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Wednesday
Feb182015

On becoming part of a polluted science communication environment while studying it....

From a correspondent, cc'ing me

Dear National Geographic Forum,
 
 
I am an engineer who, in addition to engineering-related courses, also studied geology, geophysics and even a little astronomy at the undergraduate and graduate level. In short, a big fan of science and rational thought, especialy applied science like engineering.
 
I firmly believe in climate change but find that the claim that it is "human-made" is total rubbish.  
Rather I think the human-made claim is driven by "tribalism", just like Professor Dan Kahan of Yale Law School ascribes to the "barber in a rural town in South Carolina". (And seriously, good he be any more elitist and patronizing? North vs. South, City Mouse vs. Country Mouse, Perfesser of Law vs. Barber, etc.)
 
In fact, the tribal forces at work on researchers and politicians are much more pronounced. 
It's not just about losing customers, it's about fame, glory, popularity and - most important - money.  
Think Oscars, think Nobel Prizes, think tapping into the hundreds of millions of dollars (billions?) out there for the taking.
 
All you have to do is run the same flawed computer programs, fiddle with the data when necessary, and confirm, affirm, re-affirm The Consensus.
 
And, if that isn't enough enticement, you also get to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude when talking about "Skeptics".  I mean, it's no accident that your article states "How to convert the skeptics?"
 
Maybe you should take a look in the mirror.
 
When you liken the more than half of Americans who don't believe the Earth is warming because humans are burning fossil fuels to "loopy... flat-Earthers" you are reinforcing tribalism.
 
Sincerely,
 
My response

Thanks, ***. 

I'm going to put aside "who is right" on climate change and also how the sorts of influences I study bear on the production of climate science or any other form of science. One can't reliably draw any inferences from studies of how dynamics like identity-protective cognition affect public opinion, on the one hand, to how the same dynamics affect the expert judgments of scientists or any other group of professionals (like judges, say!), on the other.  If one wants to figure out if the conclusions of expert decisionmakers are being biased by identity-protective cogntion or comparable dynamics, then one has to perform valid studies on samples of the experts in question as they apply their professional judgment to the types of problems for which it is suited.

But I agree with the science-communication points you are raising here.

I don't think it is useful at all to characterize as "anti-science" the 50% of US general population who, using exactly the same forms of reasoning as those who conclude that best evidence supports belief in AGW, conclude that the best evidence doesn't support it. 

On the contrary, I think the dynamics that generate these sorts of characterizations are exactly what prevent culturally diverse citizens from converging, as they usually do, on what science knows. 

Some papers that address these points; happy to receive the benefit of any comments (including critical ones) you have on them:

Kahan, D.M. What is the "Science of Science communication"? J. Sci. Comm. (in press). 

Kahan D.M. Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem. Advances in Political Psychology (in press). 

Kahan, D. Fixing the Communications Failure. Nature 463, 296-297 (2010).

I often find my and my collaborators' research cited -- by both "left" & "right" (those are crude ways to characterize the relevant cultural groups, but they are good enough here) -- to "explain" why the "other side" is dogmatic, anti-science, stupid, etc.   

That sort of misinterpretation of our findings is part of exactly the phenomenon we are studying: the forces that drive people to misconstrue empirical evidence in patterns congenial to their cultural outlooks.

Indeed, for a study of how people misconstrue evidence relating to the open-mindedness & critical reasoning capacities of those who disagree w/ them on contested science issues, take a look at Kahan, D.M. Ideology, Motivated Reasoning, and Cognitive Reflection, Judgment and Decision Making 8, 407-424 (2013).  The most demoralizing thing is that this tendency is most pronounced in individuals with highest proficiency in critical reasoning.... 

Makes me wonder sometimes whether there's any point in trying to use empirical evidence to fix this problem.

But it takes only about 15 seconds to conclude that of course that would be the wrong conclusion to draw.

Because for one thing, any scholar who gets the benefit of being supported by a liberal democratic society to do scientific research would have to be a moral cretin not to recognize that he or she owes that society's members whatever he or she can contribute to protecting their science communication environment from the sort of toxins that deprive liberal democratic citizens of the benefits of all the scientific knowledge their way of life makes possible.

There is one more thing I want to be sure I express my agreement with:  I don't doubt for a second that I myself, in the course of trying to address these matters, will blunder, either as a result of being subject to the same dynamics I'm studying or to simple failings in judgment or powers of expression.  And as a result, I'll end up conveying, contrary to my own intentions and ambitions, the very sort of partisan meanings that I believe must be purged from the science communication environment.

I don't resent being told when that happens; I am chastened, but grateful. 

Take care. 

--Dan

p.s.

It's in people's self-interest to form beliefs that connect rather than estrange them from those whose good opinion they depend on (economically, emotionally, and otherwise).  As a result, we should expect individuals' cultural outlooks to have a very substantial impact on their climate change risk perceptions.

At the same time, the beliefs that the typical member of the public forms about climate change will likely have an impact on how she gets along with people she interacts with in her daily life. A Hierarchical Individualist in Oklahoma City who proclaims that he thinks that climate change is a serious and real risk might well be shunned by his coworkers at a local oil refinery; the same might be true for an Egalitarian Communitarian English professor in New York City who reveals to colleagues that she thinks that “scientific consensus” on climate change is a “hoax.” They can both misrepresent their positions, of course, but only at the cost of having to endure the anxiety of living a lie, not to mention the risk that they’ll slip up and reveal their true convictions. Given how much they depend on others for support—material and emotional—and how little impact their beliefs have on what society does to protect the phys-ical environment, they are better off when they form perceptions of climate change risk that minimize this danger of community estrangement.

In contrast, what an ordinary individual believes and says about climate change can have a huge impact on her interactions with her peers. If a professor on the faculty of a liberal university in Cambridge Massachusetts starts saying "cliamte change is ridiculous," he or she can count on being ostracized and vilified by others in the academic community. If the barber in some town in South Carolina's 4th congressional district insists to his  friends & neighbors that they really should believe the NAS on climate change, he will probably find himself twiddling his thumbs rather than cutting hair.

 

* * *

At the same time, the beliefs that the typical member of the public forms about climate change will likely have an impact on how she gets along with people she interacts with in her daily life. A Hierarchical Individualist in Oklahoma City who proclaims that he thinks that climate change is a serious and real risk might well be shunned by his coworkers at a local oil refinery; the same might be true for an Egalitarian Communitarian English professor in New York City who reveals to colleagues that she thinks that “scientific consensus” on climate change is a “hoax.” They can both misrepresent their positions, of course, but only at the cost of having to endure the anxiety of living a lie, not to mention the risk that they’ll slip up and reveal their true convictions. Given how much they depend on others for support—material and emotional—and how little impact their beliefs have on what society does to protect the phys-ical environment, they are better off when they form perceptions of climate change risk that minimize this danger of community estrangement.

 

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Reader Comments (34)

"One would have to study samples of the professionals in question to see whether their reasoning is affected by identity-protective cognition when they make judgments inside the domains of their own expertise"

For a decent first pass, why not simply look at historical precedents? I think you're missing the sheer scale...

