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« Yow--lots of great comments on "science literacy vs. climate-change science literacy" | Main | Cultural cognition is not a bias -- and the corruption of it is no laughing matter! »

Science literacy vs. "climate science literacy"

This is in the department "recurring misunderstanding that I should say something about in a single place so that I can simply refer people to it."

Last May, CCP researchers published a study in Nature Climate Change presenting evidence suggesting that political controversy over climate change in the US cannot be attributed to any sort of deficit in the public's comprehension of science.

As science literacy and numeracy  (a technical reasoning disposition associated with more discerning perception of risk) increase, members of the general public do not converge in their perceptions of the risks posed by climate change. Instead, they become even more culturally polarized.

This finding fit the hypothesis that individuals can be expected to engage information in a manner that fits their interest in forming and maintaining beliefs that reflect their membership in, and loyalty to, important affinity groups.

Competing positions on climate change, unfortunately, are now conspicuously associated with opposing cultural groups. Being out of line with one's group on this issue exposes an individual to a social cost, whereas forming a mistaken view on the science of climate change has zero impact on the risk that individual, or anyone or anything she cares about, faces, insofar as one individual's personal behavior (as consumer, voter, public discussant, etc.) has no material effect on the climate.

One doesn't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what side of the issue one's cultural group is on in a debate like the one over climate change. But if one is, well, not a rocket scientist, but someone who has an above-average command of basic science and an above-average ability to make sense of fairly complicated technical and quantitative information, then one necessarily has skills --an ability to search out  supportive evidence, fight off counterarguments, etc.-- that one can use to be even more successful at forming and persisting in group-convergent beliefs.

The survey data reported in the Nature Climate Change study supported this conjecture. The experimental findings in the most recent CCP study -- on ideology, motivated reasoning, and cognitive reflection--supply even more support for it.

Now, the response to the Nature Climate Change study that I have in mind says, "Wait -- you didn't measure climate change literacy! Regardless of their worldviews, if people knew more about climate change science they surely would converge on the best understanding of the risks that climate change poses!"

That response is in fact a non sequitur.

Yes, of course, people who are "climate science literate," by definition, understand and accept the best scientific evidence on climate change. 

The whole point of the study, though, was to test hypotheses about why members of the general public haven't converged on that evidence -- or why, in other words, they aren't uniformly climate-science literate.  

We measured their general science literacy to assess the (widespread) claim that a general deficit in science comprehension explains this particular aspect of confusion about science.  What we found -- that members of the general public who display the greatest general science comprehension are the most culturally polarized on climate change risks -- is flatly inconsistent with that claim.

Imagine we had measured "climate change literacy" instead and used it to predict "climate change risk perception." We would have found that the former predicts the latter quite well -- because in fact, they are, analytically, the same thing.  

But then we'd still be left with the key question -- what explains deficits in "climate science literacy"?  By measuring general science literacy--something that is analytically distinct from climate change risk perception--we were able to help show that one common conjecture about that -- that people are not "climate change science literate" because they can't comprehend basic science -- is inconsistent with empirical evidence.

If one genuinely wants to explain public conflict over climate change, one has to offer and test explanations that don't just amount to redescribing the phenomenon.

And if the goal is to promote public recognition of the best available evidence on climate change -- and other societal risks -- then the sort of science illiteracy we need to remedy relates to our collective ability to protect our science communication environment from the sorts of toxic cultural meanings that make it individually rational for ordinary citizens -- including the most science literate ones -- to pay more attention to what positions on risk say about who they are than to whether those positions are true.


Kahan, D. Why we are poles apart on climate change. Nature 488, 255 (2012).

Kahan, D.M., Peters, E., Wittlin, M., Slovic, P., Ouellette, L.L., Braman, D. & Mandel, G. The polarizing impact of science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks. Nature Climate Change 2, 732-735 (2012).

Kahan, D.M., Wittlin, M., Peters, E., Slovic, P., Ouellette L.L., Braman, D., Mandel, G. The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Culture Conflict, Rationality Conflict, and Climate Change. CCP Working Paper No. 89 (June 24, 2011).

Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection, CCP Working Paper 107 (Nov. 29, 2012)

Peters, E., Västfjäll, D., Slovic, P., Mertz, C.K., Mazzocco, K. & Dickert, S. Numeracy and Decision Making. Psychol Sci 17, 407-413 (2006).



