follow CCP

Recent blog entries
popular papers

Science Curiosity and Political Information Processing

What Is the "Science of Science Communication"?

Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Making Climate Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down 

Neutral Principles, Motivated Cognition, and Some Problems for Constitutional Law 

Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus
 

The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Science Literacy and Climate Change

"They Saw a Protest": Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction 

Geoengineering and the Science Communication Environment: a Cross-Cultural Experiment

Fixing the Communications Failure

Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change

The Cognitively Illiberal State 

Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study

Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology

Whose Eyes Are You Going to Believe? An Empirical Examination of Scott v. Harris

Cultural Cognition and Public Policy

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in "Acquaintance Rape" Cases

Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White Male Effect

Fear of Democracy: A Cultural Evaluation of Sunstein on Risk

Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk

« More conversation -- & an announcment of my commitment to the same | Main | Motivated reasoning & its cognates »
Friday
May172013

Annual "new study" finds 97% of climate scientists believe in man-made climate change; public consensus sure to follow once news gets out

Hey! Did you hear? A new study shows that 97% of scientists believe that human activity is responsible for climate change!

We all need to be sure this new information gets reported far and wide -- not only because it is genuinely newsworthy, a true addition to what's known about the state of scientific opinion -- but also because public unawareness of this degree of consensus surely explains cultural polarization over climate change.

The ugly, demeaning, public-welfare-enervating debate will be over soon!

Why didn't anyone think of telling the public about this before now?!

 

 

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.

Reader Comments (106)

Joshua,

Yes, that's right. It's not relevant to the scientific climate question, but it's interesting from a sociological point of view.

People interpret the question differently. Who do you mean by "experts" or "scientists" or "climate scientists" or "consensus climate scientists"? Which aspect of the "consensus position" are you talking about? What is the consensus position on each of the many aspects, anyway, and how was it measured?

Because if I was asked who I think is the most reliable source for information on climate change, I would definitely answer "climate scientists" too, since all the information I cite and use in the debate ultimately comes from or via them. There are some climate scientists whose data I would definitely not trust, and plenty of their conclusions and methods I think are wrong. While I think there are some aspects there is general agreement on, I think there's more dissent on other aspects than certain people like to admit. However, those questions weren't asked.

I also agree that CO2 should contribute positively to warming, and that the world has warmed over the 20th century, and I think that there is general agreement amongst climate scientists on both of those points. So if I was to answer the questions asked in a lot of these surveys, I'd get counted as a scientist-trusting believer.

Do you think that's an accurate and informative representation of my position?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

dmk38

Tell me why you think this issue is broken-- particularly given how many aren't. Within the class of things known to science & that matter for individual & collective decisionsmaking, the number that show this sort of polarizling pathology is very very small. What explains how it happens & to what? What can be done to avoid such wasteful & obnoxious (for one thing, deeply hostile to Liberal principles of self-govt) misadventures?

The climate change issue is broken by hype.

Unique among all things known to science etc etc, it has been presented for many years as the worst thing that could ever happen, worse even than thermonuclear war (as said by the UK Govt Chief Scientist in 2003, the statement that convinced me this was an issue I had to spend time on -because it's impossible for anything to be worse than thermonuclear war).

The hype hasn't subsided, as demonstrated by the yearly dubious proclaims about the 97% this or 97% that. And the hype is what polarizes everything: because if you believe in the hype, then as there is nothing worse than climate change pretty much any action about it becomes "ethical", including making sure people remain poor and the elderly don't survive too man winters.

When the alternative is total annihilation, anything goes.

The natural reaction by a small subset of the non-hyped-up population is to actively block anything that is hype-related. It's a matter of life and death, self-defence against the people for whom anything goes. This, as far as I am concerned, is the one and only common trait among skeptics. Hence the thorough and immediate ripostes to alarmists like John Cook, or the Royal Society's Greatest and Goodest.

The reaction to the skeptics knives-out attitude is then the circling of the wagons, with conspiracy theorists such as Michael Mann and Naomi Oreskes acquiring undue prominence, scouring the world for supporters aka devotees who sheepishly repeat everything they're told.

This in turn causes the skeptics to unite in uproar at the obvious stupidity of people proclaiming themselves as Defenders of the Science (Mooney, Plait) whilst actively contributing to an anti-scientific polarization of the topic. The Defenders consider the uproar as an Attack on Science Itself, and go on having funny workshops on how to effectively communicate the climate issue exactly as they refuse to communicate the issue, Frankly, for a few hours yesterday I thought we were in that situation here too.

And so on and so forth. The war is an all-out one, to the point that recently the same piece of news has appeared in two widely-read blogs, one skeptical the other alarmist, each proclaiming it was evidence they were respectively right. Talk about having a "knowledge gap"...

I am constantly reminded of the Quinta inhabitants in Stanislaw Lem's Fiasko.

But just as well, the belligerents' discussion has become too esoteric for anybody else to care. The polarization, that is the hype, forces the general public to stay away from talking meaningfully about climate change. Anybody with half a sense knows their utterances on the topic will attract the worst skeptics and/or the worst alarmists. See what happened when James Randi and Penn Gillette stepped out of message.

=====

There is a way out. Stop the hype. Dry out whatever it feeds from. Get the discussion down to earth. Take advantage of the upcoming revelation that the most alarmist predictions will not come to fruition. Tell people to stop talking about a Venusian future of hell on Earth, and to get their heads together about adaptation, a topic everybody will surely agree on (just mention Fudai, Japan).

But I am afraid there isn't much help I can provide. You see, I am a "denier", according to the very hypists that are poisoning the climate change topic /sarc.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@maurizio

I'll invite you as well to provide me some pointersl. I do work in science, even areas related to climate. Some some potential relevance. On the other hand, most of the people you're complaining about are not climatologists, so I'm less confident. 'stop the hype' isn't exactly something I can do, though I agree that hype like "worse than thermonuclear war" is no help. But I can't tell the UK science minister what to say. I also think comments, from other quarters, like "taking any action on climate would bankrupt the globe", are hype we could all do without. The hype has not been one-sided, and both sides excuse their own extremes on the grounds of the others.

Even though Mann and I are in the same field -- if you take it at its broadest -- I'm also not in a position to tell him what to do or not do. Broadest = work on some aspect or other of the climate system. Mine is glaciology, mostly sea ice.

