I agree with Chris Mooney — on *the* most important thing

Chris Mooney offers this observation in what (I’m sure) will not be his final word on RBH (the Republican Brain Hypothesis):

The closing words of The Republican Brain are these:

believe that I am right, but I know that I could be wrong. Truth is something that I am driven to search for. Nuance is something I can handle. And uncertainty is something I know I’ll never fully dispel.

These are not the words of someone who is certain in his beliefs—much less certain of the conclusion that Dan Kahan calls the “asymmetry thesis.”

This, in my view, masterfully conveys the correct attitude for anyone who says anything that is subject to observation & testing (I guess there are other things worth saying; put that aside). It’s how a person who truly gets science’s way of knowing talks (those who don’t really get it march around pronouncing this & that has been “proved”).

I don’t think there’s anything wrong, either, with being willing to advance with great conviction, strength, & urgency claims that one holds subject to this attitude. Indeed, it will often be essential to do this: recognizing the provisionality of knowledge is not a reason for failing to advocate & act on the basis of the best available evidence when failure to act could result in dire consequences.

There’s a ton of spirit in Mooney but not an ounce of dogmatism.

He communicates important elements of science’s way of knowing by his example as well as by his words.

For record: he could be right — because I could be wrong to think there is no consequential difference in how contemporary “liberals” & “conservatives” process policy-relevant science. (The problem, I think, is not with how anyone thinks; it is with a polluted communication enviornment that needs to be repaired and protected.)

The dialectic of conjecture & refutation is a dialog among people who agree on something much more important than anything they might disagree about.

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