Annual "new study" finds 97% of climate scientists believe in man-made climate change; public consensus sure to follow once news gets out
Friday, May 17, 2013 at 7:50AM
Dan Kahan

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?!



Update on Friday, May 17, 2013 at 9:48AM by Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Fittingly, I discover that I am the one reporting yesterday's news!  Keith Kloor makes the point I'm getting at, only much more incisvely.

But now it occurs to me to say something else -- or pose a question -- that might genuinely add something to the discussion.

Why doesn't the "scientific consensus" of science communication scholars -- that bombarding the public w/ "scientific data" on scientific consensus is no more effective (and for exactly the same reasons) than bombarding them w/ "scientific data" on climate change -- ever get through?  Why year in & year out do they have to say this?  

This is actually more puzzling than the question why the public isn't receptive to scientific consensus on climate change.  

There we know that evidence on the extent and nature of such consensus can't pass through the filter of cultural cognition (or can't unless the cultural meaning of the information is adjusted too).

But the "scientific consensus" of science communication scholars is being communicated to parties who, presumably, have every reason to be receptive to it.  Those who want to promote constructive public engagement with climate science need to understand what the nature of the problem is so that they can adopt responsive solutions.

Yet too many of them (by no means all, but too many) persistently disregard the evidence that the problem is the antagonistic cultural meanings that pervade the science communication environment. They keep pounding the data, and with a rhetorical hammer that drives home all the symbolism that generates distrust and resistance in larger parts of the population. . . .  Why?

Is there someone studying the science of communicating the science of science communication? And can she please please tell me what I and others studying public science communication are doing wrong in communicating our work?  

Likely she has a blog site and has posted my post & said -- "Look, Kahan still doesn't get what I'm saying about how to communicate science communication science! Ha ha ha ha ha ... wait a sec. ... this actually isn't so funny; it's a tragedy..."

Article originally appeared on cultural cognition project (
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