Strong cultures can not only shift mere judgmental boundaries such as those enclosing professional domains, they can shift the entire social topography, including much deeper social characteristics such as values and even morals and also the law that enforces these. CAGW is busy shifting all those as we speak, and whole mountains of small-scale professional judgments have for decades now been bulldozed via noble cause corruption and emotive bias and other effects into supporting the primary culture. History is replete with cultures that support a consensus on the unknowable or [in hindsight] the outright wrong, and such cultures have fielded entire armies of professional experts who shot down any opposition, to the extent that one can conclude this is a very normal symptom of society. All religions, Lysenkoism (a component of Stalinist culture) and Eugenics, are just some examples. My favorite is the culture of the Lambayeque, which enforced the consensus that via man-made mountains (constructed with enormous effort), the elite of their society could predict and control El-Ninos / La-Ninas. Needless to say the big flaw in this culture did eventually become rather obvious; after disastrous floods caused by the above phenomena it was not at all good to be one of the elite. ‘The Pause’ is rather similarly stretching the credibility of the current climate elite and their models (despite some increase in sophistication of technique since the days of the Lambayeque). And not to mention that even mere professional elitism, a far weaker force than a full culture, managed to retard the acceptance of Continental Drift for several decades. A lack of early evidence for or against did not cause professionals to remain cautious and undecided; the geological community poured scorn upon Wegner’s work and actively resisted advancement of the theory, effectively enforcing a consensus that it must be false. Many domain experts in this period were meaningfully affected, in a big way, by peer pressure.

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

"On the contrary, I think the dynamics that generate these sorts of characterizations are exactly what prevent people w/ diverse cultural outlooks from failing to converge, as they usually do, on what conclusions the currently best available evidence signifies."

Yes. Cultures cause polarization, orthodoxy and skepticism, hence lack of convergence.

In observing countries like the US, where there is left / right official party splits on climate change policy, and countries like the UK, where there is official party embracing of climate change policy across left, right and center, and yet where there is major skepticism in both countries, from where do you think the chief cultural influence arises?

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@AndyWest:

For sure there are personal/professional/economic & like dynamics that impede correction of error within science. Those dynamics aren't identity-protective cognition actually; but so what-- they slow the progress of knowledge.

Pretty sure everyone would agree with that.

The problem is that *knowing* that that is true -- and agreeing it is something to be concerned about -- doesn't help one to figure out whether it is happening in any particular case.

The particular case we are now discussing is the judgment of climate scientists. I don't know whether their judgment is being affected by these dynamics; so necessarily I don't know whether I should discount scientific consensus on AGW.

You propose to offer some evidence to help me. But when you include what you regard as the mistaken scientific consensus on climate change as one of the "historical precedents" that I should regard as evidence that climate scientists' judgments are being distorted in any of these ways, can you see why I don't feel like I've been given any additional evidence to believe one thing vs. another?

Why not conduct a genuine, valid experiment? Don't tell me it can't be done!

February 18, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Andy -

Out of curiosity - given that people who accept the "consensus" view of climate change have many beliefs on many topics, which they may or may not share with each other - by what logic do you subordinate all those other beliefs to determine that they are part of your "climate culture" - where their views on climate change become the defining attribute for the group?

And seriously? You're drawing comparisons between people who accept the "consensus" view on climate change and people who put people in gulags, people who call for forced sterilization, and idol-worshipers from the 800s?

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Andy -

From the previous thread:

===> "Per your text on the climate discussion: If you look at any individual exchange or small-scale debate (assuming no trolling or other outright emotive outliers, and equally matched intellect), one would not theoretically be able to tell if one side of an intense debate was much more culturally driven than the other. "

Right. Although we could predict based on fairly well-supported evidence that both sides would assert that their own side is driven by a clear-eyed quest for scientific truth while the other side could be characterized as a pathological "culture" that reflects presidents such as cultural movements that put people in gulags, called for forced sterilization, and worshiped idols in the 8th Century.

==> "So, one has to step back and look at the larger context in which those players are embedded, and indeed trace that context over some length of time."

Right. So to do that, one would need to undertake a process of gathering evidence, empirically - as Dan has done.

==> "Yet allowed context, it would see that the priest is embedded in an overwhelmingly powerful (for the era) cultural context that has permanently blinded said priest to critical parts of his opponent's position."

Sounds to me rather like "skeptics" who claim that themselves and people who share their view on climate change are superior in their clear-eyed focused on the truth of scientific evidence

==> " Similarly, one has to step back from the climate debate cut-and-thrust of which you speak, and ask 'who is embedded in what cultural contexts?'

Do you claim that you do that, Andy? Really? If so, by what measure do you do that? Dan does it, IMO, (albeit imperfectly) by engaging in evidence analysis in line with a scientific method that has intrinsic structures that help to control for biasing influences. What is the scientific method that you use for your unbiased analysis? What controls do you use for your data collection. What are your experimental designs by which you test your hypotheses?

==> "Step 1: who are the cultural players involved? An understandable error in the US is to cite left-wing and right-wing culture."

Dan studies how the beliefs of groups align across a variety of items within a world-view construct. Are you suggesting that his analysis fits into your simplified left-right paradigm?

==> " But the more polarized left-right thing here (Dan's blog is US based :) tends to hide the fact that there is a third player, climate culture itself."

What is the "climate culture?" How have you gone about, in a scientific manner, defining this culture? What evidence have you collected to define this culture? What was your original hypothesis? How did you confirm your hypothesis? And of course, as a "skeptic," how did you go about controlling for your own biases in your scientific undertaking to define the "climate culture>

==> "Per my reply to Brian above, on average about 2 in 3 Dem/Libs do not place climate change as a top priority relative to US domestic issues,"

Hmm. That seems a bit problematic to your determination that there is a "climate culture."


I'll leave this here for now before delving into the rest.

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

how many errors will I find now that I've decided to error-check after posting?

Obviously, that should be precedents, not presidents. :-)

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan -

==> "I often find my and my collaborators' research cited -- by both "left" & "right" (those are crude ways to characterize the relevant cultural groups, but they are good enough here) -- to "explain" why the "other side" is dogmatic, anti-science, stupid, etc. "

You have to appreciate the multi-dimensional and symmetrical irony in seeing both sides selectively use and then reject your research as it suits their purpose at any particular time.

February 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

February 18, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

The historical precedents are of course not CAGW but Eugenics, Lysenkoism, the suppression of tectonics (all science based) plus all religions (similar cultural effects, not science based). I describe the effects as they occur with CAGW, not to include this in precedents.

When a strong culture is at work, you can't separate it from personal/professional/economic & like dynamics, because a culture will work through all these dimensions and more.

Of course one should experiment. And of course one should also take historic precedent into account. The ability of humans to conform to cultural consensus is ubiquitous. You say you don't know whether climate scientists are affected or not. Good. Then step 1 is to find out if they are or are not embedded in, or at least influenced by, a culture. If you don't look for a culture or cultural effects, you sure won't find any. And if you pin climate orthodoxy to 'absolute truth', as you appear to do in your 'whats going on inside their heads' analysis, then you have automatically ruled out a culture. So let the truth float.

