One of the things that makes this blog so astonishingly popular (we recently broke through the 14 billion unique daily readers ceiling!) is its relentless topicality.
Well, just yesterday, world famous world class USA Today science journalist Dan Vergano published an amazingly informative story on research into the psychology of public conflict over climate change—and today we present a guest post from the same Dan Vergano on what it’s like to write about the psychology of public conflict over climate change!
DV addresses the challenges of communicating information on polarization to a polarized general public. Is effective communication of scientific research on this topic constrained by the same dynamics that account for polarization? Does trying to explain the phenomeon of cultural polarization itself polarize citizens?
I’m sure there will be consensus among this site's 14+ billion regular readers that these are fascinating and difficult questions, and that DV’s insights are penetrating.
I'veadd my own reflections on the experience of communicating work like mine is to the public. I anticipate the usual dissensus among site commentators on the coherence & value of those -- indeed, I'd be disappointed by anything other than that!
Dan Vergano: Pole-Vaulting a polarized public?
How do you solve a problem like Dan Kahan and his polarization puzzle? I confess it worries me. How, for example, do I write about his finding that conservative-minded men view risks in a way poles apart from other people without feeding into that very same polarization? And more important, how do I write about it in a way that doesn’t prevent me from doing my job?
I write news for a living. Sadly a rare thing now, I write news stories for the general reader, the average Joe, the man-or-woman on the street, the likely not-you if you are reading this post.
Dan Kahan: Enabling consensus on the sources & consequences of cultural dissensus
Dan Vergano initially asked me if I had any recommendations about the challenges of communicating the science of science communication -- & what it says about the sources of polarization -- to the polarized public, and in particular how to do this without triggering the sorts of dynamics that polarize culturally diverse citizens.
I thought initially I’d just draw on my own experience in this regard—and realized that would be utterly unhelpful because the sort of “public” I communicate with is significantly different from the one he writes for. Indeed, I realized that what DV is up to is quite amazing and that I really wanted him to tell me & others how he pulls it off.