So what is it that I can be doing? How? I do engage Science Cafes, make the occasional tweet, post a blog. At the blog, I also invite questions and discussion (per my debate vs. discussion article), and encourage links to science source material in the comments. Yes, my focus is the science rather than the policy. As far as policy goes, a lot of my position is in Keep your vehicles how you choose. Doesn't go very far, since what I'd like to see is discussion based on realities and best understanding of the science, and we're so far from that in the public sphere that I don't have much more to say policywise.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Grumbine

Hi Dan,

I just found your fascinating line of research through an NYTimes.com blog. From listening to your Cambridge talk entitled, "Cultural Cognition and the Challenge of Science Communication," I got the idea that the key to effectively communicating scientific information that conflicts with someone's cultural predispositions is to present it within the framework of those dispositions. I think that is an excellent approach, as shown by the results of your own studies. I also just listened to the latest "This American Life" broadcast (5/18/2013) "Hot in My Backyard," and found the second segment, entitled "The Right Man for the Job," extremely interesting. Here is the blurb for it from the TAL website:

"Producer Ben Calhoun tells the story of a former Congressional Representative from South Carolina, Bob Inglis. Inglis is a conservative Republican who once doubted climate science. After he looked at the research, he changed his mind, and decided to speak out. In 2010, he was mocked by people in his own party and trounced in by a Tea Party-backed candidate. Since then, Bob has dedicated himself to the issue even more — and he’s now trying to create a conservative coalition for climate change action."

Bob Inglis seems to be using exactly the strategies that you are proposing are most successful, and I hope they are. Clearly, it is far too early to tell. However, near the end of the segment they discuss the fact that the majority of his audiences at college campuses in southern "Red States" are actually liberals. Apparently, many young conservatives are unwilling to listen to someone sharing most of their cultural values, if his message is nevertheless counter to their existing beliefs on this one topic. Any thoughts on this?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLes Loschky

@Joshua:
I've quantified exactly the sorts of things you're mentioning. IN the study that is linked in the post & in multiple of my comments. I've also made the point -- going on 1000 times -- that it doesn't follow that b/c people trust scientists, if you tell them "scientistific consensus is ..." they will fit their views to that.
What scientists believe is something that turns on evidence, just as the melting of ice caps is. People process information about what scientists believe in th3e same way that they process latter kind of information: via culturally motivated reasoning.
So yes, people who are skeptical about cliamte change believe their position is consistnet with scientific consensus. And if you show them evidence to the contrary, they reject that evidence.
BTW, if you show people who believe in climate change evidence that epxerts don't share their view, they reject that too. They reject it even when in fact they are wrong -- e.g., on what scientific consensus is on nuclear power.
Yes, we've furnished evidence of these things.
Would you blame me if I said, that the very fact that I still find myself explaining what our study (and others I've linked to) say makes me believe there is a reason the people I'm trying to communciate w/ are resisting empirical evidence about communicating climate change as aggressively as anyone is resisting evidence on climate change itself? It feels that way to me. Weird.
And I have no idea why anyone would think that b/c I say these things - and they are the only things I've said -- that I'm skpetical about scientific consensus on climate change. But I am not surprised if that's true, either.

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

NiV -

es, that's right. It's not relevant to the scientific climate question, but it's interesting from a sociological point of view.
>

I'm not clear what "it" is there.

People interpret the question differently. Who do you mean by "experts" or "scientists" or "climate scientists" or "consensus climate scientists"? Which aspect of the "consensus position" are you talking about? What is the consensus position on each of the many aspects, anyway, and how was it measured?

Does "you" there mean me, specifically, or the generic or impersonal "you?"

Anyway, yes, I agree (if I read you right) that those are all important questions when assessing the sociological dimensions of the debate.

Because if I was asked who I think is the most reliable source for information on climate change,...

We go over this point again and again. You (the personal and definite pronoun usage) are an outlier in this debate. By definition, your perspective is not particularly informative for the sociological aspects of the debate, or generalizable (not to say that it is meaningless). One of the problems I see with some "skeptical" arguments, is their reliance on a projection of personal experiences to the larger public. Such argumentation is un-scientific.

While I think there are some aspects there is general agreement on, I think there's more dissent on other aspects than certain people like to admit.

Sure. That conclusion would be predictable by virtue of cultural cognition - and I think that in the real world there is evidence to support that conclusion. This is a food fight, however, and I see plenty of evidence of the flip side - where as just one example, "there is more less dissent on other aspects than certain people like to admit."

We can see direct evidence of that phenomenon in examples such as when "skeptics" distorted the views of Mojib (if my name wasn't Mojib Latif it would be "global warming") Latif on predicting future temperatures: In other words, the mis-portrayal of his opinions as being "dissent," when in fact they weren't when we look at the more substantive questions (it might be arguable whether his views on near-future short-term trends might differ to some degree from those of other "consensus" scientists, but it is not arguable that he agrees with the "consensus" view on the potential harm represented by ACO2 effects on climate change).

That (an overplaying of dissent), of course, is also easily predictable from what we know about the nature of human cognition (the essential element of pattern finding to make meaning), and ways that we all reason in the face of controversies that overlap with political, ideological, personal, and psychological identifications.

Do you think that's an accurate and informative representation of my position?

Hmmm. In a technical or lawyer-like sense, sure. What that representation leaves out is the question of your views, vis-a-vis the prevalence of opinion among expert climate scientists w/r/t the potential magnitude of warming and/or harmful outcomes. Now of course, it is a valid point that "realists" might paper over that question just as you might. Again, this is predictable. It is what we should expect. The problem occurs, in my view, when people begin expecting such reasoning on the part of those they disagree with (appropriately, in a sense) , without acknowledging the similar inherent trait in their own reasoning processes, or those whose conclusions they are in agreement with. Flying Jell-o results.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan -

So yes, people who are skeptical about cliamte change believe their position is consistnet with scientific consensus. And if you show them evidence to the contrary, they reject that evidence.

My point is that I see this as an over-generalization. Sure, the phenomenon exists, in a quantifiable way, but there is a grey zone, IMV.

Again, I think that there are those who express "trust" in climate scientists, i.e., are not necessarily fundamentally "skeptical" about climate change or substantively partisan in their orientation on the topic, who seem to have an inaccurate assessment of the prevalent opinion among climate scientists. Now that pattern can (and I would say does) play out on both sides of the debate - as seen in those who both over-estimate and under-estimate the strength of "consensus" (although I think that polling data suggest that the patter is stronger on the side of underestimation).

(As a side point, I think that it is interesting that combatants on both sides of the debate are absolutely certain of the public's mis-estimation of the degree of consensus among "experts"- and that "the media" is to blame.


Anyway, the existence of people who fit that description does not negate the reality of cultural cognition.

I think there is some uncertainty here. I think that Marlowe's comments (here and over at Keith's) address that point. Perhaps others also. I think that there are some % of people, who lean to both sides of the debate, who have a distorted sense of the prevalence of expert opinion, and who can be affected by valid explication of the evidence.

BTW, if you show people who believe in climate change evidence that epxerts don't share their view, they reject that too. They reject it even when in fact they are wrong -- e.g., on what scientific consensus is on nuclear power.