Are you seriously telling me you see NO cultural effects within the environmental domain? With NO emotive narrative around imminent catastrophe and human causation for instance? Once you admit a cultural dimension to climate change, we can start to discuss the qualitative and quantitative impacts that has. If you admit to NO cultural effects, I gotta say that for a project called 'cultural cognition', this'd be pretty ironic.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@dan

Folks can happily belong to 2 or more cultures at a time. And Christianity, for instance, does not suppress many beliefs on many topics.Plus all Christians do not share identical views (even on Christianity!). Cultures do not subordinate all other beliefs, and CAGW is no different in that respect. I thought cultures were part of your knowledge base here?. They can and do bias views and beliefs, and they are domain orientated; they can and do suppress in core domain much more so than domain edge, and not at all outiside domain.

The second thing to be aware of is who is only 'allied' to culture, and who is fully absorbed in it. If you perceive both these as 'believers' you will get some strange results. So for instance a big majority of Dem / Libs say they 'believe' in climate change. Yet (on average) 2 in 3 of them place climate change very far down in a list of domestic US priorities (11th in the Gallup 2014 poll). Whatever climate change these 2/3 believe in, it isn't the one requiring top priority global action to save the planet. They are revealed not as believers, but in alliance. Their political allegiance (identity issue) invokes the alliance. About 8-10% of Rep / Cons place climate change top in the same kind of polls, showing more concern for the planet than 2/3 of democrats. These guys, plus the 1/3 of Dem / Libs who place the issue top, are cultural adherents. The others who profess believe, are only in alliance, and will have a much wider range of views, which clearly includes a lack of support when it comes to the crunch.

Cultures typically have many positive and negative things going on in them at once. They can be net negative, net positive, forceful, or less so. To say that cultures can produce gulags and sterilization does not mean that all cultures and all cultural effects are going to lead there. Cultural effects lead for instance to enormous charitable efforts, benign and positively motivating nationalism, and a host of things good and bad. To point out that CAGW is a culture, does not automatically mean gulags and sterilization. To cite precedents for science spawed cultures (or more accurately cultural cross-coalitions that included these), which went very bad, does not mean CAGW will go that way. But yes it has the potential to, just like any culture, just as it has the potential to do great good too. Same with religions for instance, which clearly have done much of in the past and now. What matters to us here and now is: what influence is it having, especially on the science?

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

apologies, mistook Joshua's first for another Dan. The answer remains the same though :)

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Andy -

==> "Plus all Christians do not share identical views (even on Christianity!).

My point is that it is hard to reconcile how Jim Wallis and Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps could all be considered as part of the same culture.

I think that your definition of what comprises a "culture" and in this case the "climate culture," indeed the very notion of a "climate culture" itself, is arbitrary (in the sense of being based on selective evidence gathering).

What is the "climate culture?" How have you defined it? What is the underlying hypothesis? What evidence have you collected to support that definition? How have you collected it? How have you controlled, as someone who is heavily invested in the discussion and heavily identified within the discussion, for your own biases in your hypothesis testing?

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

==>Although we could predict… … while the other side could be characterized as a pathological…

No. Who said anything about pathological?? Cultures are not a disease! Everyone on the planet is absorbed in multiple strong cultural influences, and most folks in at least one strongly bounded and coherent enough bundle of these that can be termed ‘a culture’. Heck 70% of the global population is still religious, and there are various secular cultures too. Are you calling all these folks ill? They are not!

==>… one would need to undertake a process of gathering evidence, empirically - as Dan has done

Absolutely! And Dan’s evidence to date is great. The stronger polarization of the science aware is precisely what one would expect if the climate consensus was a culturally enforced consensus and not a scientific truth. No need to put millions of US citizens in the ‘duality’ (a real but obscure and minor behavior) bucket, per Dan’s proposition. Rather a dangerous step down the road of calling them all crazy.

==> If so, by what measure do you do that? Dan does it, IMO, (albeit imperfectly) by engaging in…

Per the post at Climate Etc recently, I was using chiefly Dan’s own data, supplemented by a few Gallup / Pew etc polls asking similar questions of the public (for wider context). I think it’s great that Dan is doing this work and I appreciate very much that someone is doing the slog to help sort all this out.

==> Are you suggesting that his analysis fits into your simplified left-right paradigm?
Dan’s model regarding the climate domain is chiefly a 1-dimensional left-right (as far as I can see). My model is chiefly 2 dimensional, left, right, and climate culture, of which the latter is unsurpringly the chief mover in the climate domain. See the 2D cultural diagram in recent Climate Etc post.

==> What is the "climate culture?"

See ‘The CAGW memeplex’ post at Climate Etc. Warning: Long post, which is just an intro, yet points the much, much longer essay for substance.

==>Hmm. That seems a bit problematic to your determination that there is a "climate culture."
Why?? The fact that there is a climate culture does not mean everyone is in it, anymore than the fact of Hindu culture means everyone is a Hindu. In fact it’s great evidence of a culture at work. Another universal feature of cultures is social cross-coalitions. Per other reply above, the ~2/3 of Democrats who place cc at such a low priority are only ‘in alliance’ with climate culture, invoked by party allegiance, i.e. Dem/Libs have a strong cross-coalition with climate culture. Rep / Cons have a weak one, but not zero! The aforementioned Dem / Libs will answer ‘yes’ to belief in mmgw (invokes identity / allegiance – per Dan’s noted effects), but do not realistically support this ‘ultimate problem’ in a meaningful way. The 1/3 who *do* place cc at top priority, are the ones actually within climate culture, rather than just allied. Reminds me a bit of the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic religious believers, though I’d have to think on that more . Anyhow, the point being that if cc did not invoke cultural effects and the consensus was instead an accepted scientific truth, all those who professed belief in mmgw *must* also place it as the top or near top issue, because the climate consensus *does* include the narrative of urgent action to avoid planetary catastrophe, as transmitted by presidents and prime ministers on down.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

==> "No. Who said anything about pathological??"

Read virtually any comment thread, if not original post, in the "skept-o-sphere"' and you will see the view of "warminstas" as "true believers" in a sociopathic ideology that is based on an indifference to the starving of millions of poor children in Africa. Lysenkoism. McCarthyism,. Communists. Nazis. Genghis Khan. Blah, blah.

==> "Cultures are not a disease! "

In many a comment thread, if not necessarily original post in the "skept-o-sphere," and you will see analogizing of a concern about the risks of BAU as a disease.

==> "Everyone on the planet is absorbed in multiple strong cultural influences,"

Again, I don't understand your definition of "culture" here.

==> "and most folks in at least one strongly bounded and coherent enough bundle of these that can be termed ‘a culture’."

This seems entirely arbitrary to me. What are the inclusion/exclusion criteria you use to define a "culture?"

==> "Heck 70% of the global population is still religious,"

So are you saying that there is a "religious culture." I have no idea what that could be.

==> "and there are various secular cultures too."

Are you saying that there is a culture of secularism? By what measures are you assigning me, as a secular Jew, to the same culture as secular Buddhists and Shintoists in Japan?

==> "The stronger polarization of the science aware is precisely what one would expect if the climate consensus was a culturally enforced consensus and not a scientific truth."

