Weekend update: OMG-- we are now as politically polarized over cell phone radiation as over GM food risks!!!
Some "Industrial Strength Risk Perception Measure" readings from CCP/Annenberg Public Policy Center study administered this month:
Interesting but not particularly surprising that polarization over the risk associated with unlawful entry of immigrants rivals that on global warming, which has abated recedntly about as much as the pumping of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Interesting but not surprising to learn (re-learn, actually) that it's nonsense to say Americans are "more afraid of terrorism than climate change b/c the former is more dramatic, emotionally charged" etc. That trope, associated with the "take-heuristics-and-biases-add-water-and-stir" formula of "instant decision science," reflects a false premise: those predisposed to worry about climate change do in fct see the risk it poses as bigger than that posed by domestic terrorism.
And completely boring at this point to learn form the 10^7 time that there is no political division over GM food risk in the general public, despite the constant din in the media and even some academic commentary to this effect.
Consider this histogram:
The flatness of the distribution is the signature of the sheer noise associated with responses to GM food survey questions, the administration of which, as discussed seven billion times in this blog (once for every two regular blog subscribers!) is an instance of classic "non-opinion" polling.
Ordinary Americans--the ones who don't spend all day reading and debating politics (99% of them)-- just don't give GM food any thought. They don't know what GM technology is, that it has been a staple of US agricultural production for decades, and that it is in 80% of the foodstuffs they buy at the market.
They don't know that the House of Reps passed a bipartisan bill to preempt state-labelling laws, which special-interest groups keep unsucessfully sponsoring in costly state referenda campaigns, and that the Senate will almost surely follow suit, presenting a bill that University of Chicago Democrat Barrack Obama will happily sign w/o more than 1% of the U.S. population noticing (a lot of commentators don't even seem to realize how close this non-issue is to completely disappearing).
Why the professional conflict entrepreneurs have failed in their effort to generate in the U.S. the sort of public division over GM foods that has existed for a long time in Europe is really an interesting puzzle. It's much more interesting to try to figure out hypotheses for that & test them than to engage in a make-believe debate about why the public is "so worried" about them!
But neither that interesting question nor the boring, faux "public fear of GM foods" question was the focus of the CCP/APPC study.
Some other really cool things were.