Hmmm. As a general statement that would seem to me to be predictable and true.. But I don't think that you can categorically attribute cause-and-effect. In other words,

BTW, if you show people who believe in climate change evidence that epxerts don't share their view, they reject that too.

Who do "people" and "they" refer to? Is your statement true, categorically - as you stated it to be?

I think that there is some value in helping people get a valid assessment of the evidence of where the prevalence of opinion among experts falls out, but sure, many people will approach any such evidence with a filter of bias.

All that said: Information on the prevalence of expert opinion should never be considered dispositive, nor will not move the needle on the debate.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@RobertGrumbine

When scientists try to communicate to an audience and the audience is not getting the message, the failure of communications lies with the scientists, right? I can see the reasoning there, or at least some reasoning. Yet, when communications researchers try to communicate to an audience, in this case, the scientists who are trying to talk to the general public, and their audience doesn't get their message, the failure lies with the audience. How does that work?

Are you addressing me here? B/c I said neither of these things.

I didn’t say a thing here about scientists' failure to commmunciate anything. And what I usually say is that it is a huge mistake to think that what scientists say is important for the formation of public beliefs about climate.

I also routinely point out that doing” and “communicating” the science of science communication are diffferent too & that I never cease to be amazed and distressed at how poorly I make myself understood. I asked for help on that above.

If you are addressing me here, I guess it goes to show that my meanings are in fact 180 degrees different from what I intend!

As a physical scientist (oceanographer/glaciologist), then, what should I be doing? Not a rhetorical question, please do answer and consider.


You should be doing oceanography & glaciology. That’s what you are an expert at doing.

The fact is, I went in to this area because I have certain strengths, and certain weaknesses. Advancing our knowledge of ice and oceans, and doing something useful with that knowledge (or at least helping people who do the useful things understand what I've done) plays to that. i.e., I'm a physical scientist because I'm good at addressing (certain types of) knowledge deficits. This is general to the beast (physical scientists), not just me. If we were much better at, say, journalism, we'd have gone down that career path instead.

You went into your are because you are good at your area. Youre area is doing science, not communicating it. Professional communication among scientists is entirely different from communicating what is known to nonscientists.

The failure to get that is actually part of the cause of the problem we have. What must be communciated for scientists to see the validity of their science doesn’t commmunicate the validity of it to laypeople. And expecting scientists to figure out how to do the latter is like demanding that LeBron James do play-by-play as he dribbles the ball.

It could happen that a scientist in some area is the best “science communicator” too, but it would be rare. To rely on that happening is madness.

In yet another format: If climatology knowledge deficit is _not_ the issue, why should climatologists _not_ go back to their desks?

Knowledge defiicit isn’t the issue. People who “believe” in climate change don’t know more about it than people who don’t; they just have pro-environment attitudes. There’s evidence on this too. . .

People need to accept as known by science many many many many many more things than they could ever possible understand. (Do you think the reason we don’t have cultural polarization n pasteurized milk is that people have a better grasp of the science behind it than about climate change? Or that biologists are better communicators than climate scientists?) They figure out what’s known by figuring out who knows what they are talking about.

When that system breaks down, you can’t fix it by having expert scientists try to commmunicate expert knowledge to lay people.

You can fix it only w/ experts at science communication fix what's broken in the normal systems that normal people normally rely on to know what's known to science.

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Would you blame me if I said, that the very fact that I still find myself explaining what our study (and others I've linked to) say makes me believe there is a reason the people I'm trying to communciate w/ are resisting empirical evidence about communicating climate change as aggressively as anyone is resisting evidence on climate change itself?

Would I blame you? Of course not. It is to be expected, isn't it? But I will note that what you and others explain about cultural cognition is resisted on both sides of the debate. I can't quite tall from your subject of contrast suggests that resistance to the importance of cultural cognition and resistance to evidence on climate change are mutually exclusive in some way.


It feels that way to me. Weird.

I'm confused why you'd think it weird. Doesn't the fundamental pattern of cultural cognition predict what you described?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan, I have said before on your blog, and will say again, that from the skeptic viewpoint the inability of so many social scientists to understand climate skepticism and why the "message isnt getting across" is really quite comical. Your understanding is better than most - at least you can see that there is a problem with the field. But then you blew it in your latest post by saying that you regard cookie & co as serious researchers.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

@Joshua:
I think cultural cogniton is not resisted on both sides. People all seem to agree that it helpfull explains things.
I think the resistance I'm encountering here has to do w/ something deeper about how to *do* what cc involves. Likely it has something to do too w/ nullius in verba as a cultural self-understanding....

But here is a very very very very very thoughtful go at the problem. I'm trying to learn from it.

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Paul:

I am glad at least that you -- & @Larry; I keep him in stiches -- are amused at my befuddlement.

That way there is some positive utility to offset my torment...

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Les:

Thanks.

Your account of what the basic strategy or idea is is correct. If you ask me how to do it, I'll say, you tell me, & I'll measure & find out if you are right.

I will have to listen to that TAL.

I know of Robert INglis. Indeed, I know him & admire him greatly.

You got the "key idea," as I said. But maybe more generally, we shoul dbe creating a world in which what happened to him never happens again.

May 18, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Robert (and Dan) - we have spoken about the medium and about the message. It may be time to speak about the messengers. What gets to the public depends considerably on who manages to get the most airtime, usually determined, vocal, enraged activists attracting journalists like flies to (omissis).

We can huff and puff about anything we can dream of...as long as the communicators are the Manns and Nuccitellis telling Al Jazeera that no debate is ever possible because skeptics are evil members of a conspiracy, everything else will be a reaction to their hype.

Without the hype, there wouldn't even be any remotely recognizable as a community of skeptics. Am afraid climate change communications will remain poisoned and poisonous, as climate scientists keep acquiescent wrt the alarmists.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Joshua,

"We go over this point again and again. You (the personal and definite pronoun usage) are an outlier in this debate."

How do you know? Isn't the lack of definite answers on this sort of question exactly the problem we were discussing?

Paul,

"...that from the skeptic viewpoint the inability of so many social scientists to understand climate skepticism and why the "message isnt getting across" is..."

From the sceptic viewpoint, the question is why we don't understand those people who believe, and why we can't seem to get our message across to them. From a scientific point of view, it's an equally interesting question.

Dan,

My sympathies. It has all rather blown up, hasn't it?
Nevertheless, a good learning experience, I'd say. You ought to do it more often!

But we'll still be here when you've finished your exam marking. (And my sympathies on that, too. I'm afraid I used to hate marking...)

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

How do you know? Isn't the lack of definite answers on this sort of question exactly the problem we were discussing?

Your level of interest.Your level of involvement. Your level of knowledge. Your skills. All huge outliers.

By definition, all of us here are outliers.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

So yes, people who are skeptical about cliamte change believe their position is consistnet with scientific consensus. And if you show them evidence to the contrary, they reject that evidence.

