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« Guest post: early interest in science predicts long-term trust of scientitsts | Main | What's more disgusting--fecal transplants or semi-automatic guns? (Data collected far in advance of Las Vegas and other mass shootings) »
Sunday
Apr292018

Weekend update: Precis for "are smart people ruining democracy? What about curious ones?"

This is a follow up on  this:

Whence political polarization over seemingly complex empirical issues essential to enlightened self-government? 

The answer is not what many smart peolple surmise.  Lots of public opinion analysts, including a large number who hold university appointments, assume the phenomenon of polarization originates in the public's over-reliance on heuristic reasoning (the fast, intuitive, emotional sort that Kahneman calls "System 1”).

As plausible as this conjecture might be, though, it turns out to be wrong.  Flat out, indisputably, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt wrong. 

An already immense and still growing body of research in the decision sciences demonstrates that the citizens most disposed to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (Kahneman’s “slow,” “System 2” thinkers) are in fact the most polarized ones on the facts of climate change, gun control, fracking, nuclear power, etc. 

It would be a silly interpretation of these data to mean “smart” citizens are “ruining democracy.” But what isn’t silly at all is the conclusion that our “science communication environment” has become polluted by the entanglement of positions on policy-relevant facts, on the one hand, and individuals’ cultural identities, on the other.

If one tries to make people choose between knowing what science knows and being who they are, they will predictably choose the latter.  It’s that simple.  When that happens, moreover, democracy loses the contribution that its most cognitively proficient members normally make to guiding their peers into stances consistent with the best available evidence on real threats to their wellbeing and how to counteract them.

But the news is not relentlessly bad:  New work shows that culturally diverse citizens who are curious about science display signs of immunity to the “identity-protective cognition” dynamic that I have just described.

Understanding why their interest in science protects citizens from the baleful consequences of a polluted science communication environment—and how that dynamic might be self-consciously  harvested and deployed within democratic societies—is now one of the most urgent objectives of the new “science of science communication.”

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Reader Comments (42)

FYI - if you missed my post of the non-paywall version of the Motta paper downstairs, here it is again:

https://rdcu.be/Mmfv

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan-- saw it, thanks.

I will ask him if he'd like to do guest post on his research

April 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Apples and oranges (or maybe tangelos)?

First,

The answer is not what many smart peolple surmise. Lots of public opinion analysts, including a large number who hold university appointments, assume the phenomenon of polarization ...


Then,

An already immense and still growing body of research in the decision sciences demonstrates that the citizens most disposed to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (Kahneman’s “slow,” “System 2” thinkers) are in fact the most polarized ones on the facts of climate change, gun control, fracking, nuclear power, etc.

This seems to be equating "the polarization or polarization," more generally, with polarization on a set of facts related to a specific issues. I would suggest that not only are they not the same thing, but that also, maybe there are differences in the related causality.

-----------------

Not to mention...

When that happens, moreover, democracy loses the contribution that its most cognitively proficient members normally make to guiding their peers into stances consistent with the best available evidence on real threats to their wellbeing and how to counteract them.

I am dubious about the confidence you place in your ability to measure a broad categorization of cognitive proficiency. Seems to me that the science of measuring cognitive proficiency has a long way to go before we can validly make such broad categorizations.

But even more so, (and in part based on my skepticism about the validity of your measuring process for determining cognitive proficiency) I am dubious about your apparent assumption that those who you deem as more "cognitively proficient" should be guiding their less "cognitively proficient" peers.

Should we just administer your tests of cognitive proficiency nationwide and then empower those who score highest to "guide" those you deem deficient in cognitive proficiency?

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

So annoyed by my lack of previewing there, I'm just going to repost (and hopefully remember to preview this time).

Apples and oranges (or maybe tangelos)?

First,

The answer is not what many smart peolple surmise. Lots of public opinion analysts, including a large number who hold university appointments, assume the phenomenon of polarization ...


Then,

An already immense and still growing body of research in the decision sciences demonstrates that the citizens most disposed to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (Kahneman’s “slow,” “System 2” thinkers) are in fact the most polarized ones on the facts of climate change, gun control, fracking, nuclear power, etc.

This seems to be equating "the phenomenon of polarization," more generally, with polarization on a set of facts related to a specific issues. I would suggest that not only are they not the same thing, but that also, maybe there are differences in the related causality.

-----------------

Not to mention...