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Reader Comments (13)

As I have said before, I think there is a different question to ask. Are people who know something about relevant science more likely to agree with each other. The tests of science that you used had nothing particularly relevant. They were proxies for level of education plus memory. You say you cannot ask about relevant science without being redundant with your belief measures, but I think you could do that. The questions would involve things like how greenhouses work, what affects sea-level, the effect of CO2 and methane on absorption of radiation of different frequencies, the effect of fossil fuels and plants on atmospheric CO2, the effect of CO2 on ocean pH. And so on. The questions could also include those about things argued to reduce the effect of CO2, such as the effect of heat on cloud cover, the effect of cloud cover on absorption, the effect of CO2 on plant growth, etc. Correct answers to these questions by a subject do not by themselves imply that the subject believes that warming is happening, that it is caused by burning fossil fuels, that the oceans will rise.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon Baron

Good post! Impressively neutral, too!

The following observation isn't intended as any sort of criticism - just an observation from my admittedly partisan perspective. You say:
"Yes, of course, people who are "climate science literate," by definition, understand and accept the best scientific evidence on climate change."

Understand, yes. But people disagree on what constitutes the "best" scientific evidence and thus disagree about whether they or the other "accepts" it.

For a notable example of this from the debate, consider the climate database CRU TS2.1, a peer-reviewed data product published by the Climatic Research Unit containing data on temperatures, rainfall, sun/cloud, etc. across the world. Data from it is included in the IPCC reports, regarded as an authoritative source, and is cited in a number of other papers and pieces of research. There was (and so far as I know still is) no particular reason to think it any different to any other bit of climate science. This is what some would have called "the best scientific evidence on climate change".

Well, in 2009 we got an insight into how this climate science was done, in the form of the lab notes of the climate scientist (one Ian 'Harry' Harris, we think) tasked with updating it to version CRU TS3.0. Have a read. (There are lots of good bits, but search for "make it up" and "flagship" for a couple.)

The thing that I found most fascinating was how, even with the exact same document in front of them, people still argued about whether this constituted good scientific evidence.

One line of argument said that this was how academic science was normally done. Researchers were working at the cutting edge, in a hurry to get the next paper out, and they didn't have time to mess about with software standards, documentation, testing, configuration control, and all that other software engineering nonsense. Yes, it would be nice, but it was their job to explore, and somebody else's job to tidy up the loose ends afterwards.

Another line of argument asked whether this record was reliable. It was just one researcher's opinion, after all. Were his criticisms and complaints actually correct? Were they subsequently fixed? Did we have any proof? And given that we had the notes but not the software, and thus no proof of anything, was this not mere hearsay, just evidence of a lone individual bitching privately about their colleagues?

A third line noted that the database had in fact been globally published and publicised by the university (as a "flagship" product), published in the peer-reviewed literature, had further been passed by the extensive review process at the IPCC, and had withstood the scrutiny of the climate science community for a number of years. Further, the revelations had been examined in detail by numerous enquiries, all of which reported no problems with the science. The paper itself has not been withdrawn, the database is still available. Given all that, it seems entirely implausible that these issues could be as serious as suggested; it would require a conspiracy on a monumental scale for all these different bodies to have passed it if such dire problems really applied. People who think so are therefore clearly conspiracy theorists, and the quotes are obviously being taken out of context and misinterpreted.

A fourth line of argument I've seen is that nobody much uses this particular database, and it is not essential to the main case for AGW. there are mountains more of peer-reviewed evidence produced by professional climate scientists all making the case, and the errors in one individual paper don't matter. This is cherrypicking and nitpicking on minor details while ignoring the strong central case that has already been made.

I have no doubt that the people who used these arguments were entirely sincere, and that there is some truth to what they say. That's what they see when they look at this evidence - while I, because I am motivated by a different ideology, see something quite different. And a lot of other people, likewise citing experience of industrial science standards, with a knowledge of software standards and strict quality controls, but also no doubt with the same sort of ideology, see it too.

Thus, yes, of course, people who are "climate science literate," by definition, understand and accept the best scientific evidence on climate change. But we don't agree on what that is, and hence what 'climate science literate' might mean. That's why I think using a 'neutral' measure of science literacy is a particularly good idea. Well done!

