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Tuesday
Oct042016

Today's activity: read new Pew Report on climate change polarization

Read twice, comment once, as they say

 

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Reader Comments (11)

I think that this Pew Report would benefit from an socio-economic and anthropolgical/philosophical historical perspective. As in my previous comment, as this has to do with science, I think it calls for an update of the work of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn regarding the nature of our current scientific revolution.

I'd start with the work of science historian Peter Dear. His book, The Intelligibility of Nature, discusses the origins of Western European science and how it makes sense of the world. A key point is that science has two objectives, advancing basic knowledge, and utilizing that knowledge in technological advances. Knowing and doing.

What we think of as "scientific progress" is all wrapped up in the European socio-economic values of the time. Thus the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Discovery is embedded in a culture in which technological advances and comprehension of the world were focused on the Doctrine of Discovery and a brutal colonization of much of the rest of the planet. Wilhelm and Alexander von Humbolt spoke to individual freedom and the ecological unity of nature. And inspired Thomas Jefferson, who funded the Lewis and Clark Expedition. That exploration did have its scientific aspects, but primarily furthered a philosophy of Manifest Destiny.

Modern thoughts about advances in science depend on funding and thus cultural values. A lot of technological applications of "Western" science were implemented within a culture that acted first, and worried about resulting social and environmental impacts only after the fact. Carnegie built steel mills and only subsequently used what was generally recognized as his personal wealth (as if he, not the mill workers had created it) to foster a system of public libraries to benefit the masses. Advances in nuclear science are very linked to the development of the atomic bomb and subsequent desires to develop "atoms for peace". Current expansion of applications of the science of genomics is tied to the financial advancement of multinational pesticide corporations. Funding for NASA was predicated on fears of Sputnik. Understanding of anthropogenic climate change is being manipulated by fossil fuel companies for their own benefit. The problem with democracy comes, in my opinion, not so much from those members of the public who swallow the corporate line and stay on the assembly lines, march down into the coal mines or join a fracking rig. Its not about the science, it is about a very human desire for jobs to support themselves and their families in the here and now. The problem is our capitalistic/monopolistic system. Which will rip democratic values out from under us if we are not careful: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2016/10/04/fracking-industrys-new-plan-prosecute-those-who-push-drilling-bans. These are not people who care about the environment or what happens to less powerful people, any more than the railroad barons cared about Native Americans or the bison. The idea that many people have that the world is rigged against them is not really about identity, it is quite real.

October 5, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

Interesting that almost half of cons said they think that we will make major changes in how we live to address climate change but only 15% said they think climate change is happening mostly due to human activity. Sounds a bit like a Kentucky farmer I once spoke to.

My general sense is that this poll tells us more about who people are than what they really believe.

October 6, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Gaythia, just for balance, #ExxonKnew and attorney generals' use of subpoena's attack's democratic processes.

Joshua, I am surprised that it was not a 100% that thought we will make major changes in how we live to address climate change, since the EPA has already started to do this with Café and the other initiatives.

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJohn F Pittman

"Interesting that almost half of cons said they think that we will make major changes in how we live to address climate change but only 15% said they think climate change is happening mostly due to human activity. Sounds a bit like a Kentucky farmer I once spoke to."

Quite so. And has been pointed out numerous times, it's easily explained by people believing in natural climate change, which will also affect the way people live.

Slightly harder to explain are the 29% of conservative Republicans who think restrictions on power plant carbon emissions can make a big difference to address climate change. There are two obvious way to explain that one - that there are a large number who think CO2 emissions have an effect but that it is less than 50% of the change observed (or less that 50% of all the causes' effects, counted in both directions), or they are interpreting "big difference" in a different way, like the thought that major emissions cuts will have a big impact on the economy and the availability of technology, which in turn will make a difference to how readily we can respond to natural climate change.

Or it might be that they're being inconsistent, for ideological or other reasons. Or maybe they misinterpreted the question. What a shame nobody asked them "Why?", eh?

There's a bit more information on page 2. It seems that 15% of conservative Republicans think climate change is due to humans, while 48% think it is mostly natural. That is to say, 64% of conservative Republicans believe in climate change! Only 36% believe there is no solid evidence that it is changing. (Which is of course a very different statement from saying that we can be sure it is not changing.)

