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"They saw an election"-- my 2 cents on election result

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Reader Comments (10)

Good to see you back.

In the days before the election I expected to see an article such as this. It would have made the long political season shorter, and more tolerable. But with all the Trump railing and boasting going on, it is good to read such now.

I hope you have been well and busy, and not unwell and bored.

November 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F Pittman

Dan -

For your reading pleasure:

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@John -- thanks for the kind words, including those about my health! I've been distrcted w/ about a billion things & sadly did have to spend some time away fro blogging

On my Scientific American post, it's pretty much of a piece with one I did before the election, where I offered my interpretation of why the video of Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women was not hurting him in the polls. Of course we now know that the major polls all rested on poor likely-voter models...

I suppose I could have done many more posts on the election but I'm reluctant to hold forth w/o data; even here I think I likely did too much & should have made it even clearer that I was conjecturing.

December 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Joshua-- thanks.

Awful that they had to distort the shape of the figures to make them fit.

December 2, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Your paper seems to have them somewhat "skeptical," Dan. Just a tad.

It's rather funny that as convinced as they are about how your own biases are reflected in the results of your research and the conclusions you draw from that work, it doesn't seem to occur to them that perhaps their own biases are in play as they congratulate each other on how clearly, because they're all so open-minded, it couldn't be that they're "motivated" when they assess the evidence related to climate science, or the evidence that you present.

December 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Hi Dan, I'd like to say 'welcome back' as well. I guessed it was probably work, but I'm still relieved to hear it wasn't anything worse.

" why the video of Trump boasting of sexually assaulting women was not hurting him in the polls"

This one seemed to me to be one of those "They saw a Protest" situations. Where how you interpret what was said (whether as "assaulting" women, or as a particular sub-cultural form of consensual sexual behaviour) depends on your allegiances. The most interesting bit was how those who "saw an assault" were so unable to comprehend that other cultures could see things differently. Possibly unexpected behaviour for such vocal champions of multiculturalism and alternative sexual subcultures, but I guess it just goes to show how the more society seem to change, the more people stay the same.

"It's rather funny that as convinced as they are about how your own biases are reflected in the results of your research and the conclusions you draw from that work, it doesn't seem to occur to them that perhaps their own biases are in play"

Yes, everyone behaves that way - on both sides. Isn't that exactly what Dan's results and science show/predict?

Dan does exactly the same thing in the paper. Figure 2 shows his prediction of the effect of AOT on belief under the bounded rationality hypothesis, where Conservative/Republicans are predicted to believe more in anthropogenic global warming as they grow more open minded. But you could equally easily predict that the Liberals/Democrats would decrease belief as their open-mindedness increased, given that the empirical evidence is a lot weaker than the Liberal/Democrat political/cultural consensus apparently believes. They would be more open-minded to sceptical alternative views.

Dan speaks of how "a deficit in this disposition associated with ideological conservatism [...] might be the source of political polarization over facts that admit of empirical proof—for example, that human activity is causing the temperature of the earth to increase", but I don't think that either he or most other Liberals/Democrats would be able to present (or even point to) such an empirical proof. (Nor would most non professional statisticians be able to understand/check it, even if they could.) They've been told there is one, and they happily take it on faith that they're being told the truth because it conforms to their cultural preferences, but the proof itself clearly can't be the reason they believe if they've never seen it.

Kip Hansen points out Dan's blindness to his own cultural assumptions, and you of course point out Kip's blindness to his in pointing it out. Now I'm pointing out yours, and so it goes, round and round. We all see the motes in everybody else's eyes.

The general public don't believe things because they're "facts that admit of empirical proof". They believe because sources they trust tell them so. Liberals do. Conservatives do. Even many scientists do.

December 3, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

I am not sure how you measure it, but NiV's comment of trust reminds me of something I wanted to be considered. In a situation similar to the Florida case of Dan's:

As a professional I met with a council of governments about why a permit was being denied. It was a scheduled meeting so we could explain why our firm needed to talk to them. The purpose from our part was to educate them on how engineers design systems, and why the permit process worked as or not as it did. The root problem was that they did not determine numbers as the criteria for the permit, but by what they thought by feeling was sufficient to protect. We explained how that was beyond what engineers do in one sense. What we do is design systems to meet the numbers; that the project could not be completed until design constraints had been agreed to.

I think one of the reasons the Florida case works and a carbon tax does not is that a physical move that is normal in many respects is easy for most members to understand, even support. It is easy to gain trust of something well known. that I think this trust is a needed agreement. Just as once we explained what we were doing and why, the arguments centered on getting the numbers needed.

That is decidedly different from the proposals by IPCC and especially the NGO's who attack democracy and capitalism. I personally would not trust our government with the proposals to date much less the UN which I have even less trust. It also goes to one of the constraints on approach that the IPCC insists on, and that is the conservation of a supposed temperature rather than a conservation of potential, usually expressed as conservation of capital.

December 4, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn f pittman

"I think one of the reasons the Florida case works and a carbon tax does not is that a physical move that is normal in many respects is easy for most members to understand, even support."

One of the major reasons sceptics have for their scepticism is that, even if you accepted the climate science as correct (for the sake of argument, say), a lot of the measures proposed in the public debate to deal with it make no sense on either an engineering or economic sense. Actually, a carbon tax is one of the few that *does* make some economic sense, although there are still big problems with it (and far better alternatives). Neither side likes it because they can't agree on the correct price for it - if you charge the correct price (or even the one the IPCC calculated) you get a slight reduction in fossil fuel use, since the projected costs of climate change are small compared to the benefits fossil fuels provide, which is of course not enough for the fanatics who insist fossil fuel use has to stop entirely.

But if we really *did* need to stop using fossil fuels that quickly, the current approach isn't the one we would take, on engineering grounds. The only known scalable energy technology we could use instead is nuclear power. France demonstrated it was possible back in the 1980s. We would just need to start building hundreds/thousands of nuclear power plants. It would take about 5-10 years. That's what we'd do if there really was a real planetary emergency.

We don't, because there isn't and they know it. It's all politics.

I think the Florida case works because they basically relabeled routine coastal flood defences under a 'climate change' banner, and thereby got a lot of extra funding for it. It's the usual America 'Pork Barrel' politics. The deal is that if you don't argue and sing along to the common 'message', you get access to more money. It's a bit corrupt, but it makes financial sense.

Sea level rise is about 2 mm/yr. Over the 40-year lifetime of typical coastal flood defences, the seas would rise about three and a half inches, which is insignificant compared to the tolerances engineers routinely build in. And sediment dropped by rivers or coastal currents can raise the land level far faster - between three and ten times more quickly. The normal processes of erosion and deposition - which coastal engineering already deals with - are an order of magnitude larger. From an engineering point of view, it's not an issue.

But 'factual beliefs' about coastal engineering and coastal geology have become contested symbols in the political debate. Do you think that as the seas rise, the land stays exactly where it is? It depends on which tribe you belong to.

December 4, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

This is interesting. Weren't both candidates highly disfavored by their own political parties in the 2016 election?

I think the 2016 is better viewed in terms of who voters were voting against and not who they were voting for. Therefore, for the majority of voters it represents their cultural identity in terms of what they do not support.

June 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda G. Sullivan

@Amanda-- agree: often "who you are" is defined most sharply by "who one is not"

July 1, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan
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