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Is it really true to say climate science literacy and acceptance are two sides of the same coin? It depends on what aspect you're interested in, I suppose- warming or the cause of the warming. (Risk perception should be weighted toward the latter, yes?) Someone could understand (and accept) data that show warming trends, but reject a human cause. Similarly, someone could understand something about the methods used in climate science (proxy records/reconstructions, models, etc.) and reject a human cause, or reject future projections.

Because in addition to that, you'll find folks who aren't aware of any of that (or have mistaken ideas) and either accept or reject anthropogenic climate change.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScott Johnson

A few months ago, I wrote a blogpost on the Skeptical Science climate blog about this paper. This is commentary by an amateur, so I would be interested in hearing what I got wrong and, if anything, what I got right

Skeptical Science is aimed at explaining what peer-reviewed science has to say about climate change and at rebutting and correcting misinformation from climate contrarians. According to a naive reading of the Kahan et al NCC paper, we might be either wasting our time or even increasing polarization through our attempts at increasing scientific literacy. Naturally, many of the contributors to the blog took a keen and critical interest to the NCC paper and some of the comments on the blog post relate to the issue of scientific versus climate literacy.

December 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy S

Jon Baron,

Good idea on the questions. I agree there are lots of 'neutral' climate science questions you can ask to assess general understanding, without getting into the controversies. And even on the controversial topics it is possible to distinguish scientific from unscientific answers.

My personal favourite (but controversial!) test question is to ask people to calculate the rough magnitude of the greenhouse effect in a pond of water, given that liquid water is transparent to visible sunlight and absorbs thermal infrared within about a millimetre. It's a good test of whether people are just repeating what they've been told or actually understand the principle. It's possibly a bit hard for the man-in-the-street though.

Scott Johnson,

I agree. Belief or scepticism isn't a binary proposition. Most sceptics accept that there has been warming, and accept the basic physics, but question whether the feedbacks are understood, whether the sensitivity is tightly constrained, and whether the effects will be as large as projected, or will have the impacts claimed. Some argue about aspects of the physics, some about aspects of the temperature record (whether paleo- or present), some about the economics and politics. Scepticism is not monolithic, and I'm sure neither is belief. Precise classification can't be boiled down to one or two questions.

Andy S,

I'm sure Dan will tell you if you misunderstood, but from my point of view it looked like a fair interpretation. From my perspective, I would say that giving people more information on science isn't a problem, and isn't a polarisation-increasing waste of time. What causes polarisation is the way it's done. The thing that stands out about SkS to a casual reader is that it is entirely one sided. The contrarians are frequently disparaged, are said to be guilty of misinformation, and are never right. (I may have missed some exceptions, and it's been a while since I last visited, but that was the surface impression given.) That's pretty hard to believe (nobody's perfect) and thus get's you classified as partisans, and it's *that* that increases polarisation. Readers either join the party, or reject it all as biased and thus untrustworthy.

If you want my advice (and I fully realise that you probably don't) then you can help more by keeping all the science bits, but write parts of it as if from the point of view of a lukewarmer or sceptic (a 'culturally diverse communicator') who, without entirely accepting the final conclusions does accept most of the scientific basics, who rejects the crazy stuff but who leans the other way to you where there is genuine scientific uncertainty. Someone who is calm and measured, respects both sides, and takes the science seriously. Someone who doesn't get into fights. And in the other parts, stick to the science, and have a policy against anything that looks like disparagement or taking sides. That way you don't scare them off and you can gently herd them back towards the middle.

Pay attention too to the communications approach of people like Richard Betts, Tamsin Edwards, ScienceOfDoom, Judith Curry - they get a degree of respect from the climate sceptic community without themselves being in any way climate sceptics. People listen to them.