When that happens, moreover, democracy loses the contribution that its most cognitively proficient members normally make to guiding their peers into stances consistent with the best available evidence on real threats to their wellbeing and how to counteract them.

I am dubious about the confidence you place in your ability to measure a broad categorization of cognitive proficiency. Seems to me that the science of measuring cognitive proficiency has a long way to go before we can validly make such broad categorizations.

But even more so, (and in part based on my skepticism about the validity of your measuring process for determining cognitive proficiency) I am dubious about your apparent assumption that those who you deem as more "cognitively proficient" should be guiding their less "cognitively proficient" peers.

Should we just administer your tests of cognitive proficiency nationwide and then empower those who score highest to "guide" those you deem deficient in cognitive proficiency?

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua-- I've taken liberty of putting your insights to song.

April 29, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Maybe if I had more cogntive proficiency, I wouldn't be skeptical about guidance from my superiors, Dan.

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Wow, Joshua, from an educator - nice to know you're not another brick in the wall!

Dan - there's plenty of good music with which to make your points.

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

>It would be a silly interpretation of these data to mean "smart" citizens are "ruining democracy."

I think silly is an understatement. So why on Earth frame your title question in this way, which corresponds to a pernicious meme that has emerged multiple times in history? This not only breaks the fire-watch on said meme (which could also escape your context / control), but due to the old ghosts and echoes of conflicts that it evokes, throws in significant unnecessary confusion that can only divert from your cool line of research. And there appears to be zero gain to balance downsides against; I can't see that framing this question could possibly buy you anything useful towards that research either, or likewise spreading the understanding thereof.

>If one tries to make people choose between knowing what science knows and being who they are, they will predictably choose the latter. It's that simple.

Indeed. So this is great support for the proposition that science communication should have the absolute minimum of cultural / emotional framing, therefore the minimum average threat to identities, and the maximum defendable neutrality regarding comeback from any remaining threats. Unfortunately, communicators often seem to be doing the opposite regarding some conflicted issues, i.e. seeking more plus deeper-aligned framings, to garner from resistant groups increased sympathy with the messaging. But every deeper cultural alignment with one group will likely mean increased friction with another, every emotive adder in the messaging is a step further from strict neutrality plus more entanglement with cultural mechanics, and a fan-out of framings will eventually lead to conflicting messages, via which credibility is then lessened for any of them. Going forward, attempts to stay under the radar of cultural notice would likely bring the best and speediest result for the least effort.

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Jonathan -

What did I write that is in contradiction with your vision of how educators should think or act?

It is precisely my experiences as an educator that underlie my skepticism about how people go about assessing cognitive proficiency.

And I don't see why questioning Dan's equating the mechanism of polarization on specific issues with the mechanism of "the phenomenon of polarization" more generally is inconsistent with being an educator.

April 29, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua--

Nice try, but you are the one who expects others to defer *to you* based simply on your intuitions, devoid of evidence & any inferences therefrom. And you do it again & again & again ... It grows tedious.

April 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Andywest

Surely you aren't advocating a world w/o irony -- yet it seems that way, which is why I mistook your argument for extended exercise in irony

Trust your partner is doing well? hope so

April 30, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Dan

No way. But setting up irony or a straw-man for the knocking down thereof, is generally a device for advancing your argument. I'm not grasping why on Earth one would use gratuitous irony in the form of a pernicious meme, that couldn't as far as I can see advance your argument anyhow, and will only introduce confusion and ghosts from the past, which will divert. Plus any rhetoric that is too strong as part of the argument, represents a pollution of science communication in itself, because it significantly increases the risks of evoking an emotive / value-based response, rather than one based upon reason (and this meme is strong). Not to mention it creates some vulnerability for you, and opportunity for them, regarding ideological folks who'd like to see your arguments fail, or leverage you as support for their identity based position. The fact that you deployed the meme as irony would not necessarily survive a transplant to the outside world, no matter your protestations. Need any more reasons?

Yes, thanks, she is doing okay. There is nothing life threatening here, but serious accidents always come as a shock. We have some issues to navigate still, but hopefully the road to recovery will be buttoned down soon.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

More curiosity in recent popsci:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180426110454.htm

Unfortunately, no non-paywall version of their paper. But:

Data for the current study were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort.

So, more longitudinal goodness!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Andy - glad for positive (well, at least semi-positive) news re the lady's health.

