consequences or the intervention being worse than doing nothing.

  3. steve fitzpatrick said

    Jeff,

    I took the time to read the paper… it gave me a good laugh. As you noted, the authors are so unaware of their own prejudices that they can’t perceive the obvious fallacies in their analysis:

    1) There exists some absolutely certain “correct scientific consensus” that climate change is a substantial public danger, and
    2) Neither they themselves nor those involved in climate science hold views of the danger of climate science which are primarily motivated by a egalitarian/communitarian world view.

    Why was the rather obvious and substantial egalitarian/communitarian tilt of climate scientists not even considered when weighing the reliability of the “scientific consensus”?

    The absolute purest rubbish I have read in a while. Remarkably bad. Remarkable lack of rigor in the paper’s analysis. Feynman was right. Is it soft science? Hell no, it isn’t science at all.

  4. Oh, you hierarchical individualists, you… I wonder if the papers’ authors considered the possibility that folks like you might understand the issue better than they did.

    • steve fitzpatrick said

      Hi Tom,

      I don’t claim to understand climate science any better than the authors do. What I claim is that he paper displays a frightening lack of intellectual rigor.

      This is the sort of paper which reduces the chance of any reasoned public discussion of global warming and its consequences, so that rational public choices, compromises, and trade-offs can be made about the best means of increasing energy production over the coming decades. I don’t object to the paper because it makes no real contribution to public understanding; I object because the paper makes a wholly NEGATIVE contribution by accepting the “climate scientists are unbiased” meme as correct. That meme is clearly mistaken; climate science is grotesquely biased by political views. Most go into the field BECAUSE of their political views. Yes, there is good reason to carefully consider potential consequences of continued warming when discussing the need for large increases in energy production, but the factual basis for that consideration can’t be the pronouncements of a scientific field where nearly all the practitioners hold strong “communitarian/egalitarian” views, views which have strong potential to distort “the science”. IMO, that distortion is painfully obvious to anyone who cares to examine the evidence (the UEA emails are a reasonable starting point).

      The paper carefully avoids addressing the real reasons why the technically trained public does not believe climate scientists: those in the best position to understand and evaluate the technical issues see clear bias which distorts the consensus view in the field. The paper is a stupid and destructive waste of time.

    • Mark T said

      Of course not. That option was thrown out because they know the science is true so the possibility that more educated people may actually have a better understanding of the science and the data and, heaven forbid, are less likely to believe extraordinary claims based on such an obviously flawed case presented by scientists, the media, and governments could not even be considered.

      Mark

  5. M Simon said

    I had a good laugh about the dangers of radiation on Earth to the environment in space. Space is one of the more radioactive general environments known to man.

    I do think we need better reactor designs. Ones that at least overcome the known design flaws. The flaws in the Three Mile Island design were well known long before the accident. I was made aware of them in Naval Nuke School. Much of what went wrong in that accident could have been mitigated by a water level sensor in an out building, a wire to the control area, and an indicator light.

    As to climate science. The more I studied the lest support I found for AGW.

  6. David Jay said

    M. Simon:

    WELL, what sort of nuclear power designs do you feel have POTENTIAL?
    ;)

  7. Kenneth Fritsch said

    I would not be so quick to dismiss this paper or the approach taken in presenting the issue of the science and the public awareness of AGW as it might influence government policy. Here I am not talking about the validity of the paper’s suggestive approach, but rather that in all the paper’s wrongheadedness it is typical of the thinking of many intellectuals and MSM opinion makers – and something of which a thinking person should be aware.

    What I see as the majority view by the prevailing intellectuals in the US, and probably the world, with regards to AGW is that government mitigation by whatever means and however draconian should be put in place immediately. Their frustration is with the voting public (VP) who they see as dragging their small d democratic feet. These intellectuals appear to feel that the VP are being wrongly influenced by some almost conspiratorial group of uninformed skeptics out there. There task is therefore to spread the word about a science consensus (and better not to spell out what that might entail) and to disparage the skeptics or at least provide a human weakness or quirk that might appear to explain why they (wrongly) think as they do.

    While the VP, i.e. the masses, are for the most part a little “behind” the thinking of the prevailing intellectuals as is the general timing in these matters, I think the intellectuals’ message to the VP has a major contradiction to deal with here. The VP are currently more interested in what is going to happen to them in the very near future. The VP see government programs that they have come to depend upon such as SS and Medicare as sacrosanct and not likely to fail in the future and not in need of fixing. The VP have also been content to unload massive debt problems unto future generations and see no immediate concerns about it. The intellectuals, being in a large majority for big government, have ignored these questions of long term thinking when it comes to failing government actions while at the same time attempting to invoke long term thinking into the AGW issues vis a vis the VP in order to instigate government action.

  8. Steveta_uk said

    Jeff, I’m shocked – SHOCKED I tell you.

    Imagine, by John Lennon was recored a year after the Beatles disbanded!

    I mean, well, really …

    • Gary said

      Not to mention that it’s an utterly insipid song.

      • KevinM said

        I agree. I love the tune but the words are insipid.

        Imagine there’s no heaven…
        Imagine all the people living for today…
        Imagine there’s no countries…
        And no religion too…
        Imagine no possessions…

        Which leads to:

        …People living life in peace
        …Nothing to kill or die for
        …The world will be as one

        I do not think so.
        Closest modern anologs are Lenin’s Russia, Mao’s China and Castro’s Cuba.
        Starts off OK, but quickly devolves to:
        Living life at someone else’s mercy
        Nothing to kill or die for because the shelves are empty
        A world without the freedom to be a different one

        Typical modern humanist view that religion is an inherrent source of violence. Ignores, Taoists, Budhists, Hindus and most Protestant Christians and focuses on the Roman Catholic Inquisition, the Arab-Israeli conflict and anything Muslim. The balance of evidence suggests that theist and atheist nations excluding the ME are equally likely to slaughter their enemies for political and economic gain.