I do not believe that this is true. Most skeptics don't think that consensus is meaningful because it has nothing to do with the scientific method. They are simply pointing out that there is no empirical evidence of the 97% figure. The Oreskes initial claim was such a joke that even the alarmists have avoided referencing it very much. The Zimmerman survey showed that in previous surveys 60% of respondents did not agree with the AGW position yet she rejected the answers because there were too many options given and the data had not been 'adjusted.' Her own study included an appendix in which it was very clear that many of the respondents had very similar concerns as the 'deniers'. The Cooke survey is a joke because an analysis of the papers he looked at showed more skeptical abstracts than true believers.

This is a very simple question to settle. Ask scientists a clear set of questions and see what the responses are. We don't need to adjust the data to create a biased conclusion or throw out most of the papers because they are not written by true believers. It is time to get away from the politics and stick to the science. Sadly, the IPCC and the AGW Industry cannot allow that to happen.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVangel

I am glad at least that you -- & @Larry; I keep him in stiches -- are amused at my befuddlement.

Oh, you're not that funny, Dan -- Seinfeld reruns still have you beat.

Actually, what I said wasn't that you're amusing, but that you're puzzling, for a reason that your most recent post underlined. Like NiV, I appreciate your efforts and sympathize with your befuddlement. But NiV too puts his finger on the problem: how can we get social scientists, exp. those concerned with scientific communication, to see the politics -- and, underlying the politics, the cultural cognition -- inherent in phenomena like the annual repetition of the "97%" meme? I think a recognition of this would go far to ease your torment.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Dan -

I think cultural cogniton is not resisted on both sides. People all seem to agree that it helpfull explains things.

That's very interesting - as I see it very differently.

From what I've seen, as a general rule, it is resisted on all sides - as an explanation for what takes place on one's own side - but not resisted as an explanation for what takes place on the other side. Yes, it is sometimes seen as a "helpful" explanation - but generally only for what takes place on the other side of the debate.

People on both sides of this debate argue that: (1) the reasoning on the other side is corrupted by political, ideological, self-serving, etc. bias (2) the reasoning on their own side is not corrupted by political political, ideological, self-serving, etc (3) "the media" is a biased mechanism that distort public opinion (on issue such as the prevalence of opinion among "experts").

I suppose that I've seen some evidence where people accept cultural cognition as a helpful explanation for what takes place on their own side - but certainly not much. Can you be more specific? In particular, from among people who are heavily engaged in the debate about the scientific evidence?

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan - from your link:

What I find universal among groups I present this to is a desire for good and evil to be placed somewhere on the grid and I must go to some trouble to insist that good and evil does not reside in the group-grid axis but rather in the hearts of men and women.

Yes.

Everyone wants good to be in the quadrants they identify with and evil to be in the quadrants they disassociate with. Consequently, when they see evil in quadrants they might normally associate with, they disassociate themselves. And when they see good in quadrants they might normally disassociate from, they suddenly become soulmates.

But good and evil do not belong in these quadrants. They are not differentially associated with one quadrant or the other. They are more dissimilliarites within quadrants than there are that differentiate one quadrant from another.

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

There's always risk of confusion when we talk of GLOBAL warming and some reply in terms of US politics.

Anyway...I wonder if the Republican Brain meme and Penraeth's Hermits are just the leftist equivalent of the Moral Majority of old?

Likewise, there are clear parallels between Cheney's justification of the Iraq invasion of 2003 and the screams coming from the climate alarmists.

Finally I have a feeling that even the obsession of statistics and number of temp records is just the same obsession that transformed baseball in a collection of percentages.

Yes folks we're all Americans. And victims of American politics.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Dan

Your derisive title, attitude carried through the article, certainly didn't help belief that you considered Cook et al. to be anything other than hopeful idiots at best. Certainly I can't get from this to your later post. But more relevant is the fact that I got here from Revkin's, where he quotes you as saying:


Climate scientists aren’t the only ones whose message never gets through. The “science of science communication consensus” that deficits in knowledge & rationality are not the problem — 99.9999999% agree! — never does either, & to the very people it should be of value too, viz., those trying to promote constructive engagement w/ climate science.

An awful lot of those trying to promote constructive engagement w/ climate science are climatologists. So, yes, looks to me like condemning the climatologists for not being a good audience, while, at the same time, (this post, other parts of your comments quoted by Revkin) not being good communicators.

As a pessimist on the issue, I agree with your comment here that what scientists say is quite irrelevant to the state of public knowledge. Hence damning them, as Kloor does, strikes me as a pretty pointless, at best, activity.

Sometimes I think the climate debate remains stalled because those who are most concerned refuse to ask the pertinent questions. Instead, they keep refighting old battles that are no longer relevant to a constructive discourse. The latest example is this survey by John Cook et al that is getting a lot of undeserved attention in the mainstream media. I say that because, questionable methodology aside, the survey tells us nothing new and is, as science journalist David Appell noted, “a meaningless exercise.”

I alerted him to your update, and he doesn't consider there to be anything for him to change in his article.

It could happen that a scientist in some area is the best “science communicator” too, but it would be rare. To rely on that happening is madness.

Again, I agree. But, if one takes out the climatologists who are "trying to promote constructive engagement w/ climate science", such as me, just who is left? Heartland Institute, CATO, AEI, WUWT, etc. become the overwhelming majority, certainly.

When that system breaks down, you can’t fix it by having expert scientists try to commmunicate expert knowledge to lay people.

You can fix it only w/ experts at science communication fix what's broken in the normal systems that normal people normally rely on to know what's known to science.

Expert scientists (e.g. me) are also attempting to communicate non-expert level science to lay people. I agree that expert level knowledge is not possible; as you say, there are too many topics to know about for anybody to gain expert knowledge in all of them. It's a point I've made to other scientists.

But your closing line contradicts your entire preceding about knowledge deficit not being the issue. It points exactly to there being a knowledge deficit, and that you want to fix it (i.e., the knowledge deficit is indeed the issue). Perhaps 'knowledge deficit' has a specialized meaning in your field, as, say, 'chaos' does in mine. But you should know by now the issues about using your field's specialized terms in public.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Grumbine

@maurizio


Robert (and Dan) - we have spoken about the medium and about the message. It may be time to speak about the messengers. What gets to the public depends considerably on who manages to get the most airtime, usually determined, vocal, enraged activists attracting journalists like flies to (omissis).

We can huff and puff about anything we can dream of...as long as the communicators are the Manns and Nuccitellis telling Al Jazeera that no debate is ever possible because skeptics are evil members of a conspiracy, everything else will be a reaction to their hype.

Without the hype, there wouldn't even be any remotely recognizable as a community of skeptics. Am afraid climate change communications will remain poisoned and poisonous, as climate scientists keep acquiescent wrt the alarmists.