Re your concern about Dan's meme: it is too late. The meme has already been taken over by the alt-right and used to ridicule politicians, alleged experts in all fields, and SJWs in media, education, and other PC propagators. Nordfront (an organization originally from Sweden, now everywhere in Scandinavia) chose the meme as its motto:
"We are not politicians - WE ARE THE PEOPLE!"
https://www.nordfront.se/

There is an English link but not very clearly written. To summarize, they ridicule the claim that current politicians (excluding their own few people elected to parliament) are democratic at all, since they do not represent the people - specifically as far as massive third-world invasion by migrants is concerned. Obviously a major issue also in the US.

This is a good, if somewhat outdated, report on the North American / European alt-right, funded by the British Government, Soros foundations, other NGOs:
From page 6:

"Recommendations
–Traditional counter-messaging campaigns are unlikely to have an impact on the cynical
and tech-savvy alt-right. New measures that prevent and counter the emergence of extreme
activities online and offline must match the sophistication of the extreme right. Positive
alternative narratives have been ruthlessly mocked and assaulted by the extreme-right, and
have the effect of reinforcing their narratives. In order to disrupt these groups we must
understand both their psychological drivers and strategic directions."

The report is outdated in the sense that some of the communications and funding platforms have shifted (eg. Hatreon (itself a replacement for Patreon but since blocked by the payment processors) has been replaced by MakerSupport and crypto-currencies, the Discord servers moved to VPN-operated hacker-proof chatrooms, alt-right bots on Twitter replaced) but the paragraph above is accurate. Fortunately nobody in PC-land has followed their advice.

Instead, the PC-ers are so behind the curve that they can't even react to harmless pranks in a timely fashion - see couple of days ago, somebody hacked an illuminated highway sign in Arizona that used to read "Hunt Hwy" to start displaying "Hail Hitler" at exactly midnight. Then everybody on the dark web in on the joke waited to see how long it will take for someone to complain - this is a very busy highway close to Phoenix, with thousands of cars driving past at all hours. It took 2hrs and 25 minutes until the first call came in to police, and until 7 am until highway patrol, unable to switch off the sign, threw a big tarp over it. What's known in the trade as a great troll :) Irony works both ways.
http://www.newsweek.com/hail-hitler-hacked-road-sign-hunt-highway-arizona-nazi-adolf-hitler-heil-905335

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Link to report mentioned
https://www.isdglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Fringe-Insurgency-221017.pdf

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

And yet another leftist professor attacking both the Second Amendment and the First - he will get exactly nowhere, but pollution of the science communication commonweal can now safely be blamed on him:

"... just as it has been asked whether the assumptions underlying the Second Amendment right to bear arms (written in the era of muskets and flintlocks) are transferrable to today’s technological environment of high-powered, automatic assault weapons, it may be time to ask whether this fundamental aspect of First Amendment theory, crafted in an era when news circulated primarily via interpersonal contact and print media, and in which electronic media were just beginning to develop, is effectively transferrable to today’s radically different media environment."
http://www.niemanlab.org/2018/04/explainers-are-tedious-fact-checks-can-feel-partisan-is-there-a-third-way/

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

https://ssrn.com/abstract=3155415

Humans are better at integrating desirable information into their beliefs than undesirable. This asymmetry poses an evolutionary puzzle, as it can lead to an underestimation of risk and thus failure to take precautionary action. Here, we suggest a mechanism that can speak to this conundrum. In particular, we show that the bias vanishes in response to perceived threat in the environment.

Still leaves a problem: what if bias prevents the initial perception of threat? Still an evolutionary puzzle, then? Or, were most threats during our evolution sufficiently off-topic with respect to desirability bias, hence properly perceived? Yet, then why the above effect? Perhaps typical threats were off-topic, but best responses were on-topic?

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Another embodiment of Dan's meme, in The New Yorker, one of their leftists writing on the "experts" at the EPA:

"One of the engineers said that it might take a while to “rebuild capacity” after Pruitt. But it would be done. The public, he reminded everyone, “is expecting us to protect the planet.” He said, “Pruitt is a temporary interloper. We are the real agency.”"
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/04/02/scott-pruitts-dirty-politics

Why bother with democratic procedures, when We Are The State? Lenin lives on!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Why bother with laws At All?!