It's what one would expect from people who, on both sides, see their beliefs w/r/t climate change as a part of their identity. No need to break out what it means about the "climate consensus.'


==> If so, by what measure do you do that? Dan does it, IMO, (albeit imperfectly) by engaging in…

==> ==> "Per the post at Climate Etc recently, I was using chiefly Dan’s own data, supplemented by a few Gallup / Pew etc polls asking similar questions of the public (for wider context)."

Sorry, Andy, but I had a bit of a hard time deciphering a clear answer to my question from that post as to who is embedded in what cultures. I'm hoping you could lay it out a bit more succinctly - if only broadly as a starting point.

==> "Dan’s model regarding the climate domain is chiefly a 1-dimensional left-right (as far as I can see). My model is chiefly 2 dimensional, left, right, and climate culture, of which the latter is unsurpringly the chief mover in the climate domain. See the 2D cultural diagram in recent Climate Etc post."

Again, I'm afraid I don't understand this. Try dumbing it down a bit for me.

==> What is the "climate culture?"

==> ==> "See ‘The CAGW memeplex’ post at Climate Etc. Warning: Long post, which is just an intro, yet points the much, much longer essay for substance."

Again, unless you can break that down a bit more simply for me - so I can get a handle on it, I'm afraid I won't be able to engage with you further on this.

==> The 1/3 who *do* place cc at top priority, are the ones actually within climate culture, rather than just allied....Anyhow, the point being that if cc did not invoke cultural effects and the consensus was instead an accepted scientific truth, all those who professed belief in mmgw *must* also place it as the top or near top issue,"

Again, this strikes me as arbitrary and self-serving (in the sense of confirming a bias w/o a scientific approach to hypothesis testing). Of course CC invokes identity-related reactions. But one can think that there is a potential of risk from BAU and also feel that given the complex nature of the solutions and the long-term and effectively abstract nature of the outcomes of BAU, there's no clear road for immediate action. The ranking of CC as a priority can be influenced by myriad factors such as, the belief that a given remedy is realistic or at hand, views about how people react to the proximity of risk, etc.

The view that it a risk from CC is a "scientific truth" and culturally-related reaction don't need to be mutually exclusive.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Andy:

Paul Slovic & colleagues did study that found cutural worldivews had small but not meaningless impact in explianing variance among toxicologists on value of animal studies for assessing carcinogen risks. But not nearly as big an impact as in public.

But in general, I'm willing to wager, yes, that scientists (and other professionals) are much less sensitive as a rule to cultural cognition in making in-domain judgments than are members of the public.

I'd not find such a finding inconsistent with my previous research. I'd just find it interesting. Same if it came out the other way.

Such a study would help to fill out what relationship is between cultural cognition and professional judgment.

I just don't know why the "c'mon, really!" argument should be expected to make me adjust my priors. And, as I said, same for being furnished w/ examples of past instances of scientists getting things wrong for reasons that can be true in general without applying in any particular case.

I am very much open to the possibility that one or another influence is biasing climate scientists. But I need to see some evidence that doesn't depend on already being convinced that that's the case.

Does that seem like a fair posture for me to adopt here?

February 19, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

In many a post you seem to discount the objective strength of a scientific claim as a factor in culture predicting alliances for or against the claim. It seems totally straightforward to me that objectively weak claims will be more likely to lead to cultural conflict than objectively strong ones. The reason things like the effect of gun control, the death penalty, conceal/carry, mandatory minimums, etc. on crime are such fertile ground for cultural split is because scientific claims on those subjects are objectively weak.

I mean of course I may be misinterpreting your position. And of course my own judgement of the objective weakness of scientific claims regarding cause and effect of CO2 on the climate colors my belief that objectively weak claims are a breeding ground for cultural split.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

@Dan,

Well I don't find the Paul Slovic result a surprise. While there is clearly public and governmental interest in curing cancer by whatever means, this topic is simply not in the same league as the world-consuming narrative of Global Warming. Cultural effects, presuming some would exist in the former case, would be pro-rata, which is to say low at most.

I don't understand why you think the behaviour of science and scientists are independent of the domain they are operating in. Cultural influence is domain orientated. Or do you think, say, that a study of the cultural influences on scientists researching the strength of different ceramics in the 1930s, would be properly indicative of the cultural influence upon those researching sexual selection within the context of Eugenics in the same era? Your example above is not applicable to climate science, because scientists researching carcinogen risks are not doing climate science, and so would not be subject to the influences in that domain whether they were big or small.

The "c'mon really" is not an argument to persuade you to believe climate scientists are biased. Haven't got that far ;) As my paragraph noted, it is an argument that there is a cultural dimension to climate change. Do you specifically believe that there is NO cultural dimension, NO cultural effects at all, operating with the environmental domain with respect to Global Warming / Climate change? It would indeed be hard for me to understand if you think that this is a complete no; exceptional enough for me to ask how you think this could be so for *all* of the huge happenings on this topic out there in the big wide world.

How can things be true in general yet not have application to any specific case? There were 3 specific cases. These cases are pretty well known. As with all precedents, one looks for things in the current case that may be similar to things in the past cases. Thats a pretty straightforward method. During such a search one would not expect an exact match of course, even if it turned out that cultural influence was indeed occuring. One would expect some commonalities, for instance an unhealthy mix of science and policy, and/or science and idealism, and/or science and dictat, in some proportions, at the very least excessive peer pressure and message control. If you don't look within the current climate science domain, you sure won't find.

I would think your own evidence is the best for you. Your painstaking and excellent surverys have turned up great stuff. As the Climate Etc post you kindly retweeted explains in some detail, the greater science polarization you find is an expectation if the climate consensus is a culturally maintained one, and so not a scientific truth. The relevant effects are not only mainstream, but ubiquitous throughout the history of society.

http://judithcurry.com/2015/01/30/climate-psychologys-consensus-bias/

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

ahhh, dammit

"...the greater science polarization you find..."

should be:

"...the greater polarization of the science aware that you find..."

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Ryan -

==> " And of course my own judgement of the objective weakness of scientific claims.. "

Glad you noticed that.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua,

Well some folks often ascribe all sorts of very unwholesome behavior and characteristics to the opposite side in a debate. This does not mean any of them are true, and I don't think informs us either about the cultural influence of sides or about cultural influence in general. I think it just tells us that a lot of folks can be rude, and they are usually less accurate when they get ruder.

The rest of your answers seem to imply you are all at sea regarding any characteristic or context of 'culture' at all, and you ask for clarification. That's most peculiar; I'd formed the opinion from previous exchanges at Climate Etc that this was not the case at all. Okay.

