follow CCP

Recent blog entries
popular papers

What Is the "Science of Science Communication"?

Climate-Science Communication and the Measurement Problem

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

'Ideology' or 'Situation Sense'? An Experimental Investigation of Motivated Reasoning and Professional Judgment

A Risky Science Communication Environment for Vaccines

Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government

Ideology, Motivated Cognition, and Cognitive Reflection: An Experimental Study

Making Climate Science Communication Evidence-based—All the Way Down 

Neutral Principles, Motivated Cognition, and Some Problems for Constitutional Law 

Cultural Cognition of Scientific Consensus
 

The Tragedy of the Risk-Perception Commons: Science Literacy and Climate Change

"They Saw a Protest": Cognitive Illiberalism and the Speech-Conduct Distinction 

Geoengineering and the Science Communication Environment: a Cross-Cultural Experiment

Fixing the Communications Failure

Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change

The Cognitively Illiberal State 

Who Fears the HPV Vaccine, Who Doesn't, and Why? An Experimental Study

Cultural Cognition of the Risks and Benefits of Nanotechnology

Whose Eyes Are You Going to Believe? An Empirical Examination of Scott v. Harris

Cultural Cognition and Public Policy

Culture, Cognition, and Consent: Who Perceives What, and Why, in "Acquaintance Rape" Cases

Culture and Identity-Protective Cognition: Explaining the White Male Effect

Fear of Democracy: A Cultural Evaluation of Sunstein on Risk

Cultural Cognition as a Conception of the Cultural Theory of Risk

« Believing as doing . . . evolution & climate change | Main | America's two "climate changes" »
Friday
Feb192016

Replication indeed

 Where have I seen this before?...

 


 

Oh, right ...

 Click here to see for yourself.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (65)

Why focus on bad work? As a general principal, I am very wary of attempts to accomplish something grand by getting rid of a certain bit of badness, though it is one of the things people are most thrown to do. E.g. "spreading democracy" by getting rid of Saddam Hussein. I'd say it worked better in the pre-holocene. Two bands of hunter-gatherers become highly annoying to each other, and one pushes the other out of its space. Problem gone. Often accomplished with minimal fatalities, so not too much to the detriment of the species.

One of my pet theories, which I hope to develop one day, is that if and when an aspiring science gets some real purchase on a coherent and tractable domain -- perhaps previously invisible -- such as the periodic table or atomic structure, it develops sets of methods, or paradigms that are a reflection of actually existing and coherent set of things in nature.

Maybe a sign of a thwarted aspiring science is that it goes on and on asking binary questions and trying to answer them with statistical methods. Some people, fond of the high school textbook version of the "scientific method", hope to force everything into that framework. An experiment in physics tests whether electrons exist or not, but we know the real work was done in gaining some (however hazy) conception of what an electron would be, and we can't so easily characterize how someone did that. I'd say that academic psychology and sociology have been stuck in that sort of "holding pattern" for decades, though that may be starting to shift.

The sciences that started out with a taxonomic phase -- what Lord Kelvin wrongly derided as "stamp collecting" fared better. Most notably such endeavors produced Darwinian evolution -- though I have no idea whether that can be any sort of model for "science of science communication". I think that a "science of science communication" following the precedents of experimental psychology and sociology is not promising, and maybe we need more of "art" of science communication for that matter. Or maybe something partaking more of history. I started out in the 2nd grade with a monthly series of "All About" books -- "All About Dinosaurs", "All About Monkeys and Apes" ...(or whatever). In retrospect, its virtue was that it was primarily science history, and I believe that gave me a foundation, realized decades later, for getting a true sense of what science is.

I believe the most egregious flaw of public science communication and education is the tendency to relate fact after fact. The periodic table and all those stick models of molecules left me cold back in high school, but Oliver Sacks' Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood was enchanting, combining the history of how the manifestation of one or two elements (esp. Oxygen) started a winding path towards understanding the nature of matter, and a precocious boy chemist's quest to recreate much of that path.

For one thing, it pays to get people to understand some things viscerally, like the HS physics teacher who filled a gallon can up with steam by boiling a little water, screwed the lid on, cooled it, and watched it be crushed by air pressure.

