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Me & my shadow(s)

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Reader Comments (10)


In case you are wondering why there is so much silence here, it is perhaps because all 3 articles are paywalled.

July 4, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@jonathan-- trust me: you aren't missing much

July 5, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan


van der Linden and Cook are apparently not content to limit the fight to behind a paywall:

July 5, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan-- of course I disagree w/ their points, but it is perfectly legitimate for them to make such arguments, which are more coherent than than the ones they made in their strange letter to the editor in NCC. I'll respond "tomorrow."™ Feel free to share your own thoughts in the meantime

July 6, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan


I'm confused about what is being fought over. The CC thesis doesn't claim that consensus messaging alone never works. And van der Linden et al. don't claim that consensus messaging alone always works.

You say in

I don't know if 83% is a "consensus," but I do know that the weight of the evidence is growing stronger in favor of rejection of the proposition that all you have to do to change their minds is tell skeptics that the vast majority of scientists disagree with them.
(emphasis mine) But, van der Linden et. al. don't appear to claim that. As the inoculation studies they cite indicate. And as Joshua and others pointed out in that blog page.

Similarly, in "Facts versus feelings":

Effective science communication requires an inclusive, holistic approach that integrates different social science perspectives. To simplistically focus on a single perspective paints a limited and increasingly inaccurate view of how humans form judgments about social and scientific issues.
(emphasis is mine) That's certainly a strawman of CC.

So, one possibility is that you and van der Linden are both fighting against a strawman of the other.

It's alternatively possible the fight is over how the results are conceptualized within cogpsi. That appears to be what van der Linden argues in DOI: 10.1177/1075547015614970 -

I argue that cultural cognition is not a theory about culture or cognition per se; rather, it is a thesis that aims to explain why specific American groups with opposing political views disagree over a select number of contemporary science issues.
It also seems to be the argument in

Or maybe the fight is over how the results are communicated to the public. That's apparently the point "Facts versus feelings" is making here:

Repeating the story that people don’t care about facts runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Or maybe this fight itself is a cultural identity battle - left side (Yale) vs. right side (Cambridge) of Atlantic - with its own CC going on. In which case, its proof of CC by example!

July 6, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

The last paragraph here touches on the wisdom (or lack thereof) of "consensus messaging."

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Oops. Somehow didn't paste the link!

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

(emphasis is mine) That's certainly a strawman of CC.
I didn't read the conclusion of that article as suggestion that the single thing we shouldn't focus on was Cultural Cognition; I took it to suggest that we shouldn't focus on any single perspective, which seems quite reasonable to me.

From what I've seen, there are few that dispute Cultural Cognition. It seems clear that people's "cultural values and worldviews shape how think about science and society" (as the article says). However, this does not mean that consensus messaging has no role to play and few (I think) would regard consensus messaging as the ultimate style of communication. It seems - to me at least - that there are many different perspectives when it comes to science communication, which not only includes different styles, but also different motivations (i.e., who is doing the communication and why). So, I find this apparent conflict between Cultural Cognition and Consensus Messaging very disappointing since it seems to miss that both are potentially important and neither is the ultimate, and only, perspective that we should be considering.

What I find baffling in all of these discussions is how rarely the actual quality of the statistical evidence in these papers has been discussed (this is true for the entire field of science communication). Thanks to Dan K for actually addressing this point in his response to VLFM to a large extent. But it is not just the flawed PLOS paper, there are a LOT of potentially questionable statistical decisions being made scattered through the consensus literature (and other literatures as well, of course). And this assessment comes without any consideration of the theoretical ideas, just pure evaluation of the evidentiary value presented. If these are supposed to be scientific articles, we should be debating the quality of evidence and not just whether we like the ideas. I agree that there are some strawman arguments on both sides floating around, but can we please engage in these debates as quantitative scholars rather than writing trite pieces for "The Conversation" or commentaries for journals that misrepresent the issues.

Seriously, everyone just provide the raw data and analysis scripts openly and let us evaluate the evidence for what it is. As much as I don't want to frame this as "two competing sides", in my in-depth reading of all of this work, one of these sides (Dan K) has been substantially more open and rigorous in their assessment of quantitative modeling than the other (speaking as someone who has has been a reviewer for various papers from these groups...).

July 7, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter(Another) Dan

Dan, is it “tomorrow” yet? I'm still without having accessed the exchange of Nature/Climate Change correspondence above. But I have read the link provided by Jonathan ( as well as earlier papers by these authors. My thus only semi-informed conclusion is the same as it was with regards to an encounter on this blog between you and one of the authors above, “Mean Joe” Arvai in December of 2015. In my opinion, there is more to be gained by collaboration than controversy.

As I noted in a comment on a separate post, I believe that the main threat lies here:

Effective and rigorous quantitative modeling, as called for by (Another) Dan above, requires, IMHO, more access to Big Data. How social science can achieve that, I do not know. But if we fail, I believe that access to the funding necessary to conduct much of the research we need in the natural sciences can be lost as well.

July 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

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