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Thursday
Nov012018

Science literacy vs. Science Curiosity

The social, cultural, and economic influences that generate inequalities in science comprehension have considerably less impact on science curiosity. 

That's how I interpret these data:

Science curiosity is a robust, democratic sensibility.

(Science comprehension is measured here by the Ordinary Science Intelligence scale, and science curiosity by the Science Curiosity Scale.)

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Reader Comments (32)

Dan,

Let's suppose that all significant categorizations demonstrate similar science curiosity symmetry. What would that imply?

Such "robust, democratic" nature would seem to imply science curiosity isn't environmentally or biologically moderated. Neither nature nor nurture.

You might call that "democratic". But, it looks to me like that makes science curiosity a fully independent random variable. Which isn't a good thing if one wants to raise science curiosity rates, as there's no place to put the lever.

November 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"You might call that "democratic". [...] Which isn't a good thing if one wants to raise science curiosity rates, as there's no place to put the lever."

Indeed! It's not very "democratic" to be trying to figure out what levers you can push to change people so they're more to your liking, because you don't agree with their choices!

:-)

November 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

I don't suppose you were referring to things like increasing education, health, decreasing violence, decreasing poverty, etc. Which is where I was going with that levers comment.

Although, if Dan found that govt limits on the consumption of high sugar content beverages correlates with increased science curiosity, that I guess would make your point. You know, similar to how govt limits on the consumption on leaded gasoline correlates with decreased violent crime.

November 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

It's not very "democratic" to be trying to figure out what levers you can push to change people so they're more to your liking, because you don't agree with their choices.

How does is the condition of being democratic a function of trying to "change people" to be more to your liking or to make choices more similar to your own?

Isn't it the method of trying to "change people" that determines the degree of democtratic-ness, not simply the extent to which an effort is made to influence decisions?

(IMO, a distinction between trying to "change people" and trying to influence their choices to be more to your liking may not be trivial. If you disagree, then for example, do you believe that our electoral process and capitalism are inherently anti-democratic because they are based on trying to "change people"
- i.e., get people to make particular choices because you wouldn't agree with them making other choices)?

November 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Blog fav John Dewey finally gets his due at SEP:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/dewey/

November 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

An interesting take on ideology (and I would say tribalism).

https://niskanencenter.org/blog/the-alternative-to-ideology/?fbclid=IwAR3lQujtBmDwmPvxGWEffgq5an8UAkv4URXT2JQVtupDHkB_iZ9c4Jpg2Vo

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Glad to see a Libertarian finally admit he's following the European tradition - and not surprising the most negative comments on his website come from third-world multiculturalists.

As amply demonstrated elsewhere on Dan's posts however, propaganda sells better than moderation:
https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612149/truth-lies-and-tribal-voters/

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Joshua,

Thanks for that Niskanen link. Almost love it. A few criticisms:

- in all likelihood, if one believes one is freeing oneself from an ideological prison, one is probably just moving into a different prison, with less obvious walls. Plato made escape from the cave sound far easier than it likely is. The Matrix made it sound even easier than that. As does the notion of "woke" on which it is based.

- agree with some commenters (including the unfortunate-pseudonymed "Bernie Sanders = White Racist") that "moderates" of both the noun and adjective variety have to beware of the extremes framing what the moderate position is. Similarly, attempting to grow moderatism could result in the inadvertent provocation of the extremes to outrace each other in opposite directions so as to set that frame to their advantage.

- but, if moderates somehow don't allow others to frame things, and even if these moderates manage to free themselves from all framing bias, what do they use to judge? For instance, the article also talks about "...the pluralism that a (small-l) liberal society is obligated to respect and defend.". What grounds that obligation? We know some don't recognize that obligation at all, even demonizing it. Rawls tried to defend it from first principles, but his famous defense was subsequently challenged, for instance by Michael Sandel.

- "..the best we can do is to police our inner ideologue with a studied, skeptical outlook, a mindful appreciation of our own fallibility, and an open, inquisitive mind." Does this work? Do people who dedicate cognitive resources to this inner-police state actually undercut their biases, or enhance them? Other than possibly that "inquisitive mind" part, Dan seems to have found that the other parts not only don't work, but actually help defeat the project by enhancing biases and/or their effects. And, my flagging of Dan's symmetry end-zone celebration heading this blog page is that under full symmetry, there wouldn't be a way to nudge minds to become more inquisitive. Even if there was, would these bootstraps be something we can reach ourselves with some objective confidence that we're not reaching for blinders instead? Or, opening our minds so far that our brains fall out (expressed by the fear that the science curious are politically gullible)?