The common misconception that scientific consensus is "group think" can only be explained by a profound failure to communicate the life of science. To make a difference in the "Republic of Science", I think we need to communicate a lot more and more richly, and not expect one bit of "messaging" to do the trick, nor for that matter getting rid of one arguably bad bit of messaging. Science PR campaigns on the old model sort of worked as long as there wasn't a prodigious counter-campaign saying it's all a lie, and we should trust the free market to provide us with everything, including our knowledge needs (hence people who have "proven themselves" by making billions of dollars get to set up counter-science establishments that the public should trust). We are headed in a dangerous direction.

This is pretty harsh, and I'm just a 64 year old guy who's been trying to one crash course of discipline after another (such as social epistemology - Philip Kitcher a good example) after the shock of the loss of the public's (seeming) common sense about reliable sources of information, particularly in 2007-9. I'm really nobody, but maybe through some weird circumstance I do have something to say.

Most of what I have to say about science so far is summed up in 3 blog posts linked to by one overview/table of contents post at http://therealtruthproject.blogspot.com/2014/12/machines-invisible-elephants-and.html, just in case it's of any value.

February 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

@HalMorris

1. B/c people who think they are being helped & deserve to be helped by being supplied with genuine empirical evidence on communicating science are instead being "messaged" by a small group intent on marketing their own "messaging" research.

2. B/c the "science of science communication" will justifiably be dismissed as a joke if serious scholars just look down & sort of shuffle their feet (the modal response) when they observe people doing this (& doing it & doing it & doing it & doing it). It's no fun to point it out. But it's wrong to just stand by mutely.

3. Of course you are right that "fact inventory" science education is of no value. Dewey's conception of science education is the best. But even after decades of inspired scientific research in education (work that has generated lots of immensely valuable insight), no one has solved the problem of how to teach thinking ... Very vexing.

February 19, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

I saw your tweet but didn't realize that the "scale effect" was yours...

From the study:

...we find robust and replicated evidence that communicating the scientific consensus on human-caused climate change leads to significant and substantial changes in perceived scientific agreement among conservatives, moderates, and liberals alike

I'm struggling a bit to understand how they get that they get to a substantial" effect.....from a 5% increase towards "Global warming is mostly due to human activities" with a controlled experiment without any of the likely accompanying political overtones of real world "consensus-messaging" and extracted from any real-world effect of counter-messaging.

That said, neither do I see any evidence of your claims that anyone to the right of Bernie Sanders reaches for their shotguns every time they hear someone say that most expert scientists agree that aCO2 likely poses a risk of dangerous climate change - paraphrasing your argument just a tad. :-)

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

This post appears to be making a rather insulting comparison. Given that your position appears to be that insulting one's opponents is a poor strategy, do I take it that your goal is - in fact - not to convince those who use consensus messaging that they shouldn't do so?

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

I am struggling very hard to understand how these results are even publishable. if you describe what was actually done, most people will laugh. For this study, what they actually found is if you tell people what the expected answer is then ask them what their answer is, they're more likely to give you the expected answer.

It is well known that will happen. You can do it with almost any question or topic. And yes, the size of the effect may change depending on the subjects' initial views, which could be interesting, but that doesn't tell us anything about whether or not the subjects' views would actually change. If you ask these people a week later what their views are, it's perfectly possible their views would be identical to what they were before they were surveyed.

This is like doing a study where you ask these two questions of different groups::

"Who are you going to vote for?"
"Most people are going to vote for Bernie Sanders; who are you going to vote for?"

Then claiming you've found proof you can make people vote for Bernie Sanders with a little bit of "messaging."

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

By the way, I know the authors were aware of the issue I raised and even tried to dispense with it. However, their solution to the problem is... less than unconvincing. Here is what they did to ostensibly prevent the issue from mattering:

1) Asked the subjects questions about an Apple product and the latest Star Wars movie.
2) Told the subjects the item they were going to see on global warming was randomly chosen as to which "side" of the debate it'd be on.

That's it. Even if subjects didn't realize the questions about Apple Watch and Star Wars movie were smokescreens (which seems highly unlikely to me), they were still asked their opinion on a topic, given a message about the topic, then asked their opinion on the topic again. That there was a short delay in the last step where they were asked about the latest Star Wars movie doesn't make the bias introduced by this issue magically go away.

As for the second point, that just raises more concerns. The authors say:

To minimize “priming” effects, participants were told that a media message would be randomly selected for them (the consensus message was always shown in the treatment condition).