If the only people in public are Mann and Nuccitelli, how do you know anything about whether the rest of us are 'acquiescent' or not?

Again, I'll remind you, there's poisoning going on from more than one side, including self-described 'skeptics'. You do recall the Heartland Institute equating scientists to mass murderers just last year, don't you? Monckton's tours? Monckton having, unlike almost any scientist, been brought in to testify to the Senate about climate science.

Back to media -- it sounds like you figure that if the rest of us (climatologists) weren't 'acquiescent', that we'd be the ones on Al Jazeera (Nightline/Maddow/Limbaugh/Hannity/...). I actually know people who have been on those shows. In every case, it was the media outlet calling up the person and inviting them on. Not one person (that I know personally) got on because they sent in a letter volunteering. I expect that there are some people in the world who could call up one of those shows and get on. But scientists are definitely not in that small group.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Grumbine

The problem is following another survey and paper that John Cook was involved in, there is shall we say a lack of trust with the motivations and behaviour of the author with a number of people, which has not yet been resolved.

Someone who consider the authors as a friend can see this.. So why can we not discuss it. It will not go away, psychology ignorring the isue will just damage psychology. This is also irrelavent about who is write or wrong about climate science, it is about ethics.

PLanet 3.0 - Michael Tobis
"Retraction Watch informs us that Lewandowsky et al’s unusual paper “Recursive fury: Conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation” , which was published in Frontiers in Personality Science and Individual Differences, has been quietly removed (without formally being retracted) from the journal’s website.

I’m sorry to report this as I consider two of the authors to be friends. But there’s no point to pretending this isn’t happening.

The discussion at Reaction Watch is interesting and explains some substantive grounds for complaint. The usual denialist foaming is absent; the complaints on their face are not easily dismissed." Michael Tobis

http://planet3.org/2013/04/03/recursive-fury-backfires/

Lewandowsky and Cook have a paper that is in limbo at Frontiers, and serious questions about a key element of an earlier survey, in dispute. Cook 'decieved' Geoff Chambers about data in a peer revieewed journal. Chambers then finds himself named as a conpiracy theorist in a 'peer-reviewed' journal, by that author..

Yet nobody UWA, journals seems to care.. about the utter ethical conflicts of Lewandowsky and Cook, they are clearly activists (thought they do not see this)

As I have said this elesewhere, please do not be shy about reporting facts - It is widely known and discussed publically, discussing it here is relevant to yet another survey, and is fair comment about something that is clearly in the public domainby I percieve activist psychologists using the field for messaging.

http://climateaudit.org/2013/04/03/tom-curtis-writes/
http://climateaudit.org/2013/03/28/lewandowsky-doubles-down/


If we can't discuss this here, why not?

Also why would anybodytrust this group of authors..

I asked the another professor of psychology, in good faith (had never heard of him) and he 'deceived' me as well, about a key planky of his paper, a paper that media attention was sought for and widely reported in the media, Without that key part, the paper is worthless.

And like Geoff I find myself named in a follow up paper about critics of the earlier paper!, by that author (and Cook)... This is an extraordinary conflict of interets..

Someone (Tobis) who consider the authors as a friend can see these complaints as serious.. So why can we not discuss it. It will not go away, psychology ignorring the issue will just damage psychology. This is also irrelevent about who is write or wrong about climate science, it is about ethics.


Perhaps this comment will not pass moderation, if not, please ask yourself why?

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Bob Inglis has been mentioned, and I'll suggest to Dan makes for a case worth his professional study.

Inglis is undoubtedly a master of the communication strategies Dan writes about. (Not that I know much about Inglis, but being elected multiple times demands that you be excellent at them.) Narrative framing, for instance, was something I heard a former Virginia governor give a micro-lecture on (discussion of how the next candidate from his party should campaign).

Running in his primary most recently, he lost badly, and points to his climate position as the problem. Elected 6 times previously. Creamed in the primary, where he's speaking as a member of the choir to the choir. He didn't need 'pluralistic advocacy' there, and had 'identity affirmation' built in.

Something other than communication expertise is involved, obviously. I also think the fact that polling figures regarding positions/beliefs regarding climate matters point to some of the when this started up. Prior to ca. 2005, regardless of self-identification as Democrat, Independent, or Republican, percentages agreeing with statements about climate were about the same (as eachother, some up and down through time). Since then, self-identified Republicans have diverged, while Democrats and Independents continue to track together, still some up and down through time, but now with Republicans off on their own track. Coming to the voting, and a large number of Independents must still be voting Republican, else Romney couldn't have gotten 47% of the popular vote, so it isn't a simple separation of '2 sides'.

One part of the explanation, imnsho, derives from Lee Fang's book The Machine, which looks at the messaging, machinery and funding of conservative groups.

He says little or nothing about climate; that's not how I reach the conclusion. The thing is, the groups he does talk about -- Heritage Foundation, Heartland Institute, CATO institute, AEI, Koch Brothers, and so on -- I already knew about by virtue of reading climate 'skeptic' sources. I think it unlikely that the machinery built to win national elections and drive national policy on, say, immigration, 'just happens' to also be engaged in poisoning the climate discussion. Effectively enough that a Republican can't get _re_-elected in the Republican _primary_ if he acknowledges climate change has a human component.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert Grumbine

The Zimmermann survey gets a mention or 2 here ( the source of the Doran paper - 97% of scientists.. )

Here is a rhetorical question (with a point)

How many people, scientists (hundreds, thousands) that cite in their peer reviewed papers, the 'Doran survey'' have NOT ACTUALLY READ - M Zimmermann's MSc thesis - The Consensus on the Consensus.. ;-) !

dare I suggest 97% (tongue in cheek) of those people that cite 97% - Doran, have never actually read the 150 page Zimmermann thesis.. which the Doran paper merely cites for the survey results. Dr Adam Corner hadn't (as an example), yet cites Doran a number of times for his 97% consensus citations in his papers (as do Lewandowsky and Cook et al)

I ask, because Cook put out a survey, apparently designed and framed to produce a 'better' more convinceing consensus than earlier papers..

Yet Zimmerman, despite some criticism ealier in the comments here (allthough buried away in her appendices of the paper...) has learned somehing from her survey (unlike Cook et al), that was new to her and challenged her preconceptions:

M Zimmermann:
“This entire process has been an exercise in re-educating myself about the climate debate and, in the process, I can honestly say that I have heard very convincing arguments from all the different sides, and I think I’m actually more neutral on the issue now than I was before I started this project. There is so much gray area when you begin to mix science and politics, environmental issues and social issues, calculated rational thinking with emotions, etc.” M Zimmermann, The consensus on the Consensus, Doran co-author

this nuance is something that Cook et all appeat to want to wish away.

