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« Testing for "politically motivated reasoning": 2 nasty confounds | Main | "*Scientists* & identity-protective cognition? Well, on the one hand ... on the other hand ... on the *other* other hand ..." A fragment »
Monday
Dec142015

New paper: "The Politically Motivated Reasoning Paradigm"

What is it, how do you measure it, is it ideologically symmetric, do any of the herbal supplements advertised as counteracting it really work, etc.  Take a look & find out.

Still time for revisions, so comments welcome!



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"Still time for revisions, so comments welcome!"

This comment is more to do with the specific example you picked rather than the general point I think you're trying to make. A different example might work better.

You give the example of a person examining the factual hypothesis: "the temperature of the earth is increasing". The subject is presented with some evidence (this graph, for instance) which appears to strongly support one hypothesis over the other.

You then suggest that someone with an opposing prior belief would "selectively credit or discredit evidence based on its consistency with one’s existing beliefs". This isn't precisely what they do.

What they actually do is present a different graph of the same data. And then they ask you what the question actually means: when you say "is increasing" do you mean over the past 35 years, or the past 20 years, or the past 5 years, or the past year, or the past month, or the past day? Or the past 1000 years? Because the apparent "answer" changes depending on how you interpret the question.

They would then say that by presenting only the first graph, you bias the evidence. Because it happened to coincide with your prior beliefs, you looked no further. But because it conflicted with their prior beliefs, they examined it more closely, searching for other possible ways out. Only if none can be found will they be reluctantly forced to agree.

In this case, closer examination reveals - to quote Billy the Kidder's immortal words - that it depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is. If you mean the last couple of decades, then no it isn't warming. If you mean the last three or four, then it "is". And the fact that the answer changes is symptomatic of an invalid assumption: that an OLS trend calculation can accurately/reliably detect a trend in red noise. (Granted that's a more sophisticated analysis that the typical reader won't apply, unless they've read it previously somewhere. But they'll probably be able to recognise that that there has to be "something funny" about the reasoning to get different answers to the same question. Valid methods can't do that.) Your implicit statistical model, by which you calculated the likelihood of the graph looking as it does with or without an underlying trend, turned out to be wrong.

Note - there is absolutely no disagreement here on the facts. The data is what it is. It's not even directly about the priors - the counter argument doesn't mention them. The technical disagreement is over how you calculate likelihood.

The two sides do differ on their priors, and it was indeed because of this difference that one side revised their model for calculating likelihoods and the other side didn't. But neither side is simply deriving their posterior directly from their priors. Both sides are applying the Bayesian machinery perfectly correctly. But the Bayesian machinery has another input that can be legitimately varied: the statistical model to be used for calculating likelihood.

Or if you prefer, the sceptic implicitly included the possibility that the statistical model was wrong in their hypothesis, and took the conflict with the prior as evidence that the model was indeed wrong, raising the posterior probability of that hypothesis in the normal way. From this viewpoint, they don't even have to revise the Bayesian model post-hoc - they're just using an extended set of hypotheses.

I doubt you want to get into all that complicated explanation in your paper - journals usually impose a tightly limited word count, if I remember rightly. :-) But you might want to either pick a different example, or change the wording to make it clear that the mechanism by which it's done isn't as simple as directly crediting/discrediting the evidence presented.

I still like the way you put it once before: the difference is whether you ask "Can I believe this?" versus asking "Must I believe this?" That might be a useful way to summarize it here, too.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==> "And then they ask you what the question actually means: when you say "is increasing" do you mean over the past 35 years, or the past 20 years, or the past 5 years, or the past year, or the past month, or the past day? Or the past 1000 years? "

So your point is that then "they" ask for more specificity so at to be more precise and accurate?


Here's an example where "they" do the exact opposite:

TED CRUZ: Well, I believe that public policy should follow the science and follow the data.

Hmmm. Let's see how that works out, shall we?

“CRUZ: So let me ask you a question, Steve. Is there global warming, yes or no?