Let's assume the subjects didn't realize what the purpose of this study was... for some reason. Let's also assume they also fell for the lie the authors told them here. That still doesn't demonstrate there was no bias introduced by simply creating expectations within the subjects. You can't just say you did something "To minimize" a problem and assume the problem has vanished.

We have no way to know what the efficacy of these steps to try to address this problem might be. The authors didn't test to find out. They didn't try doing their study without these steps to see if the steps made any difference. They didn't try inverting the message they showed people to see if they'd get the same results in the opposite directions. They didn't, as far as the paper says, do anything to even attempt to figure out if these steps would be useful.

In their previous work, the authors just ignored/overlooked this problem. Now, they acknowledge the problem but hand-wave it away by taking steps they made no effort to check would actually help with the problem. It's crazy.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Reposting from Anders' blog:

Anders –

It does seem to me that Dan makes a legit point about the scale of the effect. His rhetoric in making that point seems gratuitous and counterproductive from a good-faith communication stsandpoint.

As you pointed out, that seems rather ironic given the larger context of Dan’s position on polarizing and toxic communication strategies. I can only assume that he has decided that adding to the toxicity doesn’t make a material difference if you are antagonizing people who you’re already in disagreement with. Kind of like what I’ve been telling him is something he overlooks in his conclusion about the impact of “consensus-messaging,” although I guess he could argue that there is a difference of scale in that he’s only deliberately antagonizing a relatively select group of people.

Anyway, I have never noticed there to be a dearth of irony in the “climat-o-sphere.”

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ironically, the social desirability bias that Brandon alludes to might make the implications of the study more applicable to a "real world" context, as in the real world, all such messaging takes place in a political (and polarized) context.

An amusing aspect of that is that "skeptics" frequently rationalize away inconvenient results in polling by saying that "skeptical" respondents react to perceived bias on the part of people conducting surveys by trying to counter against that bias - which if true, in this case, would mean that the real positive effect of the "consensus-messaging" would be stronger than what the authors described.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan -

W/r/t your response to Hal:

1. B/c people who think they are being helped & deserve to be helped by being supplied with genuine empirical evidence on communicating science are instead being "messaged" by a small group intent on marketing their own "messaging" research.

The study does amount to empirical evidence, even if it is flawed. But also, doesn't your work also fit the description, also, of "a small group intent on marketing their own 'messaging' research?" And you construct that comparison as an either or...can't a group be supplying empirical evidence even as the intend to "message?"


2. B/c the "science of science communication" will justifiably be dismissed as a joke if serious scholars just look down & sort of shuffle their feet (the modal response) when they observe people doing this (& doing it & doing it & doing it & doing it). It's no fun to point it out. But it's wrong to just stand by mutely.

There seems to me to be a pretty large gap between "stand[ing] by mutely" and comparing people's work to Fox News. So your justification for making a comparison to Fox News seems to fall pretty flat, IMO.


I'm still struck by how you tack towards gratuitous and polarizing rhetoric - particularly in light of your assertion that using identity-threatening rhetoric increases polarization and moves us farther from your desired goal.

IMO, such rhetoric decreases the likelihood of a well-reasoned exchange taking place.

For example, whether or not the authors of the study overstate the implications of their findings, their findings do seem somewhat relevant to your assertion that "consensus-messaging' materially and significantly increases the toxicity in the public discussion about climate change. Even if the implications of their findings are over-stated, that doesn't deal with the fact that their experiment doesn't seem to show evidence that supports your theory of the toxicity of "consensus-messaging" for conservatives.

FWIW, In a general sense, the rationale you present for the tone and content of this post don't really add up, IMO.

But anyway,wouldn't be more useful for those who deserve to be helped and supplied with genuine empirical evidence benefit from a discussion from you w/r/t why their findings differ from your speculated outcomes, more than from your comparisons to Fox News?

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I'm not going to respond to everything said here so far, because as funny, wrong and hypocritical as I find much of what people are saying about this post, it's mostly of the boring sort. I do, however, want to correct one thing. Joshua says:

Ironically, the social desirability bias that Brandon alludes to might make the implications of the study more applicable to a "real world" context, as in the real world, all such messaging takes place in a political (and polarized) context.