So, with 64% of Republicans believing in climate change, it is not a big surprise that 49% of them think it will result in big changes to the way people live.

Another interesting one is the perception of the scientific consensus. Subjects were asked what proportion of climate scientists agreed that humans were mostly the cause of climate change. The actual proportion, according to surveys like Doran & Zimmerman, is about 80-90%, so I think the correct answer is "More than half". The percentage of conservatives getting this correct were 34% and 43%, while the percentages for liberals were 23% and 36%. It appears the conservatives have a more accurate understanding of the scientific consensus! Although for all groups the percentage was less than 50%, so more people got it wrong than right in every group.

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

JFP -

==> Joshua, I am surprised that it was not a 100% that thought we will make major changes in how we live to address climate change, since the EPA has already started to do this with Café and the other initiatives. ==>

I think there's another explanation. In using the poll to say who they are, they express their ideological identity. But beneath that, there lie some people who actually suspects that as a society, we will make changes to address AGW because there is a need to do so. Maybe it doesn't explain the entire 35% contrast, but I think a meaningful chunk.

I tend to doubt that the 35% explained by a belief that completely without need, society will make major changes in how we live to address AGW. Nor do I think that the 35% is likely explained by those who think that climate change will certainly happen and require mitigation, but only because of natural changes (as certainly, someone who thinks that would have no reason to think that natural changes will happen only in a direction towards greater warmth, and judging from what we read in the "skept--o-sphere," there is plenty of reason to think that a large block of "skeptics" think that "natural" climate change will point towards cooling.

How are you doing, btw?

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

NiV -

Sorry to say, I've given up on engaging with you:

See comment #58 and #59 here:

http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2016/8/4/cultural-cognition-of-weather-a-cool-or-warm-guest-post.html?currentPage=2#comments

And the linked therein, 5th from the bottom here:

http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2015/3/23/professional-judgment-in-risk-perception-in-law-dual-process.html

Sorry to say in one sense, but I imagine that very few of Dan's billions of blog readers will be mourning for very long.

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

And btw, JFP -

I suppose a counterargument to my last point might be that they think we will be making major changes to address cooling, as cooling could be the "climate change" they're thinking of as opposed to warming. But it seems implausible to me because, as we've often seen "skeptics" argue, that when someone is asked their opinion about climate change they more or less automatically assume that AGW is being referenced (unless, of course, it is convenient for "skeptics" at a particular time to argue that people could actually be interpreting "climate change" to mean "natural" warming or "natural" cooling).

October 7, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Perhaps I misread the question in the Pew report. But you stated "Interesting that almost half of cons said they think that we will make major changes in how we live to address climate change.." I live in a conservative area of the country, South Carolina. The conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians, believe the EPA is already starting to address climate change, will do more, and the conservatives are opposed to it all. As expressed, conservatives would agree with the statement because they think the EPA is a runaway train that needs to be stopped.

Thank you for asking. The doctors found out my problem, but it set off a heart attack this April. Currently I have on a heart monitor since I did very well at first, BP down to 110 over 70, but still have episodes. I have been reading the blogs but don't have much energy to respond. I felt like responding especially sometimes when the blinded would be taking you and willard to task though you were correct in your statements, but I tire to easily. Besides, their reading inability is not something blogs appear to help. Mosher as well, even when he lays it out in simple statements.

October 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn f pittman

"Sorry to say, I've given up on engaging with you"

Are you? Have you?

"See comment #58 and #59 here"

Yes, you never did manage to explain what your issue was.

"Sorry to say in one sense, but I imagine that very few of Dan's billions of blog readers will be mourning for very long."

It's your choice. I only do this for fun, I assume other people do too, and if people argue with me I'll assume I'm allowed to argue back, if I still disagree with them, or don't understand what they're trying to say, or don't think they've understood what I'm trying to say. I appreciate it when people with different perspectives engage with me, I see it as the best way for me to test the validity of my own ideas, and I try to repay the service they do me in kind.

He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations.

That is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of; else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty.

Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition; even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess. They do not know those parts of it which explain and justify the remainder; the considerations which show that a fact which seemingly conflicts with another is reconcilable with it, or that, of two apparently strong reasons, one and not the other ought to be preferred. All that part of the truth which turns the scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed mind, they are strangers to; nor is it ever really known, but to those who have attended equally and impartially to both sides, and endeavoured to see the reasons of both in the strongest light.