INSKEEP: According to the scientists, absolutely.

CRUZ: I’m asking you.

INSKEEP: Sure.

CRUZ: OK, you are incorrect, actually. The scientific evidence doesn’t support global warming. For the last 18 years, the satellite data – we have satellites that monitor the atmosphere. The satellites that actually measure the temperature showed no significant warming whatsoever.”

So "they" ask the question in a broad manner, and then go on to narrow the question so as to confirm a bias, to say that there is not global warming, through selectively ignoring non-satellite data, caveats about satellite data, disagreements about satellite data, and ocean heat content, and then in a vague and unspecific treatment of even the data that "they" selectively cull so as to confirm biases, go on to imply that a relatively short-term trend in one metric of one manifestation of "global warming," makes the assertion that there "is" global warming, "inaccurate."

Soft focus, violin music, and rose tint doesn't always work.


http://www.npr.org/2015/12/09/459026242/scientific-evidence-doesn-t-support-global-warming-sen-ted-cruz-says

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I'll also note that after reading many "skeptics" comments about Cruz's stated views on climate change, I have yet to see one pay due skeptical diligence (as one might expect of people controlling for the influence of motivated reasoning) to Cruz's rhetoric.*


http://judithcurry.com/2015/12/08/senate-hearing-data-or-dogma-2/#comment-749615

Which, of course, is another example where "they" do the exact opposite as NiV describes.


* Given the lack of agreed upon specificity of the term "skeptic," I don't see any validity in the basis on which Brandon rejects the label of "skeptic" for himself, and thus I would say that Brandon is an exception of a "skeptic" being skeptical about Cruz's rhetoric.....but note that Brandon does reject the label for himself.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

Thanks. Cruz did exactly what I just said sceptics would do. I could hardly have found a better example.

It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV -


Not surprised that you'd see it that way. As I said, I think he did the exact opposite of what you said "skeptics" would do; deliberately obfuscated through equating "global warming" with a short-term metric of one manifestation of global warming (against a background of a long-term trend), without mentioning any of the caveats that true skepticism would require. Whatever the label that might apply to Brandon, I will credit him for occasionally standing out from the crowd in that regard.

In other words, Cruz did pretty much the same thing you brought up in your critique of Dan's work.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@NiV--

Yes, the data is/are what it is/they are. But if people opportunistically adjust how they weigh it (them) based on their perception of what the effect of creditiing it is (them are), then that's PMRP. That is part 2 of the paper.

If an experimental manipulation of "whose side" a single graph "supports" caused individuals w/ opposing outlooks to change the weight they gave to it as evidence of climate change (so as to conform the weight they gave it to the position that predominates in their group), that would count as evidence of PMRP. That's the experimental design defended in part 3.

Of course, this dynamic can also make people adjust their perceptions of what the data "really" are (e.g., whether a particular scientist is one whose view on AGW should "count" in tallying "scientific consensus"); so in that sense the data aren't always what they are.

Cruz is one of the sorts of "experts" whose "professional judgment" it would be fascinating to test. No?

December 14, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

What you missed out from your quotation was the question Cruz was trying to answer.

What do you think about what is seen as a broad scientific consensus that there is man-caused climate change?

Note, no caveats, no precise definitions, no discussion of the disputes, the contradictory data, the scientists who disagree.

Oh, but Joshua didn't bother to notice that. Or criticise it. Or demand that climate scientists and supporters around the world should have loudly criticised Inskeep for his over-simplified presentation of a complex issue, which would surely be necessary to maintain their authority as the Voice of Science. Mournful violins. Rose-tinted soft focus.

The rules are different, aren't they? And that's why nobody believes your protestations to be merely standing up for rigorous standards of scepticism. You constantly demand of one side what you let slide for the other.

--

Anyway, Inkeep's question didn't define his terms, and presented no evidence (tut!), but we might well interpret his blatant Appeal to Authority as a reference to the IPCC's widely-known presentation of graph number 1.