As they say, it depends on who your intended audience is. If you want to hand out ammunition to your own side in the culture war, it's fine. If you want to convert sceptics, or at least reduce the antagonism, then you need to employ more sceptical viewpoints at least for explaining those parts where there's common ground. You have to first attract the audience you want to talk to, which means giving them something they will want to look at, and only then can you tell them what you want them to know.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Jon Baron [btw, I have no idea why I use "@" symbol; but mine is not to reason why -- it is to do whatever selfish memes make me to do before they discard me as used-up vehicle for propogating themselves]: I suepect you are right that people who do well on the sort of test you have in mind would largely agree on climate change risks. But that wouldn't detract at all from the conclusion of the study, which was aimed at addressing why there is public conflict over climate change. How people do on the test you describe, I'd say, won't help us to answer that question. Consider: (a) The vast majority of people who accept scientific consensus on climate change risks would likely fail miserably on your test. Accordingly, the test scores would not explain very much variance or shed much light on why there is polarization on climate change. Cf. relationship between comprehension of modern synthesis & belief in evolution. (b) The general public's comprehension of relevant science on many many many issues is comparably low (risk benefit of pasteurization of milk, of high power transmission lines, of above-ground --or below-ground nuclear testing; link cancer & cigarettes -- absence of link between cancer & cell phone use) & yet there is no dissensus on those. (c) It's not feasible for public to have the degree of knowledge that you are describing for every single issue on which it is necessary & appropriate for them, as citizens in a democracy & as individuals trying to lead good lives, to have positions; they must -- we all must -- accept as known by science more than they/we can actually comprehend themselves. (d) For scientific knowlege to inform individual & collective life, citizens need only be able reliably to recognize what science knows . That, I'm sure, depends on some degree of scientific literacy -- of the sort that likely the NSF indicators (the test we used) are a reasonable (but far from perfect) measure. (e) It was certainly a reasonable hypothesis that conflict over climate change is a consequence of a deficiency in *that* sort of scientific literacy. But it turns out to be false -- and so we should examine alternative explanations.

@Scott Johnson: This is a good question. I think it goes, really, to the nature of the measure we used in the study. We used what I call the “industrial strength” risk perception measure , which asks subjects to rate seriousness of risk on scale of 0-10. It turns out that on climate change this item correlates very highly w/ every more particular question you could ask subjects about climate change, including wheteher earth is heating up, whether humans are causing it, whether it will have this or that bad consequence, etc. So it is a valid indicator of knowledge/acceptance of basic facts on cliamte change as well as risk. Basically, people have a generic pro- con- attitude on climate-- and most other risk issues too, making the industrial strenght an useful mesaure for those as well).

@Andy S: Your write up was great! No problem w/ it. The problem *I* have is how to make clear that *nothing* I'm saying means that what you are doing is wrong, waste of time, futile etc, just as nothing I'm saying means that science literacy is unimportant --far from it! *You* are conveying the signal; I am trying to call attention to the interference that prevents it from getting through & that can't be overcome by just ramping up the amplitude. But if we clear the transmission lines of science communication of this interference, citizens, to make informed decisions, *still need the signal,* including the public service that is performed by those who effectively identify obfuscators. *I* have a science communication problem to the extent that this message doesn't come through when I write. I will write a separate blog post on this. But by all means, keep up what you are doing, being mindful, as I'm sure you are, of the points that NiV makes about the challenge of communicating information that can have identity-threatening implications for people.

@NiV: I will happily agree with all you say -- on condition that you confirm you agree w/ essence of my response to Jon Baron -- viz., that the essence of science communication involves engaging the msg recipient's capacity to recognize, and his or her disposition to assent to the authority of, what is known to science.

December 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I agree that citizens "need only to be able to recognize what science knows", so why not test that? Something along the lines of the Actively Open-minded Thinking scale, yet adapted for science specifically, might do the trick. Again, I suspect that the results might be different from those you have found for the tests you use, which do not, so far as I can tell, assess understanding of how science works. (The best short description I've read is from Robin Horton' article on "African thought and western science". He says: "The essence of the experiment is that the holder of a pet theory does not just wait for events to come along and show whether or not [the theory] has a good predictive performance. He bombards it with artificially produced events in such a way that its merits or defects will show up as immediately and as clearly as possible." But this is limited to experimental science. Something analogous could be said about science that involves observations without interventions. We look for observations that have this critical function.)

I think my original idea of testing specific science knowledge answers a different question, but not an unreasonable one, namely, if people actually knew something about the facts of climate science, they would have a big leg up on understanding its methods and conclusions and might be more likely to agree on the latter. I understand that the average citizen cannot be expected to know much of this, but more opinion leaders - not just scientists - might be up to it. Although I agree that understanding the methods of science is the most important thing, I also think that it is impossible to learn about these in the absence of science content.