"The nonprofit ... claims to “embrace the common struggle of all people of color and stand up against racism, colonialism, colorism, and xenophobia.” Among its key projects is winning protections and rights for illegal immigrants"

https://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2018/04/soros-funded-group-launches-app-help-illegal-aliens-avoid-feds/

Colorism?!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

for you:
https://phys.org/news/2018-04-german-nationalist-injunction-facebook.html

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan - it's an ongoing saga, implicating also my favorite in the AfD, Beatrix von Storch
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/facebook-alice-weidel-geht-gegen-beleidigenden-kommentar-vor-15567613.html

Her maiden name is Oldenburg - and I really like the motto of the House of Oldenburg:
«Ein Gott. Ein Recht. Eine Wahrheit.» (One God, One Law, One Truth)

To hell with multi-kulti!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

Wasn't that Marcus Aurelius originally? Yeah, stoics!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonthan -

My impression is that your decisions about when not to respond to direct questions are deliberate and judicious, but that observation notwithstanding, FWIW, I wanted to repeat my question as to why you thought my comments were incomparable with what you think should be the views of an educator (in hopes you might find an non-pointless way to answer it). It's an honest question. I wasn't able to understand what your point was.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

"My impression is that your decisions about when not to respond to direct questions are deliberate and judicious.." mostly. Although sometimes Ecoute rants on for a while and I just lose my train of thought.

"...why you thought my comments were incomparable with what you think should be the views of an educator"

More incompatible with a stereotype (which Roger Waters was critiquing) that educators are authoritarians of a type. Actually have found that the best educators are quite distinctively non-authoritarian. They are the ones that inspire the most curiosity. But, mostly just shamelessly replied to your quote as a vehicle to slam Dan's use of really bad '70's music. Probably in violation of Geneva Accords.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Dan -

Nice try,

I'm not entirely clear as to what you think I'm "trying" to do. I see myself as trying to understand your posts, and the accompanying arguments. and figure out how they intersect with or can be reconciled with or integrated with my own views.

but you are the one who expects others to defer *to you* based simply on your intuitions,

I doubt that you'll be convinced, but I don't see myself as "expecting" anyone to "defer" to anything. I ask questions if I don't understand something, or speculate about how what someone says intersects with, or can be reconciled with, my own views. Obviously, not the least as the blogger, it is entirely your decision as to whether to respond or not (and you often don't). Yes, oftentimes my questions are based on my intuitions. I'm not a scientist or a researcher in these fields. As such, my understanding is necessarily reflective of my intuitions combined with limited knowledge.

I may well be an outlier, and the only person (or perhaps one of a tiny minority) who has trouble understanding what you write in the way that I have trouble understanding what you write. If so, then ignoring what I write seems entirely appropriate. But maybe there are other non-researchers or non-experts who have similar questions. As such, you might consider it worth your time to provide explanations for me - as you seem to care about non-researchers and non-experts understanding what your write and the associated implications. But as I said, maybe I'm an outlier, and again, I don't "expect" you to go in any particular direction in that regard.

devoid of evidence & any inferences therefrom.

It seems rather obvious to me that people who are "cognitively proficient" in some areas aren't necessarily "cognitively proficient' in other areas. As such, when I see you broadly sorting people by a generalized label of "cognitively proficient' (or even "smart") I am confused about your logic in doing so.

My impression is that the evidence on "multiple intelligences" or "emotional intelligence" is fairly thin - but it is also my impression that questions raised in theories along those lines - related to the generalizability of a broad notion of "cognitive proficiency" - are quite reasonable.

Sorting people into categories of a generalized "cognitive proficiency" by virtue of the evidence you use to do so, seems a rather dubious practice, IMO. There are certainly many people who would undoubtedly be placed into your category of those who are "cognitively proficient" that I happen to think are manifestly unfit to "guide" the public for resolving polarization on complex issues. That isn't to say that I consider input from those you deem to be "cognitively proficient" as unimportant. Not in the least.

You seem absolutely certain that those questions have been investigated in such a way that your conclusions are dispositive) , and that's fine with me. But I don't see why that should mean that I should just take your word for it, even if you do score very highly on your tests of "cognitive proficiency,." But again, maybe if I were more "cognitively proficient" then my questions would indeed, be resolved.

Likewise, I struggle to understand why you go from the data you present to advance a theory of causality, and a prescription for solving, the "phenomenon of polarization," - which, it seems to me, is a much broader issue than one that can be comprehensively addressed by your data. My confusion is only enhanced by what I consider to be a rather bizarre "rhetorical" (and apparently ironic) question as to whether "smart people are ruining democracy." It seems to me that that "phenomenon of polarization" is far to complex to be meaningfully approach through such a pathway, whether it be rhetorical or ironic or not.