So essential is this discipline to a real understanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them, and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil's advocate can conjure up.

But I've always said, if you don't enjoy the exchange, or don't get anything from it, then don't engage with me. If you're not having fun, don't do it. I don't want to upset anyone. I understand that not everyone likes having their ideas and beliefs challenged, and I'm fine with that.

My sincere thanks for all the times you've done it in the past.

---

"because, as we've often seen "skeptics" argue, that when someone is asked their opinion about climate change they more or less automatically assume that AGW is being referenced"

In the modern political context, that's what everyone usually means by the term, yes. "Do you believe in Climate Change?" What? Like Ice Ages?
It's not just sceptics.

Language is largely defined by context.

---

JFP,

My sympathies.

October 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

JFP -

==> I live in a conservative area of the country, South Carolina. The conservatives, Republicans and Libertarians, believe the EPA is already starting to address climate change, will do more, and the conservatives are opposed to it all. As expressed, conservatives would agree with the statement because they think the EPA is a runaway train that needs to be stopped. ==>

There is certainly a lot of potential ambiguity in the question, and uncertainty in how it might have been interpreted. I interpreted it to mean something more of a "major change in how we live" than CAFE standards or current or planned EPA regulations. I would imagine that others would also. But the difference between "doing something" and making "major changes in how we live" is subjective, and no doubt to some degree an individual's interpretation would be associated with ideological orientation.

===========

Sorry to hear about the health problems. I've had some myself recently...I fell and tore abut 3.9 of the four contributing tendons to the quadriceps tendon. Bad enough in itself as the recovery after surgery is pretty long and re-ruptures are a risk...but I wound up back in the hospital four days later with a O2 sat of 81 and what they thought was a bad case of pneumonia as a complication from the surgery. Turns out that diagnosis was a good example for motivated reasoning, as while CT scans showed a lot of fluid in my lungs, and suggested pneumonia, the diagnosis was made in spite of evidence that pneumonia wasn't the problem - relatively low temperature, not very high white cell count, and a very short period for the pneumonia to have developed.

I was awakened at 12:30 AM the 2nd night in the hospital by an infectious disease doctor who said that he was looking over my chart and the diagnosis just didn't 'add up. So he started asking me about my history and we discussed my hypertrophic cardiomyopathy...which means that one of the walls of my heart is thicker than normal and which means that the heart is a bit stiff and has to work extra hard to pump out blood. Long story short, he concluded that it was a perfect storm of events - not taking a beta blocker I usually take because I was told not to take medications before the surgery, dehydration (I was told not to drink before surgery), fluids pumped into my body for the surgery, pain, lack of sleep (I went about 4 days with practically no sleep) - which lead to a condition of heart failure which caused the fluid build-up in my lungs.

Lying there in a hotel room on my own, being told that I had heart failure was a life changing experience. After never being in a hospital previously in my life, never having had surgery or life-threatening illness, I had visions of a much changed life in my future, with significant disability. As it turns out, the "heart failure" was more of a discrete event, and I'm back to baseline with what appears mostly to be a chronic, but not life altering, condition - along with a leg that requires about 5 months of physical therapy...

But being in such a vulnerable state, staring at a future of dependence and disability, has left me in an altered state. Not all-together bad, actually, as it has made me realize better what I take for granted and left me with a deeper appreciation for what people who aren't as fortunate as I am, in so many ways, are confronted with on a daily basis.

An interesting side note. The pulmonologist who diagnosed the pneumonia was East Asian, and the infectious disease doc was British. Upon learning that the ID had taken me off the massive antibiotics that the pulmonologist had put me on, the pulminologist said, he disagreed that was the proper course of action, and well, "You know the Brits, they always think that they know everything and that they're smarter than anyone else."

Indeed, motivated reasoning and identity-protective behavior is commonly a part of everyday life, eh? My health condition became the arena for a post-colonial identity struggle.

Here's hoping that you get more energy. I'll be looking around the blogs for your contributions.

October 8, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Sorry to hear of your recent bout. I hope you have energy as well. Mine is coming back but I sleep about 10 to 11 hours a day when I work, so its a pain in the butt. So here's a toast to health to come.

October 8, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterjohn f pittman

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