Its time for the first "MAPKIA!"! [Make a prediction, know it all!"] episode of 2016!
Yup--this wildly popular feature of the CCP Blog—the #1 most popular game show in Macao for two years running—has been renewed for another season!
It’s of course inconceivable that anyone doesn’t know the rules, and I don’t mean to insult anyone’s intelligence, but legal niceties do require me to post them before every contest. So here they are:
I, the host, will identify an empirical question -- or perhaps a set of related questions -- that can be answered with CCP data. Then, you, the players, will make predictions and explain the basis for them. The answer will be posted "tomorrow." The first contestant who makes the right prediction will win a really cool CCP prize (like maybe this or this or some other equally cool thing), so long as the prediction rests on a cogent theoretical foundation. (Cogency will be judged, of course, by a panel of experts.)
Actually, though, the rules are being significantly modified for this particular episode! The question I’m going to pose has to be answered with data from the Pew’s big hit “Public vs. the ‘Scientists’ ” Report from last yr.
As you likely all realize, I’ve been going on & on since last yr about the fun that can be had poking around in the “public” portion of Pew’s report.
In previous posts, I showed that the data in Pew’s study (for the public rspts; the data for the AAAS members who formed the “scientist” sample hasn’t been released, at least not yet. . .) corroborates the usual story about politically disputed risks: namely, that as science literacy goes up, cultural polarization (measured by one or another proxy for cultural identity) intensifies in magnitude.
Well, the study also has some interesting “science attitude” items, one of which is this:
I’m going to call this the Pew “Malthusian worldview” item.
“What do you think,” the question effectively asks,
are we in fact just like all the other stupid animals who keep multiplying in number and engorging themselves on all their foodstuffs and other necessary resources until they crash, calamitously, over the top of the Malthusian curve in some massive die off? Or are human beings special precisely because their reason allows them to keep shifting the curve through technological innovation?
Consider climate change to be history’s “biggest ‘I told you so’ ” confirmation of what “Marx wrote about capitalism’s ‘irreparable rift’ with ‘the natural laws of life itself’ ” and what “indigenous peoples" have been "warning about the dangers of disrespecting ‘Mother Earth’ [since] long before that”?
Then answer “2” is for (or just is) you!
Right! These are the same fools who told us that we couldn’t have a city more populous than 200,000 people or we’d be choking to death on our own excrement! Well, thanks to the advent of modern sanitation systems, reinforced with related advances in public health, we can safely inhabit cities orders of magnitude larger and more dense than the ones whose residents regularly succumbed to devastating outbreaks of cholera in the 19th century.
Sure, we'll face some new challenges but we’ll just blast our shit into outer space & everything will be fine-- just you watch & see!
Hey—did you hear about those cool mirror-coated nanotechnology flying saucer drone things that automatically levitate up to just the right altitude to reflect the sunlight necessary to neutralize climate change & keep temperatures here on earth a comfortable 72 degrees everywhere yr ‘round?
This changes ... nothing!
That's answer number "1" talking!
So the question is, should we expect the Pew item to tap into those two opposing mindsets?
How powerfully (if at all) will responses to the Pew Malthusian Worldview item predict beliefs and attitudes toward technological and environmental risks like climate change, fracking, nuclear power, and GM foods? Will it be a stronger predictor than political partisanship? Will responses interact with—or essentially amplify—the explanatory power of political ideology and party identification?
What will the relationship be between the Malthusian Worldview item and science literacy? Will responses be correlated with it—and if so in which direction? Will higher science literacy magnify the correlation between responses to the Malthusian Worldview item and opposing perceptions of environmental and technological risks--just as higher science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization on climate change, nuclear power, fracking, and the like?
Perhaps my framing of the question implies an answer. But if you think I have one, then obviously mine could be wrong!
“Make a prediction know it all”—and explain cogently the reasoning for it and how one might test your conjecture with Pew dataset items, which have been featured in previous posts and are set forth in their entirety at the Pew site.
Here’s your chance to win not only a great prize but to also to demonstrate to all the schoolchildren in Macao and to billions of other curious and reflective people everywhere that you, unlike everybody else, really knows what the hell you are talking about when it comes to making sense of public perceptions of risk.
Just post your prediction, & take a stab at specifying a testing strategy, in a comment below. I'll do the analyses & we'll see what you got!
It's that friggin' simple!
Ready ... set ... MAPKIA!