        Hitler and Stalin were avid atheists.

  9. hunter said

    The authors are simply using a religious apologist argument dressed up as a ratinoal scientific inquiry. The apologist style of arguing is useful for revealed truth and faith-informed claims. They are useless to advance scientific or empirical knwoeldge. AGW extremists have had to resort to this content-free style of argument for awhile now, only becuase it is the best they can use. They do not have the facts to support their beliefs, and so must rely on arguing in a faith-based style. They must infer wickedness and defect on those who disagree with their dogma. We have been ‘enjoying’ this sort of effluence from the climate kooks for decades now.

  10. Heretic said

    Isn’t this now (belatedly) covered @ JunkScience.com? ‘Nuff said.

  11. tz2026 said

    There is a reason Mother Theresa was credible about helping the poor.

    Somehow having someone with a huge mansion that jet-sets to try to convince people to buy into his Goldman-Sachs carbon exchange follow-up to mortgage backed securities doesn’t sound credible.

    Somehow being secretive and furtive with both data and the programs, and then trying to prevent dissent – playing the part AGAINST Galileo – doesn’t appear as candor. The one hiding has something to hide.

    Somehow having your job depend on the results being one way especially continued and increased funding, then loudly proclaiming that position makes one suspicious.

    Methinks the scientists doth protest too much. Their predictions don’t come true. Are tabloids peer reviewed?

    There is real science. The scientific method. Evidence and validation. Review. Openness with data. It is not part of the pro-AGW/ACC group. [Climate] skeptics ask legitimate questions and are answered with the epithet “denier” instead of the data and explanations.

    We’ve been through this before. Famine and plague? Judgment from God. Must be witches. With certainty, or do we want to wait until everyone dies? (Dies Irae?). Burn people until it stops. See it worked! The Medieval warm period ended about the time we started burning witches. We recently stopped and …

  12. Gary said

    The drips might have benefited from Daniel Kahneman’s insights before writing their paper.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

  13. Kenneth Fritsch said

    On a careful reading of the paper in question I note that the authors make 2 major assumptions: That scientists are unerringly correct and that beneficial government policy should follow from the findings of the scientists. The alternative and opposite views of the efficacy of government or the potential of unintended consequences from government actions is not seen as influential by the authors or least discussed in any detail.

    As I see it then that the authors deal with the problem of negative correlation between literacy and numeracy with the concern for AGW as a matter of those individual characteristics being in turn correlated with those individuals ability to rationalize a view that corresponds with some ill defined cultural bias of this group of people.
    The authors therefore have assumed away the possibility of the more enumerate and literate of being “correct” in their being less concerned about the dangers of AGW. At the same time the authors see the communication of the science on AGW to the masses as not being the problem in convincing the masses to call for actions according to, evidently, the recommendations of the science consensus.

    Therefore what is left but to show that it is a quirkiness of those not acceptably concerned about the dangers of AGW is what is impeding the Platonic notion of the masses listening (unquestioningly) to and following the exhorts of their science kings.

  14. Paul Matthews said

    Jeff, the version you link to here is a “Research paper”.
    The actual published version appeared in – where else – Nature!

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n10/full/nclimate1547.html

    I guess that other journals rejected it, so they sent it to Nature as a last resort.

    • Jeff Condon said

      Just when you thought it couldn’t get any sillier.

    • KevinM said

      Thats hysterical. I wonder if there is a negative slope on a chart of reading comprehension score and willingness to publish the paper? That could be explained by the obvious fact that reading comprehension is culturally biased.

  15. Paul Matthews said

    Also, Kahan has a blog where this paper was discussed on several threads eg

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2012/12/10/science-literacy-vs-climate-science-literacy.html

    where NiV (who I think is Nullius in Verba elsewhere) gets involved.
    I’m sure this paper was discussed at other blogs too.
    For example here at Curry’s back in 2011

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/06/28/mooney-on-kahan-on-skeptics/

    Maurizio’s first comment there summarises things nicely.

  16. Nullius in Verba said

    Paul,

    “where NiV (who I think is Nullius in Verba elsewhere) gets involved.”

    Yep. That was me.

    The interesting figure in the paper is figure 3, the right-hand panel showing the results.
    The hypothesis given here, that it is simply that more scientifically educated people are more sceptical about climate change, is simply an inversion of the PIT hypothesis – it would predict that both political viewpoints would converge on lesser perceived risk rather than more perceived risk as the left hand panel shows. That’s contradicted by the data, just as their hypothesis is, since egalitarian-communitarians are *not* more sceptical as they become better-educated. Although the effect is not statistically significant, there’s actually a shift to be *less* climate-sceptical the more they know about science.

    This is of course a statement of the obvious. Liberal lefty scientists clearly know a lot about climate science, but are firmly convinced of CAGW. How/why?

    This is why the research is interesting, even though it’s done by a warmist. Both sides think the other side is stupid, and both sides are wrong. It’s something else, something correlated to culture, and without knowing what it is there’s no way to fix it.

    Simply assuming that liberals are biased/stupid in all the ways liberals think we are biased/stupid is to repeat their error – and we are surely better than that. You just have to interpret the observations from a different standpoint.

    • KevinM said

      “egalitarian-communitarians are *not* more sceptical as they become better-educated”

      Now break that better-educated definition by field of study.
      Wanna bet Engineering degrees diverge from Liberal Arts degrees.
      How about ecologists versus geologists?
      Physicists versus psychiatrists?

      It would be difficult to get large enough samples from these pools, but I think a survey of diverse non-climate science professionals would be informative.

  17. spangled drongo said

    Bertrand Russell had it right:

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

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