Again, I refer to my old essay here.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJon Baron

Might be worth testing. On a particular website I used to frequent there was one person who I managed to goad into explaining the greenhouse effect. He did so quite well, if in basic terms and seemed to understand and accept it. Despite this, he was consistently vocal in his rejection of climate science - without giving any reason for his rejection other than the usual nonsense (scientists are chasing money, governments of all persuasions want global warming and other illogical statements).

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSou

@Jon, The possibility that performance on Actively Open-mindeded Thinking scale would explain climate-change risk perception variance is different from, & I think more challenging & practically important than, the claim that "relevant climate science knowledge" would. There's only one way to find out the answer, of course! But to motivate the hypotheses: Do you find it surprising that higher scores on the Cognitive Reflection Test *magnify* polarization on climate change & like issues? Our data from the NCC article is consistent with that conclusion (CRT is subcomponent of numeracy); and the experiment result in Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection directly supports it. Would you expect AOT to be a valid indicator of resistance to ideologically motivated reasoning? Why wouldn't high scores magnify motivated reasoning -- as CRT does?

December 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"I will happily agree with all you say -- on condition that you confirm you agree w/ essence of my response to Jon Baron -- viz., that the essence of science communication involves engaging the msg recipient's capacity to recognize, and his or her disposition to assent to the authority of, what is known to science."

Hmm. I'm not at all keen on the word "authority". But I think I know what you mean.

I agree that the essence of science communication involves engaging the recipient's capacity to recognise science. Even if they can't do it, and can't themselves properly check it, they can recognise the method, the use of evidence and logical chains of reasoning, the use of hypotheses, the estimation of uncertainty, the elimination of hypotheses that don't work. Has the scientific method been applied? Is there any controversy, or counter-arguments? I do not believe there is any scientific alternative to doing science, but there are heuristics that help.

On the other hand, the paper is looking simply at the question of who believes in the climate consensus, whether their reasons for doing so are scientific or not, and given that I think the vast majority believe it on the basis of argument ad verecundiam (a variety of argument from authority), in agreement with observation (a) in your reply to Jon, then I would agree that persuading people to believe in global warming is strongly related to persuading them to accept the authority of the consensus of climate scientists. But I would strongly question whether what is being communicated here is "Science". It looks to me more like conveying the conclusions of (a particular viewpoint within) science but on the basis of argument from authority.

If a person believes in a scientific conclusion but for unscientific reasons, is their belief "scientific"? Is the communication that brought this about "science communication"? What do we regard "science" to be? A sceptical method for finding things out, or a list of accepted facts to memorise? Aren't we back to Aristotle and the Scholastics' 'ipse dixit'?

I may be misinterpreting you - using the term "authority" in this context has a definite tendency to set me off! - possibly you didn't mean what I thought you meant. You may have meant 'authority' applied to the scientific method rather than the community of scientists - as in a source is 'authoritative' if it uses the proper method.

But I feel this difference of opinion on the role of authority in Science is at the heart of the cultural difference between those who believe and those who do not. Individualists do not trust authorities, and will not defer to them. Communitarians apparently do. Could that possibly have something to do with it?

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNiV


Thanks for your constructive comment. I would agree that we need to do more at SkS to reach out to the undecided, but we are unapologetic partisans when it comes to siding with the consensus on peer-reviewed science and we can't pretend otherwise. I don't think that we can or should even try to write from the point of view of "a lukewarmer or sceptic", they are anyway capable of writing for themselves. Comments from lukewarmers and skeptics are welcome on the blog, provided that they stick to the science. I should add that I'm a an ex-lukewarmer myself, but looking back, I can only justify my old position on the basis of wishful thinking, no doubt influenced by my many years of working in the oil business.

I do follow Betts and Edwards and I am a big fan of Science of Doom. I have nothing but admiration for SoD's inexhaustible patience in dealing with those commenters who obstinately struggle with the consensus view on thermodynamics. Judith Curry, on the other hand, brings little of value to the debate, in my opinion. For example, she is incoherent on the issue of uncertainty in climate science and her "anything goes" approach to moderation makes the comments section of her blog unreadable.


