Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Climate of Status Quo

Science writer Chris Mooney had a good article in Mother Jones yesterday. Titled The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science -- How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link, it looks at some of the factors that are involved with how certain people trust or distrust facts with which they are in disagreement.

According to some classic research, our attitudes can be based upon our classifications as "individualists" or "communitarians" in combination with either "hierarchical" or "egalitarian" outlooks. Conservative Republicans are typically "indiviualist-hierarchical" while liberal Democrats would be "communitarian-egalitarian."

Dan Kahan, the author of the study, sums it up nicely:

Conservatives are more likely to embrace climate science if it comes to them via a business or religious leader, who can set the issue in the context of different values than those from which environmentalists or scientists often argue. Doing so is, effectively, to signal a d├ętente in what Kahan has called a "culture war of fact." In other words, paradoxically, you don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.
On a tangential note, I see that today's Rapture Index is the highest ever: 184. This is because category #38, Wild Weather, has been recently elevated. I think it's funny that the keeper of these categories sees no irony between category
43 Climate: Record cold temps put the freeze on global warming hype.
and categories #38 and #45:
38 Wild Weather: The US is hit by a historic tornado Outbreak.
45 Floods: Heavy flooding in South America and Europe.
What values would give these facts a fighting chance?

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