The word is used to mean many different things of course, even within the academic domain depending on subject discipline. Starting with the basics, such as learned and integrated behaviors that are not (primarily - there are gene-culture interactions) the result of genetic inheritance, then anthropologists would further add the detailed behaviours meaning language and symbols and customs and such. Cultures have developmental trajectories, studied by cultural evolution (weak Darwinian to strong Darwinian depending on your taste and the particular context). So, more complex societies have multiple cultural strains that can co-exist or compete. Can be called cultures in their own right :) Similar models to species and populations in biology, for the reasons of common Darwinian mechanisms. Hopping to the stronger Darwinian end, the cultural information content equivalent to a gene pool is the group of co-developing narratives, which spread via emotive / other effects and will drive adherents of strong cultures to maintain orthodoxy (cognitive psychology sheds light on this area). Religions are examples of a particular subset of cultures that are founded on creation myths and deities and often after-life perceptions. Each religion is a separate example, but they have similar features. Communism in China, say, is an example of a secular culture. Cultures are fuzzy boundaried. Cultures evolve. Cultures can disintegrate and merge into others. Cultures typically take part in cross-coalitions (e.g. with particular politics). New cultures are often have a strong personality cult component. There can be many cultural elements to a society that nevertheless are not a separately evolving cuture in their own right (the weak to zero darwinian end). The intersect between culture and individual is a key area of interest and research, neuroscience is in on the game now. Doubt this will help you but I don't know what will; probably google will be better :)

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Andy -

==> "The rest of your answers seem to imply you are all at sea regarding any characteristic or context of 'culture' at all,..."

Perhaps that is so, but.

==> ", and you ask for clarification."

I am asking for your explanation, in clear terms, of what you mean by a "climate culture," and how you apply that term to a particular group of some people in contrast to others. My impression is that your definition is based on arbitrary (and perhaps just self-affirming) application of criteria. But perhaps not. In which case, could you explain what are your inclusion/exclusion criteria?

I am also saying that I don't understand your* definition and application of the term "culture." To help clarify why I don't see a coherency in your definition and application of the term, I note that as an example, you seem to refer to a "secular culture." What does that mean? Again, is it a culture that puts me together with a secular Japanese Buddhist? What are your inclusion/exclusion criteria more generally for what comprises a "culture," and specifically w/r/t a climate change "culture."

==. "Each religion is a separate example, but they have similar features. "

So again, you're saying that it seems that Jim Wallis, Pat Robertson, and Fred Phelps, all who would fall under the same religion, according to your construct, are members of the same "culture?" That seems quite strained, IMO, as I think you would be hard-pressed to find many meaningful similarities between those three individuals in their religious views, and even less likely to find similarities in how they apply their religious views the world around them. Again, I am not clear on how you are defining and applying the term.

==> "Doubt this will help you but I don't know what will; probably google will be better :)"

No, Googling won't help - because like the definition you provided, it would only give me a generic explanation. I am not asking for a generic explanation. I am asking about how <Strong>you are defining the term and then on what basis you apply your definition to (1) construct a concept of a "climate" culture and, (2) determine who is or isn't a part of that culture.

Further, it would be nice to see some explanation of how you have tested your hypothesis of what a "climate culture" is and how your inclusion/exclusion criteria play out in the real world with real people.

February 19, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

So this is an interesting situation. Because well know correlation DOES NOT imply causation.

And it doesn't.

I observe a correlation between subjects with objectively weak scientific claims and cultural split of opinion.

I know correlation doesn't imply causation, but I also know that cultural split of opinion can't rationally cause objectively weak scientific claims.

So I'm stuck with this very strong suspicion that causation works in the direction I stated earlier.

I admit this isn't completely solid reasoning. But I still have my suspicions.

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Ryan -

I agree with you about the correlation and likely causation part...but I'm pointing out that your determination of what are "objectively weak scientific claims" is, well, subjective. many engaged in the discussion on both sides say that their scientific claims are entirely objective. Look at Andy's identification of "culture." he claims it is an objective observation of fact, and i say it looks subjective to me, and that he hasn't provided scientific evidence.

Do you think that there is scientifically objective evidence regarding the safety of GMOs or the link between autism and vaccinations?

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

I'm afraid I'm even worse than you on the question of culture. I am happy to describe a person as "cultured" in the sense that they have knowledge of and appreciation for art, music, history, literature and so on. But I cringe when the word is used as if it described a real world object which causes effects. "Islamic culture causes men to beat women" makes no sense. If we observe that domestic violence is common in Islamic families, and use the word to mean the sum total of observable behavioral tendencies of Islamic folks, "domestic violence is part of Islamic culture" then I'm happier. That avoids the mistake of saying the broad description of observation of behaviors are causing the behaviors.

So I think environmentalism and environmentalists are cognizable objects in the real world. Saying "a typical environmentalist will express concern about climate change" makes sense. Saying "that person's environmentalism caused them to express concern about climate change" is irrational. Words like culture and environmentalism are merely maps we put on the battlefield to make sense of it.

I have what is probably an annoying take on autism/vaccines and GMO's. The problem is autism and GMO's are nonsensical concepts.

Autism Spectrum Disorder is so broad and poorly defined that I wish people would just stop using the word and come up with 15 specific words for whatever specific set of observations they want to talk about. That said, I think it's entirely possible that a person could have an autoimmune reaction to a vaccine that causes significant harm. But I know of no scientific evidence to indicate that happens at all, much less that it's some kind of significant problem. If that ass hole Brit hadn't faked all that research and got his paper published I don't think people would have a problem assuming vaccines aren't causing autoimmune disorders when there isn't any evidence that it's happening.

What in the heck is a genetically modified organism? An ear of corn started out the size of a crayon but the NA's selected for larger and larger varieties for thousands of years and now they're huge. That is 100% genetic modification if we're to take it literally. So maybe GMO's are seeds with modifications specific for industrial agriculture. They have a high response in growth rate to Nitrogen fertilizers and mass irrigation. The result is that "farmland" is basically sand where a controlled chemical reaction occurs. And the food which grows has an extremely low concentration of vitamins/nutrients per calorie. And the scientific case that it is therefore less healthy for a person to eat compared to food grown in real soil is indisputable.

But that's not what anyone is talking about when they think GMO's are unsafe. So I'm forced to conclude the "debate" consists of a bunch of idiots spouting nonsense. And I'll admit it sort of contradicts my statement that situations of weak evidence are ripe for observing cultural split. So I should at least say that the rule I proposed is only going to work in situations where it's possible for strong scientific evidence to exist. When no one knows what the hell a GMO or Autism is to begin with, evidence for or against some claim regarding them is a nonsensical concept.

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

@Joshua:

Well these are much more coherent questions than above, and despite I have no idea who your 3 named guys are (presumably per your follow-on text representing examples of different subdivisions or viewpoints of Christianity?), then I can grasp what you’re asking and answer, albeit it seems mostly like ground already covered.