Cruz responds by first checking that Inskeep believes there *is* global warming - i.e. "is" as in right now. I'd guess this is because the question was a compound of warming exists and that it is caused by man - he wants to concentrate on the first part, because the data on that is clearer, and the argument simpler. Note, again, Inskeep offers no caveats, mention of disputes, or precise definitions when answering.

Cruz then effectively presents graph number 2, by talking about the satellite data over the last 18 years. He correctly states that there is no significant rise. He correctly states - although he misses out a large number of steps in the argument here - that the scientific evidence therefore does not support the detection of global warming existing *right now*.

And the list of additional caveats, arguments, conflicting data sources, and uncertainties you complain he omitted could only make the evidence weaker, not stronger.

Inskeep might well have been able to raise additional arguments and points to rebut these, pointing out the gaps, and Senator Cruz might or might not have been able to answer them, but Inskeep didn't (because he obviously doesn't understand what the evidence is, he's just appealing to authority), and so we'll never know if Cruz would have been able to fill in the gaps. I think it's reasonable to suspect that he might not have been able to do so in full technical detail - he's a politician, not a scientist - but I think he did a pretty good job as an informed layman, certainly a lot better than Inskeep. And I emphasise again, you seem to have no problem at all with Inskeep being scientifically ignorant and sloppy, so long as he agrees with your conclusions. You only complain about Cruz's failure to deliver a properly-complete-and-robust 30-second scientific treatise off the cuff and under pressure during a semi-hostile interview on national radio. And our failure to denounce him for it.

So yeah. I'm not surprised, either. :-)

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Dan,

"But if people opportunistically adjust how they weigh it (them) based on their perception of what the effect of creditiing it is (them are), then that's PMRP."

Yes. But my point is they're not deciding to adjust weights based on their perception of the effects of crediting them - they're deciding how thoroughly to search for counter evidence based on their perception of it conflicting with their priors, and then adjusting weights based on the additional evidence / alternative interpretations found as a result of that search.

The question is, if they had searched and not been able to come up with any counter-argument, would they have changed their weights anyway?

And I believe your evidence regarding the effect of scientific literacy on polarisation answers that question. If it was simply a matter of conflict with identity causing them to change weights, then people with low scientific literacy would find it as easy to change weights as those with high literacy. But if instead the effect is to induce people to search for counter-evidence, and the scientifically literate are better at that, then scientific literacy would increase polarisation.

In other words, only somebody who was scientifically literate would spot or know about the 18-year trend counter-argument. A strong conservative who didn't know about that would be forced to accept the apparent implications of the first graph. The tricky thing to explain, you see, is not why the scientifically literate are polarised, but why the scientifically illiterate are not.

Do you see what I mean?

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

==>: "Oh, but Joshua didn't bother to notice that. Or criticise it."


Whether or not I do is not relevant to whether anyone else does

But anyway, I noticed it. I didn't criticize it, but I won't defend it. And I'm happy to criticize it. I think that there's validity in the critique that you offered to Dan. The lack of specificity is a problem which makes drawing conclusions extremely difficult.

I see these behaviors on both sides and I'm quite happy to criticize them on both sides, but....as I said, whether or not I do isn't relevant to whether you do or not, or far more interestingly whether or not self-described "skeptics," as a group, do or not. (Generalizing from your example isn't particularly interesting. But I am seriously wondering whether you're even capable of criticizing "skeptics" for the same behaviors you criticize in "realists." I am really beginning to wonder whether or not the rose tint and soft focus actually make you enable to see it).


==> " Or demand that climate scientists..."

Demand? I'm not demanding anything, nor am I in any position to do so.

== "And that's why nobody believes your protestations to be merely standing up for rigorous standards of scepticism. "

It isn't relevant, IMO, whether other people "believe" that my criticisms are simply standing up for rigorous standards. Whether or not they are doesn't speak directly to the validity of my criticisms. Once again, you're engaging in fallacious reasoning. Which is odd for someone so capable of profound reasoning when your "motivations" aren't activated.