Even though I didn't refer to a social desirability bias. The issue I raised actually deals with many different potential forms of bias, with social desirability being only one (and if I had to guess, a small one). The reality is anyone familiar with polling should be well aware there are many ways to influence the results you'll get, and trying to boiil down the issue I described into a single potential form of bias is foolish. The authors themselves referred to another potential form of bias in the very text I quoted, that of priming.

Personally, I suspect comments like that reflect a rather misinformed/biased view that is prevalent within a group of people criticizing this post. I could be wrong. Regardless, comments like that certainly aren't reflective any real understanding of the issues at hand.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Lol!

Pedantic much?

I apologize profusely for my loose use of the term "social desirability bias" But my point stands: The sort of method bias that might have occurred with this study might very well make the findings of this study more close match real-world conditions, where an analog to the "priming" that Brandon alluded to might occur with "consensus-messaging" in as a deliberate methodology. ,

But hey - even though I don't have any understanding of the "real issues at hand," (certainly in comparison to Brandon, anyway) you can't accuse me of not having the chutzpah to weigh in regardless.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Oh. Heavens.

Pollster shows person picture of women: "Do you think this woman is beautiful?"
Pollee: Gives answer. Could be yes. Could be no.
Pollster: Most people think she's beautiful. Do you thin she's beautiful.
Pollee. "Uh... Yeah. I guess so". Might be same as before, might be different.

One hour later, Pollee is in bar with a friend. They happen to have picture of the woman. Suppose Pollee "changed" his mind after Pollster told him what most people really think. Do you think Polle actually <I>changed his mind? Or just told pollster what he wanted to hear?

If you want to do this right, you need to (a) wait a <I>significant amount of time to see if the consensus message sticks and (b) have a <I>different pollster as the question the second time. Otherwise it seem to me you've learned pretty much nothing other than people will switch their answers for a brief time to politely conform. We already know people do that. We all knew that by the 4th grade when we saw it's how kids and adults avoid huge fights. Later one, when the "pollster" leaves the room we learn what the pollee really thinks.

February 20, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlucia

Joshua, it is hardly pedantic to point out one specific form of bias, used for an argument which only works with that particular form of bias, is not the only potential bias at play or being discussed. You can pretend all that was wrong with your comment was your choice of phrase, but the reality is you could have chosen a different sort of bias to discuss and came up with an argument claiming the inverse of what you said.

Incidentally, it's remarkable you say:

where an analog to the "priming" that Brandon alluded to might occur with "consensus-messaging" in as a deliberate methodology. ,

As if this would work, which I seriously doubt, it wouldn't work by actually changing anyone's minds. It'd just work by using a confidence trick to intentionally alter what answers they'd provide despite their minds not changing. The idea of using priming to alter people's behavior regarding global warming is dishonest and despicable.

I sincerely hope nobody is trying to use consensus messaging as a deliberate attempt to use priming to change people's behavior regarding global warming. Doing so would mean they know they're just being conmen.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

@Brandon

>>'I sincerely hope nobody is trying to use consensus messaging as a deliberate attempt to use priming to change people's behavior regarding global warming. Doing so would mean they know they're just being conmen.'

I don't know whether anyone's doing that specifically. Yet bias is certainly being injected into climate change messaging. Having discovered via various studies that issue fatigue and fear memes and other effects are causing public resistance and backlash, climate change communicators are advising that messaging is 'managed more carefully'. However, their intent with this advice is not as you might think to lessen the emotive content in order to appeal better to reason and reduce the heavy biasing that results from emotive messaging, but the very opposite. I.e. the intent is to find ways of maximizing the emotive content still further, yet using more subtle and intrusive framings that don't trigger the above resistance and backlash. Messaging of this kind does not so much communicate certainty, as manufacture it, which I think would qualify as a con trick.
http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/24/contradiction-on-emotional-bias-in-the-climate-domain/

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Obviously, the whole point of "consensus-messaging" is to influence behavior, which is part of the reason that in the real world it always takes place in a politicized context. (The same being true for anti- "consensus-messaging as we see throughout the "skep-o-sphere") Even when attempts are made to try to de-politicize the delivery vehicle, IMO it is naive to think that can be done very completely. Of course the messaging seeks to capture "emotive" responses towards that end of influencing behaviors, just as does the messaging done by "skeptics" of many colors and stripes, even though some of those among us seem to want to downplay the "emotive" qualities among "skeptics" and their influenced-based messaging methodologies.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

Obviously, the whole point of "consensus-messaging" is to influence behavior,

Sure. But presumably, the purpose of "consensus messaging" is to change something more than a quick answer to repeated question presented by a person who has just presented a counter argument for a position the pollster "likes".