As you can probably tell even from my tiny weeny brief overview above, cultural evolution and related disciplines have various ways of defining a culture. Given that a core feature they have is always an integrated, coherent set of co-developing narratives, an orthodox canon if you will, then a way I personally like regarding the definition of who is in and who is out, is, ‘who *truly* believes the narrative set?’. These folks are ‘in’. The other folks are ‘out’. (In practice, it’s always more fuzzy because the narratives themselves are a moving target and are never wholly coherent). It is part of the ‘job’ of cultures to create consensus (super social cohesion is an advantage), and the canon represents an (evolving) consensus. The canon consists strong guidelines about a way of living and/or behaving, typically legitimised in some way (e.g. for religions, a creation myth & deity). Again for religions, or the big ones anyhow, they have been around so long and have so many adherents, that some of the coherency problems grow into schisms, hence spawing subset canons / consensus about living, which are only loosely still in line at top level, but have a renewed tighter consensus further down (e.g. catholics and protestants). So your three guys presumably come from three of these subsets. Competition between subsets (especially new ones) for adherents can be fierce, creating the impression of difference. The way to reassert one’s sense of cultural commonality, is to think how much of the top level consensus these guys still share compared to say, Hindus. In short, cultures can be heirachical. Top end of canon (form of deity, form of after-life, details of creation myth etc, devolve down to the business of life at the bottom; how to get married and to how many other people, how many kids to have or how to interact with other cultures, etc). By secular I mean ‘not religious’. I.e. there are social entities that have the above characteristics, but whose narratives are not based on creation myths or deities. I think I mentioned chinese communism as a secular culture, it was very cultish as the beginning, there was a form of ‘Mao worship’ idolization, etc. Has a canon. Pushes the hot buttons… Because we’ve co-evolved with these cultures through homo-sapiens-sapiens and before (neanderthals had religion for instance), our emotive and other psychological hot-buttons they push are sensitized to narratives with the right forms (but which however do not have to be about deities, can just push similar buttons about anxiety or fear or hope, and many others both positive and negative). There can also be social movements with strong cultural features, that however do not launch into a full cultural trajectory.

So who is ‘in and out’ for the culture of climate. And what are the tests? Well the kind of proof you get in physics for instance, is never forthcoming in social studies of cultures or cognitive effects or such; there is interpretation, as indeed happens here at cultural cognition. But tools and tests there are. In common with Dan’s work here, surveys are a major tool. Yet turns out, as Dan has put a lot of effort into making clear, that you need to ask in various ways to find out what folks really think, as their answers will be skewed by (potentially various) identity / loyalty issues. Per my post at Climate Etc, I use Dan’s results and those of a few other surveys to look at the simple test I mentioned at the start: ‘who *truly* believes the narrative set?’ I’m not going to explain it all here and if you say again it’s too hard you’ll just have to pass through slower and make criticisms there for anything you don’t like. However, very briefly, one can’t realistically test for the whole set, but the principal narrative is ‘there is global warming and it is human caused’. As Dan finds, just asking whether folks believe that narrative or not, invokes identity issues. Don’t get the real result. My means of separating out from those who say they believe, the subset who *actually do* believe, is to use the figure for those who place it top priority against a list of US issues (I’m only considering US here). After all, another core part of the climate narrative set is that this is dangerous global problem requiring immediate action, anyone who truly believes is going to place it top or at least v near top. Per results already noted above, including the Gallup pole where the big majority of Dem/Libs place climate 11th on list, there is only a minority of Dem / Libs who are truly a part of climate culture. The others are only in allegiance for political purposes. Cross coalitions of cultures are endemic. All resat of details and results in the post – not explaining further here – go there. The post also calls up a series of others, labelled AW1 to AW3, which are up at WUWT. These looked at another angle, a subset of the hot buttons. Many of these are quite well known and framed as cognitive biases. Lewandowksy and some collegues have a good series of papers, with some survey results and actual experiments on people, examining cognitive / emotive biases (some people class emotive separately), some in respect of misinformation (cultures can thrive on misinformation, especially emotive misinformation). They use insight of experimental result on real-world situations like WMD and show explanatory power. Here I come in and methodically go through each of the biases, mapping to the climate domain, and showing complete applicability to the climate consensus. The handy thing about using the Lew and crew papers (there are others in a similar vein) is that all the authors are avid supporters of climate orthodoxy, hence cannot be any skeptic bias in the papers. Enough typing enough! Am not answering anything more on the Climate Etc post or AW1 to AW3 here on Dan’s thread, go to original posts and open up there if you wish, happy to engage there :).

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Dan,

"The particular case we are now discussing is the judgment of climate scientists. I don't know whether their judgment is being affected by these dynamics; so necessarily I don't know whether I should discount scientific consensus on AGW."

Don't you? Why not? We've discussed the evidence for it often enough...

And isn't not knowing sufficient reason in itself to discount the conclusion? Shouldn't scientific judgements require that we *know* the supporting arguments are solid, not merely that we're unaware (because we haven't looked) of any reason to think they're not?

"One can't reliably draw any inferences from studies of how dynamics like identity-protective cognition affect public opinion, on the one hand, to how the same dynamics affect the expert judgments of scientists or any other group of professionals (like judges, say!), on the other."

Why not?

You have already explored what happens as scientific literacy increases - it's not a difficult extrapolation to make.

"If one wants to figure out if the conclusions of expert decisionmakers are being biased by identity-protective cogntion or comparable dynamics, then one has to perform valid studies on samples of the experts in question as they apply their professional judgment to the types of problems for which it is suited."

And you have no interest yourself in the question? You don't think it's important?

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV

I am intersted, yes.

I'm pretty sure I've indicated that I'm doing studies of professional judgment and motivated reasoning before.

Anyone else who is interested in this question should also be studying these issues & not repeating same arguments over & over & over on what they think existing evidence signifies to people who've explained why they think it doesn't bear that interpretation.

February 20, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

==> " it's not a difficult extrapolation to make."

Well, you can't argue with that, Dan. The fact that we see the extrapolation made so easily is clear evidence that it isn't a difficult one to make. :-)

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"I'm pretty sure I've indicated that I'm doing studies of professional judgment and motivated reasoning before."

Good! I'll look forward to that!

My apologies - I don't remember seeing your prior indications. My recollection was that you had said you was only interested in studying the general public in bulk.

"Anyone else who is interested in this question should also be studying these issues & not repeating same arguments over & over & over on what they think existing evidence signifies to people who've explained why they think it doesn't bear that interpretation."

Which of us is doing that?

You have argued over and over (this post being another example) that the result on increasing polarization with increasing scientific literacy doesn't apply to the subset of the population with the greatest climate science literacy (i.e. climate scientists) to people like me who don't think the evidence bears that interpretation.

That Koehler paper you linked to says scientists do. The history of 'scientific revolutions' says they do. Your own results on scientific literacy show that scientific knowledge/training gives no general immunity. And there are plenty of specific examples of climate scientists doing things that strongly indicate 'us-and-them' consensus-protective thinking. (Whether you want to talk about them or not, you surely know about them.) The very choice of the word 'consensus' to describe their position tells us clearly that this is all about conformity to a group opinion!

So why do you think otherwise? You've said previously that you're confident there must be other factors intruding to somehow cancel these effects in professional scientists, but you haven't (that I recall) said on the basis of what evidence/argument you think so. Is there any positive reason to believe they exist?

I wasn't trying to repeat my previous arguments on the topic in this comment; I was trying to understand why they had failed. I tried hard not to make any specific argument, but instead to ask you for your argument. I'm still interested.

Joshua,

I'm so glad we agree!

February 20, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Andy -

==> " Enough typing enough! Am not answering anything more on the Climate Etc post or AW1 to AW3 here on Dan’s thread, go to original posts and open up there if you wish, happy to engage there :)."

Actually, I'm not interested in that. Obviously, feel free to read or not read/respond or not respond exactly as you wish:

==> "Well these are much more coherent questions than above,"

Seems to me that I've been repeating my questions (and unfortunately, that they still remain unanswered).