==> "You constantly demand of one side what you let slide for the other...."

However, not that it really matters whether you think that or not, I will say that isn't true. I get quite a bit of flack for offering similar criticisms of realists. But like I said, I don't expect you to (1) bother to check for ascertaining the validity of the assertion before making it, or, evaluating the evidence fairly even if you did.


==> "Anyway, Inkeep's question didn't define his terms, and presented no evidence (tut!), but we might well interpret his blatant Appeal to Authority as a reference to the IPCC's widely-known presentation of graph number 1."

Which is fine. So it's one side of the problem. But it doesn't justify your lame excuse for Cruz.


==> "Cruz responds by first checking that Inskeep believes there *is* global warming - i.e. "is" as in right now."

That's pretty funny. You just defined "is" in a completely partisan manner. Not to mention a fallacious one - because the next thing that we'll hear from Cruz or the scientific "experts" that he places trust in is that no one doubts that the Earth is warming and that ACO2 is contributing to that warming.

==> " he wants to concentrate on the first part, because the data on that is clearer, and the argument simpler. "

Right, not because he's a politician, who wants to advocate for certain policy objectives by offering vague and unspecific language that hides uncertainty.

==> " and so we'll never know if Cruz would have been able to fill in the gaps. ..."

If he is capable of doing so, then he should have done so as a matter of course. To not do so is "unprofessional." If he didn't, then "skeptical" scientists and "skeptics" more generally, should be criticizing him for weighing in without a sufficient grasp of the facts, as opposed to praising him for his deep level of understanding as they've done.

At this point I think that we've just reached the "wow" stage in this discussion. We are so far apart on this, there's really no point in further discussion.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Just to elaborate here before I go...

==> "It isn't relevant, IMO, whether other people "believe" that my criticisms are simply standing up for rigorous standards. Whether or not they are doesn't speak directly to the validity of my criticisms. Once again, you're engaging in fallacious reasoning. Which is odd for someone so capable of profound reasoning when your "motivations" aren't activated."

My point was that you engaged in an ad hom, which of course is fallacious. Whether or not I am being "professional" in my criticisms does not speak to their validity. I could be completely one-sided and incapable of seeing or criticizing among "realists the behaviors I criticized from Cruz (it so happens that I'm not)....but whether I am or not doesn't speak to whether my criticisms of Cruz were valid. For you to offer criticism of me as being one-sided is perfectly fine, in a sense. But for you to offer it in a context of discussing whether or not my criticisms of Cruz were valid is, IMO, quite unfortunate. I would hope that our discussions would not generate to that level of discourse.

So then thinking back to the "open-letter" thread, I guess it's time for me to rethink my approach with you, as if it's reached the point where I see diminishing returns I have to evaluate more closely how to achieve my goals. It isn't lost on me that you probably seem my criticisms of your soft-focus and rose tinting to be essentially the same.

December 14, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Within the narrow context of science communication, where scientists often get derailed is in their expectation that others, members of the public, will process the scientific data that they present in the manner in which their cultural subset has trained them to do. And come to the same conclusions.

In that regard, learning that their potential audience is likely to filter the information presented within their own current personal set of cultural values is essential to furthering effective communication between scientists and other groups. Thus, I have often cited Dan Kahan’s work to other scientists interested in effective communication.

I think that the utility of the body of the paper above, detailing what is happening in science communication as a result of processes of cultural cognition lacks a needed context as to how things got to where they are.

Most concerning, I think that the conclusions are in error.

1.
“Of far greater utility, however, would be research aimed at identifying means for preempting the “entanglement” of policy-relevant facts and antagonistic, identity-defining meanings from forming in the first instance. The conditions that give contested factual beliefs an identity-expressive significance are pathological, both in the sense of being rare and being inimical to societal wellbeing. But we
know far too little about why, when , or how they occur.”