We already know many people like to be agreeable in person. So if the finding is that people will agree to something after they are told the position the polster thinks is "right"-- sure. But that's already very well known. Moreover, it's something that pollsters know they ordinarily <I>should not do if they wish their polls to give accurate forecasts of how people will act when purchasing items, voting in elections and so on. Contrary to the notion that those polling think the "bias" effect in polls shows any change in opinion or behavior, the notion is the "bias" effect makes the poll not reflect what people think or what they will do.

What this means is that the study here has shown pretty much.... nothing new. It (a) does seem to reflect something already known--that polls can be biased by the pollster revealing a position and (b) it doesn't show that anyone has changed their position, view or what they will do in the future.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterlucia

BTW -

I found a really great example climate activists engaging the kind of emotive messaging that Andy was talking about; messaging that is not directed at appealing to reason, but the very opposite, trying to manufacture certainty and appealing to prevalence of shared view as a persuasive technique.

http://tinyurl.com/jrb2n7s

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua, it's amazing after I criticize the idea of deliberately using priming as part of global warming activism you say:

Obviously, the whole point of "consensus-messaging" is to influence behavior, which is part of the reason that in the real world it always takes place in a politicized context.

Priming is a very specific strategy used to trick people into behaving differently despite not having changed any of their views or beliefs. That you'd conflate that with simply influencing behavior is ridiculous. I'm sure you might pedantic again for pointing out the difference between one specific form of influencing behavior that is dishonest and despicable and influencing behavior in general, but the reality is your response misses the point so hard it seems willful.

It may just be that your discussion of how messaging will always have emotive qualities indicates you have no idea what you're talking about. I don't know. What I do know is your response is absurd. Responding to someone who points out what you describe is using a con by saying it's normal to try to use emotive qualities to change people's behavior is... I don't have a simile. The level of obtuseness in your comments is just too immense.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

By the way, I get Joshua may have been responding to Andy West, not me. But that'd just mean he ignored what I said to in my comment despite it being directly relevant to what he was saying and responded to the person who responded to my comment. That conflates things just as well as if he had responded to me directly as cherry-picking what you respond to is a classic way of pretending to address issues you wish to offer no response for.

Anyway, Andy West, I don't think relying on emotional content to convince people to change their minds inherently amounts to being a con man, but it can certainly qualify. The main thing is just what the intent is. People can do that because they genuinely think it's a good idea, with no intent to trick or deceive people. That wouldn't be running a con. On the other hand, they can do it knowing their strategy will mislead people and be okay with that. In that case, it would be running a con.

My response to Joshua hinged on the fact he said priming could be used as a deliberate strategy. Deliberately using priming to influence people's behavior on global warming would definitely be using trickery to get them to act differently despite their views and beliefs not changing. Whether or not something is a con depends on intent, and in this example, Joshua told us what the intent is.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

@Brandon

>>'Anyway, Andy West, I don't think relying on emotional content to convince people to change their minds inherently amounts to being a con man, but it can certainly qualify. The main thing is just what the intent is.'

I agree that's a grey area. And in general my whole premise is that the CAGW thing is culture, which implies mainly *not* deliberate intent such as inspires a hoax or a con. But in the case of the above that I linked, these are all professionals who will be very familiar with the concept of emotional bias, and are nevertheless deliberately crafting messaging for maximum emotive effect, more recently even to the extent of avoiding the first generation effects of backfire and resistance while keeping emotions high. Communally at least, the profession knows that this is wrong because psychology and communications 101 teaches about emotional bias. All the scientists and policy makers are embedded in the community that these folks are communicating to. They are not magically isolated. After decades, many of these scientists and policy makers (depending on their innate skepticism and initial culture) are also saturated by emotional bias just like many of the public who come to believe in 'calamity' as a certainty, and hence this bias feeds back into the next generation of messaging, via the 'science says' route.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@Joshua

Re your link. Yes, a good example, absolutely wrong. Not to mention in very bad taste too.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Oy!

==> But that'd just mean he ignored what I said to in my comment despite...