==> "despite I have no idea who your 3 named guys are (presumably per your follow-on text representing examples of different subdivisions or viewpoints of Christianity?),"

A quick Google would suffice. Anyway, no - my point was pretty much the opposite of what you've presuming. My point was that it would not be meaningful to categorize them as belonging to three different subdivisions of Christianity - because the characteristic of being Christian is not a meaningful point of overlap among them. Their views on Christianity are that different.

==> "albeit it seems mostly like ground already covered."

No, actually, it's ground that we have not covered, even though I have tried to focus on that ground.


==> " Given that a core feature they have is always an integrated, coherent set of co-developing narratives, an orthodox canon if you will, " "

That is my point of contention.

==> "then a way I personally like regarding the definition of who is in and who is out, is, ‘who *truly* believes the narrative set?’."

Again, that is why I have asked you for some preciseness in your definitions and your inclusion/exclusion criteria - as well as some explication of how you applied your definitions and criteria as a way to explore your related hypotheses. I note that you still have not given me any explanation in line with what I've requested.

==> "In practice, it’s always more fuzzy because the narratives themselves are a moving target and are never wholly coherent)."

That, actually, is closely related to my point. Yes, they are never "wholly coherent." But the question is how do you approach determining what is a sufficiency of coherency to be deemed a "culture." IMO, you have most fundamentally failed to make such a clarification - and as a result, you are free to assert a sufficiently coherent culture wherever you please, and to exclude whomever you please from that culture. It seems to me more or less like an exercise in confirmation bias. In contrast, IMO, Dan take an empirical approach to related questions. He scientifically formulates a theory and then tests it. He makes predictions about what he should or shouldn't see if his hypotheses are (or aren't) verified. I have no reason to assume that Dan, as an individual, is any more or less to be influenced by confirmation bias than you - but I do see reason to believe that his output is less biased because he subjects it to methodological testing. Of course, my own perception in that regard is likely to be biased. But assuming that there's any good faith in my efforts to test for my own biases, your failure to provide the kind of empirical evidence that Dan does provide, would necessarily put me at a disadvantage in evaluating your ideas.

==> "Again for religions, or the big ones anyhow, they have been around so long and have so many adherents, that some of the coherency problems grow into schisms, hence spawing subset canons / consensus about living, which are only loosely still in line at top level, but have a renewed tighter consensus further down (e.g. catholics and protestants)."

Again, I think that it is largely meaningless to view JIm Wallis and Fred Phelps as being "loosely in line" at the top level of some hierarchy and being consensual "further down."

==> "So your three guys presumably come from three of these subsets. "

My argument is precisely the opposite.

==> "Competition between subsets (especially new ones) for adherents can be fierce, creating the impression of difference."

I don't think that the differences are only a matter of "appearance."

==> " The way to reassert one’s sense of cultural commonality, is to think how much of the top level consensus these guys still share compared to say, Hindus. "

Little, if any. I would think that there are many Hindus who have much more in common, spiritually and otherwise, with Jim Wallis than with Fred Phelps - although many may also share some attributes with Phelps that they don't share with Wallis.

Anyway, I'll leave behind the rest of your theoretical lesson about culture because I think that it similarly is pretty much a non-sequitur w/r/t the questions I'm asking you; the questions I'm asking you are related to specific context.


==> "So who is ‘in and out’ for the culture of climate. And what are the tests?"

This seemed promising, at first.

==> " Well the kind of proof you get in physics for instance, is never forthcoming in social studies of cultures or cognitive effects or such; there is interpretation, as indeed happens here at cultural cognition. "

I'm not sure why you think you need to explain that. I'm not asking for that kind of "proof."

==> "However, very briefly, one can’t realistically test for the whole set, but the principal narrative is ‘there is global warming and it is human caused’. As Dan finds, just asking whether folks believe that narrative or not, invokes identity issues."

OK.

==> " My means of separating out from those who say they believe, the subset who *actually do* believe, is to use the figure for those who place it top priority against a list of US issues (I’m only considering US here)"

And here, your test is not really a test. It is merely an assumption that you apply to this context. There's nothing scientific or empirical about your assessment. You have not evaluated the validity of your measure (how well it measures what you're intending it to measure). You fail to account or obvious alternative explanations and obvious counterarguments. You don't make any predictions of what you'd expect see if your test is or isn't valid, respectively.


==> "After all, another core part of the climate narrative set is that this is dangerous global problem requiring immediate action, anyone who truly believes is going to place it top or at least v near top."

How do you know this? First, you aren't even establishing a distinction between those who are certain that climate change requires immediate action and those who have confidence in the "consensus" that says that there is a meaningful risk, and increased risk from delaying action. You don't account for how people manage risks that play out over long term time-horizons. You aren't accounting for how the difficulty of finding effective action plays into the link people make between perception of risk and priority of immediate action.

==> "Per results already noted above, including the Gallup pole where the big majority of Dem/Libs place climate 11th on list, there is only a minority of Dem / Libs who are truly a part of climate culture."

This is tautological. You don't define the "climate culture" in any way other than by arbitrarily assigning to a particular group of people - a group that isn't even well defined - without testing anything about the process.

==> " The others are only in allegiance for political purposes."

You haven't meaningfully differentiated these different people.

==> " All resat of details and results in the post – not explaining further here – go there"

Since I couldn't find what I was looking for in your posts, I was hoping for a more succinct explanation here.

Oh well.

February 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Johsua

==>Actually, I'm not interested in that.

Indeed not; this is very obvious.

I provided what you asked for. And indeed I'd be the first to say this is nowhere near the standard for a paper (would need to be a sequence of them too). You clearly don't like the direction taken, but as professional critics know, merely criticizing everything therein reveals a lack of insight. Why not be braver? Where are your own ideas and theories and own workings from which to launch a much more substantive critique, based far more upon principles and far less upon picking?

==>It is merely an assumption that you apply.

Of course it's an assumption I apply. And I explained why it should be close to what I'm looking for. Clearly not perfectly, nor did I explain the imperfections in the compressed post above. Yet such assumptions are what you have to start with when you form theories. Or did you never form any? If the outcome fits the data better, e.g. the more polarization of the more science aware, then the assumption is at least along the right lines and one can proceed.

==>Since I couldn't find what I was looking for in your posts

If you are looking for a magical explanation without ambiguity, you are on the wrong sites and the wrong topic. From all your thousands of comments within the climate domain, many of which I read before ever we engaged, I think you know very well that we are all exploring. Dan makes his direction and workings known. I do. Do you?

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Andy -

==> "Indeed not; this is very obvious."


I've read your posts. They are very complex - and my ability to interpret them has been limited. But from my reading, I have not seen how you justify separating out climate change from among the many other polarized issues that reflect the same patterns of cultural cognition - to identity a "climate culture."