My thoughts on Zimmerman were mentioned earlier in the comments, my concerns were how the 97% soundbite is used in a way that went far beyond the original survey questions, I belive I was the first person to take a look at the original sorce for the Doran paper (online). And again this is already happening with Cook's work - BarackOnbamas tweets say 97% scientists agree about 'dangerous' climate change based on Cook's paper (where does it say dangerous)

My WUWT article about Doran and Anderegg below
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/07/18/what-else-did-the-97-of-scientists-say/

To Skeptical Science (Cook and collegues) the consensu is used as an important piece of messaging in the climate wars. and Cook's website endorsed an attack by M MArriott, on my WUWT article, labelling me (and A Watts) in the process, under the tags: Denial, Disinformation, Bullshit and Verified Bullshit and of most concern Dunning Kruger. I say most concern, because Cook and Marriot were the co-authors and psychology researchers of that response t'Recursive Fury' Frontiers of an earlier survey..

Here is their thoughts on my thoughts, about the earlier Doran and Anderegg surveys, beeing misused in the media.
http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/here-we-go-again-watts-up-with-that-pushing-the-no-consensus-myth/
which Skeptical Science (Cook's website) endorses.

These researcher seem utterly conflicted, and stronly motiovated 'climate activists' but psychology does not seem to want to talk about this problem?

the paper - The consensus on the Consensus - M Zimmermann, is available here -
http://www.lulu.com/shop/m-r-k-zimmerman/the-consensus-on-the-consensus/ebook/product-17391505.html

read the feedback in the appendices.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

oops - left out the link, where Skeptical science (Cook's site) endorse - Wacthing the Denier's (Marriot) 'take down of my WUWT article.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/consensusforbes.html

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

One part of the explanation, imnsho, derives from Lee Fang's book The Machine, which looks at the messaging, machinery and funding of conservative groups.

Interesting to note how prevalent this kind of conspiracist ideation amongst is amongst climate advocates and alarmists. It's not that conservative groups are engaged in raising and publicizing actual objections to models, assumptions and policies of the advocates -- it's that they're maliciously "poisoning the climate discussion"! (As opposed, of course, to the innumerable liberal/"progressive"/"green" groups and a compliant liberal media, who continue to push schemes of massive, decades-long, globally enforced reductions in carbon emissions with little regard for economic costs, but who are merely passive followers of the authority of science.)

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Dan, apologies for the previous somewhat sneery and sarcastic remark.
You ask
"Is there someone studying the science of communicating the science of science communication? " and what are they doing wrong?
Well, having just started looking at the field I would make 2 closely related points
1. The field is supposedly studying how scientists communicate with the public. So you might expect that it would be important for people in the field to work closely with (a) scientists and (b) the public. But this often does not seem to be the case - it seems that they hold meetings in which they talk mostly to each other in their own language.
2. You might expect those working in the field to have good communication skills, but often they don't, using a lot of their own jargon (quite possible without realising that it is technical jargon).

And a related question to you: Has there been a study into how the cultural cognition problem applies to sociologists or psychologists studying science communication or climate scepticism?

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

@RobertGrumbine:

I can see how my title, tone, etc. conveyed that I had low regard for the study authors. I regret that.

But while I don't have low regard for them, I do have a serious disagreement with them.

It's not about the findings in the study. I don't have strong feelings about those. Their methods seem fine, but they do not vary materially from those in previous studies reaching same conclusion & weren't presented at addressing any issues that might have called the validity of previous studies into question.

My disagreement with them is about the prescription the study starts & ends w/: that stressing "consensus" to overcome "public ignorance of what's known to science" is a good focus for science communicators.

The authors should have acknowleded that that has been the strategy for 10 yrs & nothing has happened.

They should have acknowledged that there are studies that try to explain why that is so: that they find that it doesn't do any good to "inform" people of facts under conditoins in which they will simply dismiss as not credible evidence that doesn't fit their cultural predispositions.

They should have told people that there is a lot of work on how to present informatoin -- on facts -- in ways that don't assault people & that therefore make them consider it more open-minded. They should have told people that b/c their only reason for publishing the data in the study -- data that didn't advance knowledge on the extent of scientific consensus -- was to inform & motivate communicators & at a minimum there is serious serious reason to believe that what they are motivating communicators to do won't work and will in fact have a perverse effect....

My tone reflected a judgment that this was a thing Cook et al. shouldn't have done. What I shouldn't have done was express myself in a way that makes me think I think they are not honorable and respectable scholars and people w/ good motives.

But I haven't adjusted my appraisal of what they did here. they & I apparently have a very serious disagreement.

And we should have an exchange of views on that, so that we can both try to make sense of what the other believes, and so others, such as you, can consider the matter and contribute to the discussion as well.

Contribute, btw, in the way you & many others have here -- reflectively and earnestly to a conversation among people who clearly disagree about climate change science but agree about the value of creating a science communication environment in which citizens can reliably use their intelligence to discern what is known to science and make use it of for their ends, individual & collective.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Dan - the problems with Cook et al at methodological level have been presented in details to you. You have not replied to any of those remarks IIRC.

What I mean is if you really really want to take Cook et al at face value you should say so instead of sticking to the untrue ("Their methods seem fine").

Now I am not even sure you have understood how the magical 97% figure has been reached, in Cook et al.

Once again the question is not if the consensus does not exist. The question is if Cook et al have measured the consensus and what kind of consensus. If they haven't, then you might find another good reason why the message doesn't travel across: namely, there are enough smart people that are both interested in the topic and inquisitive enough to understand there is no message to communicate, in Cook et al.

Lay people with a passing interest will easily find both Cook et al and the only meaningful analyses of it, all of them of course by skeptics.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

I would also like to know with whom here I "disagree about climate change science". With details, please ;)

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Paul--
Don't worry! I didn't see anything at all in remarks to take offense at.

And thanks for the points.

I think (1) is true & a problem. It is related to the very perncious resistance of scicomm scholars to do "field" research.

(2) is somewhat true but not a big problem. All professions and all fields of scientific inquiry develop specialized language for pinning down key insights, concepts etc as their conversation unfolds. Bad conversations, bad forms of professionalism and barren forms of inquiry do this too, of course. But good or bad, the use of this device will seem "jargony" to outsiders. The key is for those on the inside not to treat their "jargon" as anything other than what it is -- an efficient form of standardization -- and to set it aside when they are trying to interact & learn from others who have developed professional or scientific knowledge in some other system w/ its own terms. If they do that, no one in either of the intersecting conversations will learn anything. Remember, too, that science of science communication are studying and not doing science communication, so if they use their terms to talk to each other, fine. They should know, of course, that communicating any sort of science to the public-- including their own-- will involve using terms and modes of expression suited for getting across what it makes sense to communicate to the public.