Brandon - I didn't "ignore" what you said. But I'm really not interested in pedantry. If you want to discuss what I wanted to discuss, that's fine. It is entirely up to you. If you don't want to discuss what I wanted to discuss, that's up to you too.

I was talking about how, in being a methodology that might bias the participants in some manner, perhaps it more closely resembles the real world context of "consensus-messaging" - where "consensus-messaging" is explicitly directed towards influencing opinions and behaviors.

I also spoke about the claim that I've seen rather often made by "skeptics" - that a perceived bias among "skeptical" participants with regard to the orientation of those conducting a poll, prompts responses that don't reflect the true orientation of the participants - could work to actually result in this case with an actual greater "positive" effect from "consensus-messaging" than what the results of this study show (because the study results would manifest a greater negative response to the "consensus-messaging' employed in the study than what might happen if there were no biases in the methodology).

That I loosely referred to what I was describing as social desirability bias - meaning outcomes of participants to perceived orientation of the people giving the survey - isn't really of interest to me as the underlying points I raised earlier and you mostly (not completely) didn't respond to in your eagerness to explain to everyone how my comments illustrated that I don't really know anything about the issues at hand. If you want to continue to discuss whether and how my use of that term was of interest to you, knock yourself out, but you'll have to carry out that discussion without my further participation.

But unlike you, I don't really understanding of the real issues at hand - so I fully understand that I can't actually have a discussion with you that would benefit you in any way...so I won't take it personally if you want to continue with pedantry to explain how I'm making it obvious that I don't really know anything about the issues at hand. If you derive some measure of interest or satisfaction from that, carry on. Knock yourself out. If you want to discuss what I want to discuss, even if it to let me know you you disagree with my opinions, speculation, etc., let me know - as I might find that to be of interest.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Andy -

==> Re your link. Yes, a good example, absolutely wrong. Not to mention in very bad taste too.

I'm not really inclined towards a moral/taste evaluation, or a qualitative evaluation otherwise, so much as I am in pointing out how it is rather precisely, messaging from "skeptics" that both appeals to the "authority" of consensus opinion and the "emotive" realm of opinion formation.

I don't really care about whether it is "wrong" or in "bad taste." Because it is what it is, and as such, it is interesting to me in providing evidence of how people engage in the public discussion about climate change.

My point was directed towards the categorical differentiation you make between whether or not "skeptics" and "realists," respectively, enter the "emotive" realm and employ fallacies to express their identity orientation that is stimulated by the climate change discussion.

Of course, there is always the question of scale. One example doesn't characterize either side accurately. But the question of interest to me is whether such a differential characterization such as the one that you make - in contrast to Dan's evidence that shows the patterns to exist independent of identity-orientation, and which are found when identification around the issue of climate change is placed into the larger context of ideological orientation - can be done fairly and objectively.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Andy West, yup. I have no doubt there are some con men within the global warming movement for the exact reasons you lay out. I just wouldn't care to try to figure out which people do what for what reasons. Some people are likely deluding themselves, while other people may have been suckered in by the con men. Figuring out just which things are willful deception as opposed to the close-minded/willful obtuseness that also exists is a task beyond me.

For the most part. There are some people who are clearly just liars trying to fool people. I could give some names.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

>>'Of course, there is always the question of scale.'

Indeed there is!

To maintain balance (and because it's true of course), my writings have frequently pointed out the emotive engagement of skeptics (especially regarding 'hoax' and 'left-wing conspiracy', for instance). But they're seriously outgunned by a major cultural entity. Let's try a different explanatory angle on why the effects from a cultural entity matter most:

You'll have noticed that the 12 word and 3 word ('the CAGW memeplex') summary of my hypothesis, noted in a prior thread, does not contain the word 'skeptic'. This correctly implies that (while one can project some likely assumptions about them), the theory is not dependent on anything skeptics are or aren't doing.

So the hypothesis says there is a culture based on a narrative of climate calamity. Let's pretend that:
a) skeptics don't and never existed
b) skeptics exist but they don't emotively engage in sync as a co-evolving culture, resulting in much less bias.
c) skeptics exist and they are a full-on culture in their own right, hence while smaller than the consensus side they have intrinsically just as much cultural bias, albeit currently less punch simply by virtue of relative size.