And

2.
“The empirical science most likely to protect enlightened democracy is one that enlarges our understanding of the social processes (ones having little to do with either messages or clear expositions of complicated scientific concepts) that normally enable culturally diverse citizens to share with one another so much more scientific knowledge than any individual (including any scientist) can possibly be in a position to comprehend on his or her own.”

In my opinion, both 1 and 2 are wrong.
The level of civilization (organized culture) needed to sustain democracy or scientific inquiry is very exceptional for humans, and also difficult to sustain. Tribal organization is much closer to the human historic norm.
The conditions that give contested factual beliefs an identity-expressive significance are NOT pathological, and in fact are central to how human societies formed and are built.

The idea that societies will enable culturally diverse citizens to share with one another IS unique, and only has succeeded at certain times in human history. These eras, like for example the Renaissance, are happy confluences of times when the beginnings of openness leads to economic gains that lead to even greater liberty and openness to new ideas (including science) and, to even greater prosperity. On the other hand, given enough economic destabilization, even what was arguably the most highly educated and most scientific nation at the time (Germany) can sink into Nazism. Individuals and groups of individuals can, especially in times of economic stress, exploit other groups of people’s sense of identity for their own gain. People who are very good at this are called demagogues. They gain popular support and political power by inciting the emotions, passions and prejudices of significant numbers of the members of the public.

A lesser form of this is called marketing. In a time with a broad middle class, this included appeals to “keep up with the Joneses”. Our current database enabled methods, and the increasing economic stratification of our society encourage targeted marketing and political outreach to highly segmented select interest groups. Which, with media tied to marketing to these targeted groups, enhances further segmentation.

In my opinion, the key underlying component that is missing from this paper, is an analysis of what it is that gives certain facts social meanings, and how those became tied to personal identity. Before one can develop disentanglement strategies, greater understanding of entanglement is needed. How did certain policy-relevant facts develop the antagonistic social meanings that transform them into badges of membership in and loyalty to competing groups?

I don’t think that the public in general spends much time evaluating new issues, like climate change, in order to figure out where to fit it into their personal identities. I think that much of the positioning was done for them. Climate change denial is a natural outgrowth of human tendency to project a future much like the past. But its significance as a political movement is largely a creation of corporate entities with a vested interest in maintaining their economic status. It worked by appealing to pre-existing identities, like anti-environmentalism and anti-intellectualism. It also utilizes the very real fears of those who are downwardly mobile in our society. Many of whom hold or held jobs related to or dependent on fossil fuels. This created a “fit”. I think that effective science communication (and promotion of effective liberal democracy) does require "disentanglement" but that effort also hinges on understanding and figuring out how to counter these marketing efforts.

December 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

"Climate change denial is a natural outgrowth of human tendency to project a future much like the past."

Sort of. It arises out of our acquired scepticism of people standing on street corners saying "The end of the world is nigh." So far, the future has turned out a lot like the past - i.e. we're still here.

One of these days one of them will be right, but not this time, I think.

"But its significance as a political movement is largely a creation of corporate entities with a vested interest in maintaining their economic status."

Conspiracy theory.

"It worked by appealing to pre-existing identities, like anti-environmentalism and anti-intellectualism."

Anti-environmentalism pre-existed because of environmentalism's failed claims back in the 1970s that the end of the world was nigh. We were told that resources were running out, population was outstripping food supply, and famine, war, and global social collapse were all but inevitable.

When that didn't happen, they simply moved on to a new set of apocalyptic predictions, as if the last set had never happened. Millennarian cults always do.

By "anti-intellectualism" I assume you mean the opposition to the pretentious pseudo-intellectual elitists, who came up with such marvels as post-modernism. The sort of intellectual who builds bridges, computers, electron microscopes, mobile phones, satellites, the internet, etc. is still very much respected.

"It also utilizes the very real fears of those who are downwardly mobile in our society. Many of whom hold or held jobs related to or dependent on fossil fuels."