Thanks for the kind comment. I am pleased to say that one of Skeptical Science's graphics The Escalator appeared in the US Congress recently thanks to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. We will be delighted when the day comes that our material is adopted by Republican legislators, but that's just a distant dream.

December 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndy S

The basic problem here is the problem of politicized science -- that is, science which has been biased by a political ideology, this bias affecting not just individual scientists, but the institutions that employ them and that operate as a filter on people who are able to be recognized as scientists in the first place (with similar filters operating at the publishing and fund granting levels). To see this, consider a thought experiment: once upon a time there was a so-called "racial science" (including, say, phrenology and the like) which not only grouped people by various arcane measures but assigned ratings to those groupings as well, a "science" we now recognize as politicized or ideologically based. But when it was still popular, imagine its supporters puzzling over a gap between "science literacy" in general, and "racial science literacy" (meaning acceptance of the general views of racial scientists) in particular. The problem, as we now see is obvious, is rather in their own uncritical acceptance of authority figures in a clearly politicized area.

I've picked this example only for its hoped-for clarity, not because I'm actually equating contemporary climate science to so-called racial science. But the lesson is the same: the closer anything claiming to be "science" moves toward contentious moral, social, or political issues, the more it risks being contaminated itself by the moral, social, and political beliefs that underlie and motivate those issues. Science and its institutional supports being made up of beings as human as anyone else, political bias is an inescapable presence.

December 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMetamorf

Very interesting discussion-I actually had the experience of being shunned by a discussion group I was in (no longer there) when I raised questions about the numbers behind the Greenhouse effect of CO2. I simply asked for an explanation of the model involved-no one was a scientist in the group-and stated I was remaining somewhat skeptical about the subject until I could see some numbers. What I still am in need of to make further progress in resolution is:
1. How much thermal energy does the average CO2 molecule absorb? How does the 'blanket' effect work in conjunction with other energized molecules-or can other molecular substances take on some of the energy from the CO2 molecules that are floating around?
2. Where in the atmosphere-what level-does this absorption take place?
3 How long does the molecule hold onto the energy?
4. May I see some models that show that the Greenhouse effect is currently in action.
I simply wanted some fodder for the cognitive processes and my group could not give me that so they turned on me like a pack of vicious jackals and proceeded to consume me. My own personal style of making decisions-I like the term fodder-requires that I have information-and good information. I have a personal style for determining what is good information and will give an example.
In my quest for constructing a theory that would explain everything (:-I was reading into the subject of evolutionary biology and was pursuing the topic with the aid of two books both entitled 'Evolutionary Biology'; one written by Mark Ridely and the other by Douglas J. Futuyma. I found Ridely's approach vastly more engaging and informative because it was provocative. One of the most interesting subjects I have ever come across came up in his book and was not found anywhere else. Early in cellular evolution a branching occurred -to keep the mitotic spindle structure at least partially intact or to totally deconstruct it and build from scratch each time a cell division occurs. The more so called primitive organisms keep the mitotic spindle assembly intact-or at least partially so-while the more so called advanced organisms tear down the mitotic spindle and rebuild from scratch at each cell division. This topic is not very hot in evolutionary biology and was dropped from later editions of Ridley's book even though understanding the nature of the mitotic spindle is central to disease control.

To toss out a bit of controversy from the 'other' side (global climate change deniers) -fodder for the jackals this time- and suggest the research into the evolutionary components of the mitotic spindle is not going on at a rapid rate because it is not a big generator of research funding. Can you imagine writing up a request or facing a panel with questions? " So Mr. Phenicie, explain to us again why the evolutionary history on the developmental biology as it pertains to flagellated unicellular parasite mitotic spindle is worthy of consideration for a grant?" Just wondering.

I believe the greatest evil we face today is the inability of people with opposing views on politics, economics, culture, law, to talk to each other. And talk we must or we will find ourselves on display -back to the future movie set here- on display with the dinosaurs in about two hundred years. My solution would not be more science education, although that is necessary, but to have more teachings in the arts, literature, humanities and social, political and economic history. Great writers like Shakespeare and Dickens have much to give the careful, thoughtful reader of their works. Piecing together all of the available and printed bits on English constitutional history that lie within one's grasp would do much to allow further one to build skills that are useful in finding a resolution of cognitive dissonance-or the building of new dissonance so that can in turn be moved to resolution.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRay Phenicie

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