Honestly, my impression is that you are overselling your work. But obviously, from the responses that you get from a whole ton of people (including many who are undoubtedly far more "cognitively proficient" than I), there are many who seem to not have the trouble that I have in following your logic. That's cool.


And you do it again & again & again ... It grows tedious.

Ok. That's fine. I won't bore you with such tedium henceforth.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

Thx. Not that it wouldn't make sense for warfare to break out with someone rooting for the buckets version of the evil empire...but your clarification might be a bit of salve for my inevitable let down .

Actually have found that the best educators are quite distinctively non-authoritarian.

Maybe. That said, I ran across a lot of educators in my day who were largely comfortable with implementing an educational paradigm that was largely, IMO, authoritarian in structure. Mostly not out of a direct authoritarian bent, but because they differed from me in how they viewed the outcomes of their practice. {Certainly they weren't those who I considered to be the "best" educators. )

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"...the buckets version of the evil empire..."

So, choosing Fultz over Tatum still hurts, huh?

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

So, choosing Fultz over Tatum still hurts, huh?

As if I needed more reasons to hate Ainge.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

BTW -

I've been enjoying the analytics explosion in basketball, even if I suspect a lot of it influenced by sample size bias. At any rate, given your interest in behavior economics.

https://www.sbnation.com/2018/4/27/17277078/donovan-mitchell-highlights-utah-jazz-iq-watching-basketball

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

https://openaccess.engineering.oregonstate.edu/

Whoooo!

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Ecoute

Re partner's health, thank you.

Re highly selective memes, negative ones and indeed positive too cycle constantly in the population. Many emerge repeatedly in different groups / cultures over generations, sometimes morphing slightly or changing dance partners (they have higher impact in co-evolutionary combinations). Some are very old, for instance pre-dating the emergence of modern left and right, and appearing (especially religiously framed ones) with early writing, so are probably much older. One useful comparitive way of thinking about these is the bacterial load that our bodies carry, some being helpful (e.g. symbiotic gut bacteria), some being strongly or weakly parasitic, and some being like outright major disease. What matters for moderate democratic societies is not that they exist (it's impossible to eradicate them), but that the threshold levels of the more pernicious ones stay low enough to avoid a major outbreak. That's why a fire-watch is important. Some seem very innocent, despite being blatantly untrue, yet in combination with others can have both +ve and -ve effects, sometimes very negative. For instance 'our times are special', or 'we are special', which evidence suggests have rippled their way through practically every generation of every era. Another interesting feature is that memes which seem on the surface to be very contradictory, often have have high selective value in combination.

April 30, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Trigger warning for intuition:

Methinks the putatively observed trend is overstated, but an interesting thesis closely related to much if ygr discussion here.


https://aeon.co/ideas/say-goodbye-to-the-information-age-its-all-about-reputation-now

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Some evidence of motivated reasoning spillover:

https://ssrn.com/abstract=3162009

The current study offers three central findings. The first is that people choose to hear from others who are politically like-minded on topics that have nothing to do with politics (like geometric shapes) than from those who excel at the task but have different political views. The second is that all else is being equal, people are more influenced by politically like-minded others on nonpolitical issues such as shape categorization. The third is that people are biased to believe that others who share their political opinions are better at tasks that have nothing to do with politics, even when they have all the information they need to make an accurate assessment about who is the expert in the room. Our mediation analysis suggests that it is this illusion that leads participants to seek and use information from politically like-minded others.
...
The most striking finding is that people consult and are influenced by the judgments of those with shared convictions even when they had observed evidence suggesting that those with different convictions are far more likely to offer the right answer.

No toxic memes or other science communication environment pollutants!

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan - that article contains the most toxic meme of all, that trust is irrelevant.

None of the authors seems to have any knowledge of economics - trust is an economic variable which reduces transaction costs to almost zero - or much common sense. I'm about as inclined to take their advice on memes as I am to take these people's advice on fascism - or on any other subject:
https://i.redd.it/cij9yaxuociz.jpg

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Thanks for the confirming evidence, Ecoute!

Joshua - interesting to read your link after mine: does spillover imply we always were overvaluing reputation (while misplacing it) such that we won't be impacted (much) by the increasing need to value it more, or that with the increasing need to value reputation more, we're increasingly screwed?