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

BTW - should also comment on that Niskanen article's reference to Charlie Baker's likability. IMHO, Baker got a bit too much Neville Chamberlain for my taste recently by endorsing Geoff Diehl. Such are the excesses of moderation.

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

This really belongs to one of the fake news threads but will post it here - it is simply too beautiful to miss. Besides, I can't bear to hear one more comment on "antisemitism".

"...The suspect in the vandalism of a New York synagogue was a Democratic activist and former City Hall intern who worked on anti-hate crime issues [...].He is a “queer” black man informally adopted by a Jewish couple, and The New York Times’ charity, the Neediest Cases, helped pay for him to go to college where his focus was African American studies, according to a 2017 New York Times profile...."

https://dailycaller.com/2018/11/03/nyc-synagogue-vandalism-suspect/

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Jonathan -

if one believes one is freeing oneself from an ideological prison, one is probably just moving into a different prison, ...

I'm shocked, shocked to see that's your reaction. :-)

Some reactions to your reactions.

extremes framing what the moderate position is....

Sure - if you identify a goal as being a "moderate." But there isn't any inherent reason why someone who is a moderate arrives at that position merely as a function of the extremes.

Although, somewhat closely, I think of the extremes often as pulls in opposite directions...where each end reflects a valid reality as opposed to reflecting mutually exclusive and irreconcilable realities....and maybe being a moderate can be related to triangulating the extremes, but also to recognizing that people can get locked into illusion of zero sum games/scorched earth paradigms which are more a distortion than a reality.

Similarly, attempting to grow moderatism could result in the inadvertent provocation of the extremes to outrace each other in opposite directions so as to set that frame to their advantage.

Hmmm. I react to that similarly to how I react to Dan blaming tribalistic reactions among "skeptics" on "consensus-messaging" from "realists." I think that misidentifies that actual causal mechanism. I don't think that people get provoked by the moderates, so much as that their preexisting state of provocation leads them to blame the moderates for their outrage. Setting the fame to advantage....closing the Overton window...are fine in theory, and I'm sure are applicable sometimes.. but I don't think that people are generally that deliberative...and are just more identity-cognitive.

what do they use to judge?...

Well, not some algorithmic calculus...such as let me just find the middle between the extremes....but a disciplined approach (e.e., let me seek for as many uncertainties as I can) and a healthy dose of respect for the power of "motivated reasoning,' "identity cognition," etc.. You and I have had this discussion before, and I still think that a disciplined and meta-cognitive approach can net positive returns (if only by shifting probabilities that one's views are merely reflexively identity-determined). It's interesting to consider the author's own trajectory in that respect...

And so...we get to....

- "..the best we can do is to police our inner ideologue with a studied, skeptical outlook, a mindful appreciation of our own fallibility, and an open, inquisitive mind." Does this work?

I think it does, or at least can, in a relativistic sense. It doesn't "work" in sense of moving someone to being identity-bias free...but it can move someone in that direction... I suppose we might ask does it work, over time, across a wide swath of society...and indeed, many would say "no." (i.e., look at Trump)...but looking at the arc of history (e.g. blacks and women getting rights, homosexuals gaining agency)... As much as I'm dubious of much of Pinker...I do think there is some there, there.

but actually help defeat the project by enhancing biases and/or their effects....

Well, I am skeptical of his conclusions in that regard...but again, I think it's a matter of degree that can only be someting that we'd have to measure on an appropriate scale, across time.

BTW -

In their last games, Tatum = 12, 6 & 4 (32 minutes); while Fultz = 12, 9, and 5 (21 minutes)! Could be a tipping point...(although I just ordered my Raptors Jersey - a reverse jinx edition)...

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ecoute -

Besides, I can't bear to hear one more comment on "antisemitism".

Do you move your lips when you read?

BTW, your comments like a catalog of argumentative fallacies...

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

But there isn't any inherent reason why someone who is a moderate arrives at that position merely as a function of the extremes.