On the application of cultural cognitoin or like framworks (ones, say, focusing on motivated reasoning) to scientistgs or to social scientists-- I haven't done such research, no. But my collaborator Paul Slovicdid do some research at one point on how cultural predispositions influence scientists studying cancer risks. He found that the predispositoins explain a little variance. But not much , and not nearly as much variance as they explain in members of the public.

My own view is that professionals (including scientsits of all sorts) are less likely to be prone to the biasing aspects of cultural congition than are membvers of the public when they are making judgments in their domain. There they will have access to a rich variety of field-specific, profession-specific cues that help them reliably figure out -- and more reliably than the public -- who kinows what they are talking about. But outside of the domain -- they too will have to rely on cultural certification, which works well, but is subject to misfiring, particularly in a polluted science communckiation environnement.

This is, of course, a conjecture. I would like to test it.

I have another prediction to test right now: that @Larry will respond to this comment w/ a withering attack on my view of the relationship between professional habits of mind and cultural predispositions....

May 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Maurizo:

You would know better than I w/ whom you disagree on climate science -- or on what is to be made of the evidence on it. You must disagree w/ someone b/c it is clear that people here are not all in agreement.

On Cook et al.'s methods. YOu and others have referred me to refutations of earlier studies, including the one that appeared in PNAS in 2010. I'd like to read those & plan to. It does seem clear to me that Cook et al. don't mean to be responding to the critique that you are adverting to -- & so I say I don't see their study as giving anyone a reason to change their views in relation to the earlier studies. That is all.

The methods in Cook do seem "fine" to me. They defined a set of papers (denominator) & then applied a technique for determining what they said on AGW (numerator). That's all one can do.

I think the challenge in this approach is to specify what goes into the denominator in an acceptable way -- one that doesn't bias the result b/c it consists in sources that will in effect treat agreement with AGW as a criteria for selection, in which case the result is circular. I think their criteria were defensible. But I asked "skeptics" what they thought the denominator should be -- a few thousand msgs ago. I'd have to go back to check to see what they say.

But I asked only b/c I'm curious. I don't really know how to appraise the research here. Cook et al. seem fine to me; I suspect I'd see alaternatives that were defended in explicit and defensible terms as "fine" too. Researchers can disagree about such things all the time -- w/o anyone being a liar, an idiot etc.

But I am interested in -- I study, this blog and offshoot conversations are about -- the science of science communication. There are things to say and issues to discuss here that don't depend on the answer to questions being researched by cliimate scientists -- or by people measyuring the proporition of scientists who believe a particular thing. So i prefer to steer conversation toward the science comunication issues that have that characteristic.

Is this reasonable do you think? Is it possible -- conceptually, practically?

May 19, 2013 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I have another prediction to test right now: that @Larry will respond to this comment w/ a withering attack on my view of the relationship between professional habits of mind and cultural predispositions....

Always happy to oblige -- and it's kind of a comfort, in a fashion, to be predictable. So, "withering attack":

It would be nice, wouldn't it, if we actually could find some body of human beings who, at least within a defined area, could really be relied upon to provide us with "the Truth", or as close to it as we can get. And I know, of course, that that's the modern myth of "the Scientist", the lab-coated, almost monk-like figure who, even on the most contentious of issues, where all their deepest values, hopes, dreams, and ideals are concerned, can nevertheless remain unaffected by them -- and unaffected as well by not just all the pressures of group conformity, but in this case by pressures from the surrounding institutions of employers, funders, and publishers, many of whom are made up of people not themselves subject to the Scientist's "field-specific, subject-specific cues" -- and deliver us objective, disinterested, impersonal, de-politicized Truth. It's a nice myth, in other words, but nevertheless a myth, and not in a good sense. It's not a good myth simply because it can be, has been, and is being used as a kind of cover or shield for what would otherwise be obvious political/ideological/cultural agendas of various sorts.

That said, it actually can be the case that "professionals (including scientists of all sorts) are less likely to be prone to the biasing aspects of cultural congition than are members of the public when they are making judgments in their domain" (emphasis added). But two important further points: first, "less" doesn't mean "not", and that makes a considerable difference. And second, "in their domain" means that on any matter outside of their domain -- e.g., consequences, effects, and especially policies -- their opinions are simply those of "members of the public".

I know, of course, that so predictable a response is written off in advance, and that just points up the Kabuki nature of the "debate", not just over this, but over any other contentious issue, as seen through the lens of the static categories of "cultural cognition" theory. But I'm content to act out my part, in the hope that some few will remain amenable to a real dialogue.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLarry

Larry is if anything, too kind... ;)

Dan wrote:

My own view is that professionals (including scientsits of all sorts) are less likely to be prone to the biasing aspects of cultural congition than are membvers of the public when they are making judgments in their domain.

My own view, based on the work of Robespierre et al, is that professionals (including scientists of all sorts) are more likely to be prone to the biasing aspects of cultural cognition than are members of the public when they are making judgments in their domain if that domain entails aspects linked to Public Health.

IOW if Public Health is at stake, all sorts of wild conjectures will be transformed by otherwise thinking scientists into something very similar to snake oil: Pauli and Vitamin C for example, or the consensus about stomach ulcers before Marshall and Warren, or the war against salt that is unraveling as we speak.

This might apply to other topics outside of Public Health: just as the scientist is in a better position than the lay person on understanding a topic, they are in an easier position to misunderstand it completely: because the trust in their own judgement will make them unaware of when they are just wrong.

Some readers might be reminded by the above of Peter Parker's uncle's famous words.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

Dan

I have a feeling that there is little disagreement or none at all about climate science. The only disagreement is if the current knowledge in the field justifies closing both eyes wrt propagandistic rubbish such as Cook et al.

In fact at least IMNSHO it does not even matter if the magical 97% is a correct figure. What matters is that it has been concocted in an extremely wrong manner.

If 0.7% of a basketball crowd throws coins at Team-A when they are playing against Team-B, it does NOT mean 99.3% of the crowd were supporters of Team-A. Whoever goes for that (eg Cook et al) is wrong wrong wrong and undeserving of any discussion about what their numerator and denominator should have been.

And that's also something with consequences on the communication side. If I can stretch things a lot, if I were to find anybody making antisemitic remarks or throwing words like "ni***r" casually around I would not spend a second trying to help them understand the racial question(s).

As far as I am concerned Cook (Mann, Nuccitelli, Plait, Mooney, Oreskes, the Royal Society, a long list of UK govt Chief Scientists, Prince Charles, Pachauri, Supermandia, Hansen etc etc and in a lesser way Gavin Schmidt) are out there to poison the well and break all communications (in fact, any debate about climate change is big news, and pretty much everybody in the list above refuses to even share a platform with anybody with any meaningful question).

How can your effort on science communication succeed, with such a set of characters working against it? The hype, is the noise that overwhelms any communication.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Maurizio:
Now, what profession was Robespierre a member of? And Peter Parker's uncle -- was it something like, be sure to wear safety equipment when doing experiments?