Everyone is dependent on fossil fuels. Absolutely everyone. The poor more so than the rich, true, but our entire modern industrial society is built on the availability of cheap energy, and all the technology that makes possible. Try pledging to spend the next year using no fossil fuels, or any product manufactured or delivered with fossil fuels, and you'll see how interwoven it is with everything we do, and the true cost of doing without it.

I think part of the problem is that the machinery of life has become so well integrated into the scenery that a lot of us don't even realise it's there. That stuff appears in the shops by magic, we don't truly need all that ugly, messy industry any more, and if we got rid of it the only people who would suffer would be rich oil executives and a few unfortunate coal miners and oil rig workers.

If I was in charge of the fossil fuel industry, I'd be sorely tempted to give society exactly what it was asking for. I'd announce that for the next year I was going to reduce the amount of fossil fuel delivered to the American economy by 80%. No more oil. No gas. No coal. No electricity. No cars. No airplanes. No metal smelting. What energy there was would go on absolute essentials, prices would skyrocket until the few who could still afford it had been reduced to match the supply, any industry that couldn't survive with those prices would have to sack its workers, and anyone asking how they're supposed to survive now would be pointed in the direction of the environmentalists whose grand idea it was.

What's best about the idea is that the fossil fuel industry would love it. They wouldn't have to spend a fraction as much on extracting it, and what they did sell would be at utterly extortionate profit rates, with prices rocketing in the scramble to get hold of what little is available. All it would require is giving somebody a legal monopoly on supply.

Fortunately, enforcing a monopoly would be near impossible against that sort of pressure, and the energy industry are in any case responsible/moral enough not to wreck industrial civilisation out of pique at its ingratitude. Fortunately for us all, oil executives are a lot nicer than I am.

I do think, though, that they're making a serious mistake in not being more active in educating people, in the realities of how society works and the likely consequences of the idealists' utopian socialist schemes. It's a different sort of anti-intellectualism - industrialists being a type of intellectual too.

December 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Industrialist intellectuals, including those within the fossil fuel industry have accepted the reality of anthropocentric climate change for quite some time. The question is what to do about it, in a context in which the corporations involved are short term profit driven machines. Promoting climate denial is then a business strategy that maintains current, or even accelerated fossil fuel production. http://graphics.latimes.com/exxon-research/ and http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/02/windfall_mckenzie_funk_describes_the_business_of_climate_change.html

December 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

"Industrialist intellectuals, including those within the fossil fuel industry have accepted the reality of anthropocentric climate change for quite some time."

Do you mean 'anthropogenic'? It depends what you mean by that - do you mean any change? Significant change? Dangerous change? Do you mean some have accepted it or lots have?

According to a lot of definitions - I accept the reality of anthropogenic climate change, but I'd also consider myself a classic sceptic. It's complicated.

"The question is what to do about it, in a context in which the corporations involved are short term profit driven machines."

'Profit' is is a measure of the added benefit of an activity to general human welfare. Maximising profit is precisely what we want them to do. Again, this is a case of people not understanding or appreciating the system that gives them the healthy, prosperous, enjoyable modern lifestyle most of them lead. Profit is what motivates each of us to help one another, and how we thank people for helping us.

'Corporations' are a social fiction - a corporation is simply a group of people who have come together to offer a service to society, so that in all fairness society will offer them other services in return. The idea is that all the individuals involved benefit from cooperating in this way - investors, employees, and customers. 'Profit' simply measures the benefit achieved by people working in support of one another, and the more good we can do for the least effort expended the better. That's what the market system is designed to achieve - organising and motivating voluntary cooperation between people for the maximum collective benefit of all those people.

And the idea that some people want to smash this system is one of the most bizarre in all human history.

Like I said - if you want to, you can personally pledge not to use any fossil fuels any more. The pain this would cause you is a measure of the 'profit' to society that the energy industry provides, and your unwillingness to accept that pain is pure profit-seeking. The market provides what people want, and the market continues to supply fossil fuels to you precisely to alleviate that pain. That's what that profit represents. You gave them it, so you didn't have to live a life without fossil fuel.