Framing operates on one's biases. If, by "isn't any inherent reason", you mean that there's nothing mind independent in the definition of moderate that indicates this, I agree. But, our minds are unlikely to ever be mind independent, and hence biases will rule the day.

I don't think that people get provoked by the moderates, so much as that their preexisting state of provocation leads them to blame the moderates for their outrage... I don't think that people are generally that deliberative

Deliberation isn't needed. This could also be a system 1 behavior.

You and I have had this discussion before, and I still think that a disciplined and meta-cognitive approach can net positive returns (if only by shifting probabilities that one's views are merely reflexively identity-determined). It's interesting to consider the author's own trajectory in that respect...

Dunning-Kruger effects may lurk here. Also, this may very well be one of those cases where other people know you better than you do. So, mostly I'm objecting to the self-directed self-judged nature of this project. The author is a lapsed Cato acolyte (and probably gets points from both of us just for that). But, there's whiffs of ideological individualism, perhaps at a meta level, still emanating from their breath. I know - spoken like a true communitarian - fine - at least I am not guilty of false advertising. Or, not as guilty.

I think it does, or at least can, in a relativistic sense....looking at the arc of history...

Well, something is at work, if Pinker is right. But, it is very hard to pick out just what that is. For instance, what if it is nothing but the effect of better nutrition? Then holding nutrition stable, other causal-seeming things that seemed to also correlate with improved conditions might actually have negative consequences. Unfortunately, we have only one history arc to examine.

BTW - In their last games... I am mostly grateful that Irving and Hayward are trending up noticeably from their respective recoveries. As for Tatum vs. Fultz, the ghost of Red smiled on Ainge, then started puffing perfect smokey 0's with his ectoplasmic Cuban.

November 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Niv, & Jonathan -- On levers, obviously those who see decision-science research as justified by its use to push (or simply nudge) individuals in particular directions on policy issues will see such research as significant.

I myself, however, believe the normative end to which such work should be put is a better *science communication environment*, one in which free, reasoning people can reliably discern valid scientific evidence & give the effect to it that best promotes their values & interests, whatever those might be.

Facts don't (or don't often) uniquely determine value-laden courses of action-- either in politics or in study of human decisionmaking.

As for "democratic," I mean, following Tocqueville, to invoke the form of the word that denotes a social regime characterized by freedom & equality as opposed to an "aristocratic" regime that features hierarchical distribution of offices, opportunities, goods. Significant disparities in science comprehension, in my view, pose a threat to "democracy" so understood; in contrast, the wide enjoyment of science curiosity, combined with an information-dissemination system that seeks to satisfy that disposition w/o regard to class, gender, race, etc., is a sign of something one would expect to finding only in a society that is deeply democratic

November 4, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

If science curiosity really is a completely independent random variable, then a better science communication environment won't matter (except to the content consumed by the science curious). In such a case, as a proportion of the population, science curious (if a free random variable) was probably the same in Lysenko's USSR - at least until gulaged down a bit.

I'm hoping that a better science communication environment helps promote curiosity - just saying that if it does, there's an asymmetry somewhere that it's pushing on. But, even if it doesn't promote curiosity, at least those already curious will benefit (especially if it includes fewer paywalls!). Although, they may appear even more Casandra-ish to their non-curious compatriots.

November 4, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

So here's a motivated question for you, Dan;

What is the association of education (specifically of educational attainment) with science knowledge and science curiosity? Do more science-curious people attain higher levels of education overall?

Do you have the data to answer this?

November 4, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

@Jonathan-- I'm not sure what a "completely independent random variable" is. Help me out?

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterDan Kahan

@dypoon: Sure, I have those data. What's your prediction & why?

November 5, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

I'm not sure what a "completely independent random variable" is.

Something that is the beginning of its own causal chain - no prior causes are detectable. Radioactive decay, whether the photon goes left or right at the double slit, which way a break in symmetry goes, the patterns in the digits of pi, etc.

You've measured effects of science curiosity - less polarization especially at higher OSI/numeracy/CRT levels than otherwise. Suppose you found that increased political polarization at higher OSI had no potentially causal correlate, not even science curiosity? Wouldn't that be a bit of a bummer?