A third is: maybe we're not so much sensitive to the increasing need to value reputation more, as to the increasing availability of reputational proxies. Still screwed, though.

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan - found more supportive evidence for you. Added bonus, courtesy of the great Oliver Wendell Holmes, the solution to the anti-vaccination follies:

"... We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. .... Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/274/200/case.html

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Ecoute,

You using Voigt-Kampff to see if I'm a bot? OK. Just don't use Asirra!

May 1, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

A whole gang of smart people seem posed to ruin democracy: http://www.businessinsider.com/cambridge-analytica-executives-and-mercer-family-launch-emerdata-2018-3?r=UK&IR=T

May 2, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Gaythia - perhaps they agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes that the true danger to democracy lies elsewhere? And that the means to contain the danger are well-known? Consider that all smart people - yourself included - support Holmes's reasoning on compulsory vaccination!

May 3, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

My reading of these studies is that for the most part they DO NOT involve "facts of climate change, gun control, fracking, nuclear power, etc " as much as judgement, assessments, risk assessments, interpretations of policy implications, etc.

Thus I assess the following statement to be factually wrong and/or highly misleading because of the phrase in bold :

An already immense and still growing body of research in the decision sciences demonstrates that the citizens most disposed to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (Kahneman’s “slow,” “System 2” thinkers) are in fact the most polarized ones on the facts of climate change, gun control, fracking, nuclear power, etc.

In a recent post @Dan'a description is more appropriate (closer to the truth):


those members of the public who are most proficient at System 2 reasoning are the most culturally polarized on societal risks such as the reality of climate change, the efficacy of gun control, the hazards of fracking, the safety of nuclear power generation, etc.
-- http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2017/10/16/motivated-system-2-reasoning-ms2r-a-research-program.html

Even there I think the phrase "the reality of climate change" over dramatizes the actual survey question asked.
Or again, a assessment of the hazards of fracking for many include weighing the hazards of NOT fracking -- the loss of cleaner, less CO2 emitting natural gas. In normal language, these are multivariate, multi-valued assessments, not facts.


Kahan, D.M. ‘Ordinary science intelligence’: a science-comprehension measure for study of risk and science communication, with notes on evolution and climate change. J Risk Res 20, 995-1016 (2017). Presents OSI_2.0, an extension of the science comprehension measure used in Kahan, Peters et al. (2012), and reports that those who score highest are the most polarized on the reality of human-caused climate change as well as the theory of human evolution.
-- http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2017/10/16/motivated-system-2-reasoning-ms2r-a-research-program.html

But the actual survey question asked (see Fig. 8) was
There is "solid evidence" of recent global warming due "mostly" to "human activity such as burning fossil fuels"
(agree, disagree)

The question as formed seems to be as much a referendum on what constitutes "solid evidence" in science as it is about attributing the relative contribution of human activity to recent warming. UN diplomats and policymakers seem to appreciate the distinction I'm making:

Confidence in the validity of a finding is based on the type, amount, quality, and consistency of evidence (e.g., data, mechanistic understanding, theory, models, expert judgment) and the degree of agreement.
-- IPCC AR5, Summary for Policymakers

This seems so science 101 that I wonder if there is something I'm missing.


But fig. 8 seems all the more striking given that fig 7 shows the dramatic difference the form of the question makes -- specifically the addition of a phrase such as "according to the theory of evolution ...".
A much more 'objective'/factual question would have been:
In the judgement of the majority of climate scientists recent global warming is due "mostly" to "human activity such as burning fossil fuels" (agree, disagree)
The latter version of the question is reasonably label as a fact.
The better surveys available of scientists characterized as 'climate scientists' show agreement to that or similar statements at 80% to %90.

I read @Dan's studies and want to share them with others but I run into the challenge that I believe Dan's summaries mischaracterize his work.

It seems to me that Dan Kahan needs to be periodically expelled from the Republic of Science wearing the sign:
"Science Communication: I am part of the problem".

May 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterCortlandt

@Cortlandt--Glad you digging in. In doing so, you might want to read the materials on on the ISRPM item. And on how the "according to ..." introductory clause works & why, try this & related posts.
Also, I'm pretty sure the Liberal Republic of Science wouldn't use state-imposed shaming penalties as a strategy for nudging/shoving/otehrwise managing beliefs of its citizens.

May 5, 2018 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

ISRPM link
http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/4/2/mapkia-episode-49-where-is-ludwick-or-what-type-of-person-is.html

May 5, 2018 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

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