So... the hypothesis that there is a culture based on a narrative of climate calamity, is the same whichever of a) to c) happens to be the case. So in case a), though there is no contradicting voice, if the hypothesis is true then the certainty of climate calamity is nevertheless just a cultural narrative, a story. All cultural narratives throughout history are not true, they are composed of the best (evolving) social glue that will maintain a social consensus. So there is not a certainty of climate calamity.

Likewise the presence of skeptics as per case b), whether or not they emotively engage as individuals, does not alter the situation. If the hypothesis is true, the certainty of climate calamity is just a cultural story. It is not true.

And if those skeptics ever make it to a full-blown cultural entity of their own, per case c), hence with much more concentrated emotive bias produced by co-evolutionary memes, it still does not alter the situation. If the hypothesis is true, the certainty of climate calamity is *still* just a cultural story. It is not true.

In case c), the skeptic side gain a core narrative which becomes the basis of *their* socially enforced consensus. Candidates proliferate, but are all minor / fractured so far. An obvious characteristic of the skeptic side is that they have pretty much no consensus on anything except resistance to *the* Consensus. But let's say the 'hoax' theory makes legions of converts and becomes this uniting narrative. It would also be untrue; it's just a story. Yet this untruth doesn't make *any difference* to the fact of the climate consensus story also being untrue.

If the skeptic cultural entity speculated in c) ever outgrew the current climate consensus, it could extinguish it, or at least emasculate it in terms of policy. At that point both cultures are vulnerable to a new player with a completely different philosophy, because they're largely cancelling each other. Yet throughout, both always rest upon stories that are not true.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Andy -

==> But they're seriously outgunned by a major cultural entity.

That's one of the ways in which I think that your argument doesn't hold up - not the least because of the vagueness of your taxonomy.

Leading Republicans that hold very powerful government positions, in fact that lead the scientific committees of Congress, regularly engage in emotive "skeptical" messaging of the "hoax" kind. Comment thread after comment thread is filled with "emotive" messaging of the "alarmed" kind. Here's a nice example that I saw recently from a commenter who gets a great deal of his praise from "skeptics" for the sensitivity of his/her comments:

kim | February 19, 2016 at 8:19 am | Reply
Peter, I’ve speculated whether or not, once we do know the climate sensitivity to CO2, we’ll be able to navigate Starship Gaia through the onset of the next glaciation to a safe landing.

I’ve finally decided that if we do it, it will be inadvertently. We, as a race, are too subject to false narratives and the belief that we understand better than we do to be able to keep a wise hand on the tiller.

Advertently or inadvertently, we’ll survive. Cheaper energy means more will survive. These alarmists don’t just threaten our species’ society, but its survival.

Just a typical, run-of-the-mill comment in the "skept-o-sphere." So commonplace that it passes by with barely anyone noticing.

Judith Curry compares "realists" to Jihadists. Spencer compares them to Nazis. Lindzen compares them to Eugenicists. Many a thread contains comparisons of the Stalinist and Lysenkoist kind.

In fact, your very own comment on a run-of-the-mill sort of rhetoric in the climate wars, that mirrors similar rhetoric through similarly (and strongly associated) ideological battles, where you speak to the "absolutely wrong" and "very bad taste" categorization alludes very strongly to the "emotive" overtones of your own reaction. It's commonplace, and very understandable, and very normal, and very pervasive.

You go further into the "emotive" realm, IMO, with your whole facile reliance on the "CAGW" meme...where typically if a scientist says that there is a risk to ongoing aCO2 emissions, of harmful climate change on a long-term time horizon, and that our policy development should be informed by that risk, they are demonized as "alarmist" who is a "true believer" in "catastrophic" climate change.

==> So the hypothesis says there is a culture based on a narrative of climate calamity.

Once again, and despite that I've said that there's little point in us covering old ground with little prospect of forward (shared) movement...

My reaction to that is that you've created an arbitrary (in the sense of subjective, not in the sense of random) distinction of what comprises a "culture" there. What you are referring to, IMO, is an inextricable component of a larger ideological framework. Climate change is merely a proxy for a larger-scale ideological battle, that equally enlists as warriors "realists" and "skeptics" who align on a whole series of issues in similar fashion, and who use in their arsenal emotive appeals, identity-cognition (identity-defensive and identity-aggressive behaviors), and a whole long list of fallacies and rationales that are internally, logically inconsistent.