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Gab is back online after support from - inter alia - the editorial board of the Washington Post.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/if-the-internet-belongs-to-everyone-that-includes-gab/2018/11/04/1ff91c64-de0c-11e8-85df-7a6b4d25cfbb_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f3b86bb85a4a

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Science curiosity is natural to free people. They will only turn away from scientific data when they see it has become politicized by censors peddling some politically correct angle.

Examples:
1. the movie First Man about the moon landing. The entire American right wing decided to boycott it after the star claimed the flag on the moon was not being shown because the landing was an accomplishment for the entire world population, not just the US. The movie would have to gross $200 million to break even, now it looks like it won't even make half that, gross.
2. the latest Star Wars movie. Producers decided to go multi-kulti and set as stars of this future civilization a dark-skinned fat Korean woman in love with a black man. Nobody wanted to see this third-world couple in the US or overseas.
3. finally, a man who gets it - Richard Attenborough. He figures, correctly, that only by seeing the dazzling beauty of nature's creatures will people be moved to save them, not because some do-gooders claim they are endangered. Here's a bet his latest series will be an even greater success than the previous ones:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/nov/04/attenborough-dynasties-ecological-campaign

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

https://theconversation.com/even-a-few-bots-can-shift-public-opinion-in-big-ways-104377

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Ecoute,

Am Sir David fan from Life on Earth days, IMHO one of best doc series along with Sagan's Cosmos and Burke's Connections.

But,
"Producers decided to go multi-kulti and set as stars of this future civilization a dark-skinned fat Korean woman in love with a black man. Nobody wanted to see this third-world couple in the US or overseas."

Ever heard of Eldrick "Tiger" Woods? Largest draw in his "sport" in US and oversees ever. Even got me (who always puts "sport" wrt golf in whisper-soft scare quotes, as considered it little more than the reason my doctor wouldn't see me on Tuesdays) to watch. Thai mom and black dad. I know, anecdotal. But many other American "multi-kulti"'s are quite popular internationally, including that Obama dude.

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Ecoute -

No doubt - even slightly resembling "multi-kulti" is the kiss of death, especially if it invokes less than svelt Koreans.

https://goo.gl/images/y6waB2

Gangnam Style in popular culture. "Gangnam Style" is a single released by South Korean rapper Psy on July 15, 2012. It has achieved widespread international recognition and became the most viewed YouTube video, becoming the first one to gain a billion views on December 21, 2012.

https://goo.gl/images/Q13D9B

Your record of impeccable logic remains intact!

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan - the Star Wars movie was the first of that series to tank, as in lose money big time. That's the point.
As to your registered Democrat professor, he knows nothing of bots. Ferrara of USC is the top expert
https://theconversation.com/how-twitter-bots-affected-the-us-presidential-campaign-68406

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PS sorry she's Vietnamese, not Korean. My mistake.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-44379473

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

PPS Unlike some posters here I actually know a topic before I comment on it. The PC movie critics loved that Star Wars movie, the public hated it - and was not shy about telling the producers why it's staying away.

"This prompted headlines asking whether The Last Jedi is "the most divisive film ever?" According to the editor-at-large of influential movie magazine Empire, "It is unusual to have this much of a divide between critics and audience.""

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jvchamary/2018/03/16/star-wars-last-jedi-science-movie-reviews/#680acb8674e6

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

Admit I'm no Star Wars fan. Saw original when it opened, and didn't like it that much. Was bigger fan of Star Trek - you know the one: Canadian Jews in command positions, ethnically diverse officers, black-on-white kissing scenes, socialist utopia future, and that great episode with Frank Gorshin as a literally half-black-half-white alien bigot. So sad that it never took off....

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Plan S advances!:
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/11/win-open-access-two-major-funders-wont-cover-publishing-hybrid-journals

November 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan-- I don't think SCS or OSI have "quantum" properties

November 8, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Before I look at your headline post I'm going to make a prediction!

I'd expect the joint distribution to look somewhat triangular; because science curious people are curious about stuff that requires degrees to pursue, you'd expect depletion of science-curious people who attain little education. But among educated people, not all are curious about science.

November 11, 2018 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

@Dypoon-- what would one do w/ the data on hand, then, to test that conjecture ("... look somewhat triangular ...."). Can you see what you are describing in the overlapping pdd's featured in the education & scs post?

November 14, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

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