Overlaid on to that, I observe that you are a heavily identified climate "skeptic" who is arguing for a taxonomy that systematically demeans "realists" and elevates "skeptics." In contrast, when I see Dan looking the social manifestations of polarization about climate change, I see someone engaging empirically and employing the scientific method. If I were looking for the effects of cultural cognition in the output of an analyst, I would expect to see a self-serving conclusion as I do with you - but that I don't see with Dan's output in that his work shows the exact same biases at play in the group that he identifies with ideologically as exists in other ideological groupings

Now of course, none of that means that you aren't right and that he's wrong. And it could be that your analysis shows some objective truth that "skeptics" are less prone, as a group, to cultural cognition and as a result gaining a pure insight into the science of climate change. It could be that Dan's biases are reflected in his work in that he shows a similar biasing process affecting "realists" and "skeptics" alike, when in fact "realists" are the ones who are biased disproportionately.

So from the bird's eye view, I see reason to think that there is a greater probability of bias in your work than his (as yours conforms more obviously to the pattern I'd expect from the influence of cultural cognition) - but obviously, my bird's eye view is prone to bias.

So when I try to dig in to the matter, I see him formulating hypotheses and going about testing them systematically, whereas I can not discern any such scientific method in your work.You seem to me to have started with a conclusion and then gone about using evidence to support that conclusion. You might recall my comment from Judith's where I spoke to that specifically in how you used that Rassmussen poll.


==> "I provided what you asked for."


Not that I could see.

==> "And indeed I'd be the first to say this is nowhere near the standard for a paper (would need to be a sequence of them too)."

Speculation is fine. I do it all the time in these threads (and Dan often says to me that speculation is inferior to hypothesis testing, and he's right).


==> "You clearly don't like the direction taken, but as professional critics know, merely criticizing everything therein reveals a lack of insight."


I am critical of some of Dan's work also. People post stuff on the web, I offer criticism as a way of working it out. Take it for what it's worth.


==> " Why not be braver?"


Braver? What does "bravery" have to do with it? Unfortunate to see you stoop to run-of-the-mill personalization that we see so often here in the blogosphere.


==> "Where are your own ideas and theories and own workings from which to launch a much more substantive critique, based far more upon principles and far less upon picking?"


I'm developing my ideas by critiquing yours, just as I do with Dan's. The merits of your analysis stands apart from my critiques, and my process of investigating them.


==> "Of course it's an assumption I apply. And I explained why it should be close to what I'm looking for."


I don't see how your explanation stands up to scrutiny.


==> "Clearly not perfectly,"


I wouldn't expect perfection. You seem to think that I am. I am pointing to what I think are flawed components of your analysis.


==> "Yet such assumptions are what you have to start with when you form theories."


And then you go about testing them, systematically.

==> "Or did you never form any?"


Of course I do.


==> "If the outcome fits the data better, e.g. the more polarization of the more science aware, then the assumption is at least along the right lines and one can proceed."


I don't see how you've tested your theories - for example, that there is distinction between "realists" and "skeptics" on climate change that separates them from the ideological patterns that similarly play out with many other polarized topics. There is overwhelming polarization that is associated with ideological identification. I see, all the time, "realists" and "skeptics" alike displaying the identity-aggressive and identity-defensive behaviors that are associated with cultural cognition. We see much evidence in the literature related to the manifestations of motivated reasoning. I see fallacious reasoning related to climate change all the time. I see strong evidence that most people, on both sides of the issue, are identified with a particular belief even though they don't have the background or the skills to evaluate the scientific evidence. In order for you to make a compelling argument, IMO, that stronger than the one that climate change is not distinguishable from the larger patterns, you'd need to formulate a list of supporting aims and test your results.


==> "If you are looking for a magical explanation without ambiguity,"


Nope. Not what I'm looking for.


==> "From all your thousands of comments within the climate domain, many of which I read before ever we engaged, I think you know very well that we are all exploring."


Yes, I'm exploring also.

==> "Dan makes his direction and workings known. I do. Do you?"


I think so. If you have some questions, feel free to ask. Dealing with questions is a great way for me to explore the weaknesses in my thinking.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

And Andy --

Just to be clear, the following comment of yours is part of the context....

"As a believer in climate orthodoxy himself, Kahan is unfortunately blinded to the explanation for this phenomenon and draws a completely wrong conclusion.

Feb 12, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Yes, per your final comment, this is part of the context. But regarding this:

===>'...arguing for a taxonomy that systematically demeans "realists" and elevates "skeptics." '

Where? We are all subject to cultural influence, and no-one is demeaned by virtue of influence, or elevated either for that matter. It's part of the normal human condition. I have consistently made that clear. For instance in the Climate Etc post:

It’s worth noting that there isn’t abnormal behavior within the Consensus either; cultural hi-jacking and the enforcement of consensuses is practically as common in humans societies as sleeping and eating, and certainly more common than the common cold.

==>"...when I see Dan looking the social manifestations of polarization about climate change, I see someone engaging empirically and employing the scientific method..."

Indeed he does good work. That's why I incorporate his findings regarding identity defensive assertions about belief in climate change (per direct questioning on such). Of course he's thinking mainly of identity defense from Rep / Cons and I am thinking mainly from Dem / Libs, but the effect is not dependent upon *which* identity.

==>"...I offer criticism as a way of working it out. Take it for what it's worth..."

Sometimes it's worth a great deal. But not to the exclusion of all else.

==>'...We see much evidence in the literature related to the manifestations of motivated reasoning..."

Yes, which is a symmetrical effect when a culture is not in play. But may be very asymmetrical when one is.

==>I don't see how you've tested your theories.

Not fully, but the Climate Etc post and AW1 to AW3 make a good start, imho. They make use of Dan's work and the work of Lewandowsky + associates (plus some others) for much of their findings. Building on the work of others is a good way to push forward in a complex domain, don't you think? What separates skeptics and realists *is* the same as some other ideological domains, i.e. those dominated by a culture, e.g. religion. That's partly the point that allows a (not just left-right) major cultural influence to be discerned.

I may indeed ask some questions :) Right now I am off for 3 days travel.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Andy -

I will add one point that I think relates to, IMO, a weakness in the criticisms I've seen among "skeptics" of Dan's work: from my perspective, his work does not set up a causality where political ideology is what causes views on climate change, but that both ideological views and views on climate change are similarly driven by identity-related mechanisms. In other words, while ideology might be a moderator/mediator in the relationship between identify-related biases and views on climate change, it isn't the causal factor.That seems to me to be a common misunderstanding among "skeptics" - which then morphs into "skeptics" thinking that Dan's work amounts to judging their "motivations" or attributing their beliefs to irrationality or psychological pathology. Not to say that they wouldn't rightly think that "realists" often make such judgments about "skeptics" motives; no doubt, "realists" often do make such judgments (as do "skeptics" of the motives of "realists"), but it would be a mistake to react to Dan's work as if it fits that fairly typical pattern that plays out in the climate wars.

Also, as an FYI, I am, I think, more dubious than Dan about scientists controlling for their ideological biases in their field of expertise - although I do think that by virtue of the scientific method, the outcomes of scientists' work is, as a matter of probabilities, likely to be less influenced by cultural cognition/motivated reasoning than people who don't directly employ the scientific method in their analyses (e.g., the vast majority of blogospheric analyses - on both sides of the great climate divide).


I welcome the questions. Enjoy your travel.

February 22, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

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