I now predict someone -- @Ed perhaps, except he's nowhere to be seen -- will leap up & say there is too very much disagreement here on the science too.

I realy don't know what's going on w/ the science. Or actually I'm as confident as ever that do know but realize that this is not the sort of environment in which I can have the usual confidence I have in the faculties I rely on to orient me appropriately with regard to what's known to us collectively through use of science.

That's a very awful position for us to be in. No matter who or what we believe.

Do you agree? If you do, then I think we can reason our way out this mess. Scientifically

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Dan - was the Robespierre reference not clear enough? He was in charge of the Committee of Public Safety, better translated with the more ambiguous Committee of Public Health.

I am ok if you want to forget the details of the science. Why is then that so many people are ready to lie, invent, proscribe, and worse when Public Health appears to be at stake? Why are most of those topics, and in particular climate change, so absolutely impervious to communication? Why are successive improbable demons are identified, be them a stressful life, the Cannabis plant, or CO2?

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Maurizio:
I think Robespierre's profession is open to multiple intepretations -- as is the concept of a Committee of Public Safety.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Hm... How is it that everyone seems to be missing the point that, this research paper is not a survey of scientists, per se. It is a survey of the research.

When you read the 66% figure of "no opinion" that does not mean the scientist who wrote the paper had no opinion. It means the paper and the research that was the subject of the paper itself expressed no opinion one way or another.

It's entirely probable that many papers, coming from one author, could have a variety of positions. If a researcher authored 10 papers that were rated, that might mean 3 were rated explicit support of AGW, 2 implicit support of AGW and 5 neutral. Heck, you might even have a single author that published research supporting both sides. You could very clearly also have researchers who personally belief one way but have one of the research papers support the opposite conclusion.

The overall point of the study, it seems to me, is that the overwhelming body of research that comes to a conclusion one way or another is in support of AGW.

May 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBuzz

Kahan conjecture:
Professionals (including scientists of all sorts) are less likely to be prone to the biasing aspects of cultural cognition than are members of the public when they are making judgments in their domain.

Matthews & Morabito conjecture:
Professionals (including climate scientists and sociologists) are just as susceptible to cultural cognition/groupthink/confirmation bias as the general public.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

Paul

just add "and more susceptible than the general public, in matters of Public Health"

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaurizio Morabito

@Paul & @Maurizio:

Yes, those are the competing hypotheses. And I agree that M&M is plausible. More conjectures are plausible than are true; that is why it's necessary to do empirical testing!

Describe a study design for testing the hypotheses. Both at once, too, since those are the best kinds of studies (testing a single hypothesis against the "null" is boring & filled w/ other problems).

Here are some papers that are relevant, both to designing such a study & to assessing the plausibility of M&M (they don't settle the matter at hand, though):

Koehler, J.J. The Influence of Prior Beliefs on Scientific Judgments of Evidence Quality. Org. Behavior & Human Decision Processes 56, 28-55 (1993).

Wilson, T.D., DePaulo, B.M., Mook, D.G. & Klaaren, K.J. Scientists' Evaluations of Research. Psychol Sci 4, 322-325 (1993).

p.s. @Maurizio: One of your comments from yesterday -- the one asking about why this site was classified "sex education" & blocked from access via some workplace internet connections (news to me)-- ended up temporarily detained in the spam folder. The answer is likely connected to exactly what happened to your comment!

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

I have no doubt that John Cook and his colleagues could carry out a rigorous academic study that would prove that the K conjecture was 97% correct.
And a group of climate sceptics could produce a paper that would prove that the M&M conjecture is correct.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Matthews

@Buzz

The overall point of the study, it seems to me, is that the overwhelming body of research that comes to a conclusion one way or another is in support of AGW.

No it does not. There is a great deal of literature that points to the sun and other natural factors as the driver of climate change. Even Gore used research that showed that CO2 concentrations FOLLOWED changes in temperature trends hundreds of years later. As such changes in CO2 levels were the effect of climate change, not the driver of it.

And then we have the von Storch survey, which asked quite clear questions and found that 60% of scientists disagreed with the AGW position. Lewinsky and others threw out the conclusions because they felt that the scientists were given too many options. The simple fact is that the AGW crowd has had PR people running campaigns for decades and has yet to convince scientists or the public of its position. The reasons are obvious; the public and other scientists can detect falsehoods without that much difficulties and all of the shrill and contradictory responses by the pro-AGW crowd have turned opinion against it. Given that those opinions are backed up by sound empirical evidence it will be hard for the AGW crowd to make a comeback and regain what is left of its credibility. Cook and company are not helping with their transparent attempts to deceive.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVangel

the real issue is not how much support of AGW... (as a simplistic yes/no)

... but how much AGW you might expect to come in the future

different sensitivities, different policies, or even no policy, beyond wait and see for a bit

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/5/20/ecs-with-otto.html

http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/5/20/reactions-to-otto-et-al.html

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

@Paul:
Then I would propose that M&M & Cook, or M&M & dmk38, collaborate. All we need to do is agree on a design in advance. I don't think that would be too difficult, really.

May 20, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterdmk38

Dan, I'm philosophically and politically conservative, and do believe that humans have the potential and probably are impacting climate. Unfortunately, the public doesn't believe largely because the credibility gap of climate scientists who have blurred the line between objective science and advocacy. When climate hysterics talk about the apocolyptic results of climate change, the vast majority of the public don't see it happening, so don't believe it's happening. It comes down to the lack of credible voices on both sides of the political spectrum. The Rush Limbaughs who wholly deny any thing and the Jim Hansons who claim the world will soon come to an end are equally to blame for the public's skeptism. In addition, while many conservatives and libertarians accept that climate change is occurring they are unwilling to accept the radical solutions proposed by climate campaigners. We need greater credible voices on this matter, as I discuss on my blog (where i also cite your work) and over time the public perception will change.

Brent

June 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterB. Fewell

"Given these conditions, a fully developed strong appeal to authority will be an instance of the following scheme:
PREMISE 1: X is an authority with credentials c, who believes and states y.
PREMISE 2: Credentials c are relevant to y.
PREMISE 3: is not biased.
PREMISE 4: There is wide agreement among the relevant experts over y.
PREMISE 5: y is an appropriate field in which consensus is possible.
CONCLUSION: y should be accepted."

--Groarke/Tindale "Good Reasoning Matters" (Informal Logic text)
http://goo.gl/bxVpU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvB9EFdJ1d0&t=28m0s

What is most interesting, is not that the 'consensus' is persuasive, but that there is one. A rational person should take a 97% consensus in any field and if they are not ideologically driven, then this is a powerful justification for belief in that consensus. Why it doesn't work with the public? I don't care. The important story here is the consensus--one of the most powerful rational justification for belief.

July 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterjoe

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>