If you don't want oil companies to profit, stop buying their product. It's as simple as that!

As I pointed out above, restricting the supply of fossil fuels would *benefit* the fossil fuel industry, because they could raise prices and make *more* money for *less* work. They're not going to be against that! This idea that the fossil fuel industry is engaged in a protectionist conspiracy to keep selling oil while the world burns is just nuts. One, they've got to live on this planet too. Two, because they've got all the energy supply infrastructure, contacts and expertise to have a headstart developing new technologies and alternatives, it would put them ahead of the competition. Three, because the biggest profits always appear just after technological change, as people learn how the new technologies and systems work, and fade way as competition erodes individual advantage.

Had the science panned out, it would have been hugely beneficial to the fossil fuel companies, which is why several of them were funding mainstream climate science. (CRU, for example, lists Shell, BP, the Central Electricity Generating Board, Eastern Electricity, the Irish Electricity Generating Board, National Power, and the Sultanate of Oman among their funders!) It's why they got involved in investigating it in the first place.

The question is what to do about it, when ordinary people are not prepared to pay the cost in their own poverty, deaths and misery that stopping the use of fossil fuels would incur. 'Corporations' just implement that collective decision.

December 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Gaythia--

In my opinion, the key underlying component that is missing from this paper, is an analysis of what it is that gives certain facts social meanings, and how those became tied to personal identity. Before one can develop disentanglement strategies, greater understanding of entanglement is needed. How did certain policy-relevant facts develop the antagonistic social meanings that transform them into badges of membership in and loyalty to competing groups?

Agree -- but missing from paper b/c missing period.

also agree "tribalism" is historical norm. Maybe we disagree -- but maybe not -- that "fact polarization" is distinctive of post-tribal; of Liberal Republic of Science...

December 15, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@NiV:

As Koehler study illustrates, adjusting how "hard" one tries to find a problem w/ the evidence based on its nonconformity to prior is confirmation bias (or if motivated by political predispositions, PMRP). (The scientists in the study overwhelmingly agreed that scrutiny of quality of methods should be indpendent of priors.)

For sure people more adept at critical reasoning do this -- that's what accounts for "system 2 motivated reasoning."

I very much mean to include that in PMRP.

Definitely *not* a form of information processing that is geared to figuring out truth; it's one geared to fending off threats to one's existing beliefs.

December 15, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"As Koehler study illustrates, adjusting how "hard" one tries to find a problem w/ the evidence based on its nonconformity to prior is confirmation bias (or if motivated by political predispositions, PMRP)."

I agree.

I'm just saying that in this case I think it would be mediated by affecting the effort spent looking for reasons to alter the weights, rather than simply altering the weights directly because of their consistency/inconsistency with prior beliefs/identity.

"Definitely *not* a form of information processing that is geared to figuring out truth; it's one geared to fending off threats to one's existing beliefs."

On it's own, no. That's precisely why we have an 'adversarial' system in both science and justice.

December 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV:

Sometimes mediated, I agree-- but when it turns out that people *see* different things in a PMRP design study, there's presumably not much 'counterargument' going on. The 'biased search' there is for sure being driven by a some out-of-sight cognitive daemon

December 16, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,

Yes. That's why I said that it might be specific to the particular example you picked. Your proposed mechanism might be how it works in some other cases. I don't know.

Although I don't think in most of your studies you've got a lot of direct information on mechanisms. The 'saw a protest' experiments do help to eliminate a broad range of possibilities through their inherent symmetry, but I don't know if they truly rule out any effort-based mechanisms entirely. I suspect I could construct some hypotheses, if I tried hard enough.

By the way, was there any increased polarisation effect with increasing cognitive reflection ability (or "legal literacy"?) in your 'saw a protest' experiments? Is everyone affected the same, or are some people better at constructing justifications and slanted interpretations of the video than others?

If the scientific questions show one pattern, and the protest videos show another, there might be two different mechanisms in effect.

December 16, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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