But I do appreciate your attempt to explain to me in more simplistic terms what your hypothesis is...so I will give it some more time for a more careful reading. Perhaps that might reveal a new pathway rather than my sense that we're doomed to tread old and tired ground.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua

>>'But I do appreciate your attempt to explain to me in more simplistic terms what your hypothesis is...so I will give it some more time for a more careful reading. Perhaps that might reveal a new pathway rather than my sense that we're doomed to tread old and tired ground.'

Good. I recommend starting investigation from the angle that a memeplex (a cultural entity) has a set of specific characteristics, which are not arbitrary (in the same sense of arbitrary as you mean above), which also are described by the discipline of cultural evolution (weakly to strongly Darwinian, memetics is at the strong end and imo matches best), and which are also *emergent*, plus are a super-set of merely individual or small group weakly coordinated emotive expression (per your examples above).

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@Joshua

P.S. all the examples of emotive expression by skeptics you quote would fall somewhere in cases b) or c). Even if they were much stronger still, these would not impact the hypotheses. *If* the hypothesis that there is a climate culture based on a narrative of calamity, is true, then the climate calamity is just a cultural story, no matter whether there was nuclear strength emotive messaging, or no such messaging at all. This is why it is important to concentrate on whether the climate consensus is based upon culture, i.e. on social mechanisms not upon science, without reference to skeptic opinion, which can't make any difference.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

aahhh... '...nuclear strength skeptic emotive messaging...'

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Dan, Eli thanks you for an excellent example of motivated reasoning.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

I sure as hell wouldn't have wished this piling on on Dan when I wrote my comment.

Here is a short video about "thought germs" from Susan Blackmore's web site.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE3j_RHkqJc

Very relevant to science communication, I believe, and only 7 minutes long.

And here, especially for Andy, is Susan Blackmore's "Thought for the Day" -- apparently her only thought for the day if the url is any indication: http://www.susanblackmore.co.uk/Media/TFTD.htm

I've been reading your magnum opus which quotes here frequently (actually listened with Kindle's Text to speech; did the 'Truth' story too - nicely written but I think distopian futurology is a horrible and pernicious meme). Blackmore is perhaps she is the #1 person in the world keeping the idea of memetics going? Have you showed your work to her? She clearly wasn't getting it, at least in 2007. You are a very smart industrious person, but a lunatic in some ways. I say this with some affection as my wife is also. She was the Chairperson of the 1983(sic - I guess they wanted to get a head start) Libertarian Presidential nominating convention (her picture is at the front of the brochure), and loves the Tea Party, NRA, and Ted Cruz, and might buy your theory about the "CAGW memeplex". We have a project to learn to talk with eachother about serious world matters. Please wish us well.

W.r.t the PDF paper somewhere on an archive web site of Dr. Curry's (not the main site), with the robot from Mars, etc., there are I believe better explanations for why people say they take an issue, even one fraught with calamity, seriously, yet place them way down on the list of things that call for immediate action. One is the plain old boring "Availability fallacy -- thoughts of terrorist bombings and many other things just come to mind easily while [C]AGW, though they're willing to believe in it because of the scientific consensus (which I think is the most sensible reason for believing in it, not just one of the various arguments for it -- just as it is the sensible reason for believing in plate tectonics -- not the fit of South America and Africa's coastline), but they put it way down on this list of things calling for action (by them or by government) -- it is just so abstract, and mostly far in the future.

Ask people if they are afraid of death by cancer. Then (or preferably before they are primed by thatquestion, ask them to rate funding for cancer research with a slew of other concerns like terrorism, Muslim immigrants taking over Europe, Mexicans taking over America, or even the economy these days. Will this prove that the Cancer Research community is a purely "cultural entity"? Your argument would have some merit if you had a survey of climate scientists saying they don't actually want to do anything about global warming, but you apply your reasoning to one group and draw conclusions about a very different group.

While I take memes and memeplexes to have great potential as an analytic tool (which is rather unfashionable these days -- the fashion for memetics came in 3 waves AFAICT -- when Dawkins mentioned it; late in the 20c when Blackmore wrote her book, and about a decade ago, as an adjunct to the new, somewhat justified alarmism about (esp. Abrahamic) religions -- you say memeplexes aren't sentient, but you keep talking as if they were -- capable of quite strategic thinking in fact. Now, the US's movement conservatism can more justly be considered sentient. Those 2 or 3 highly secretive (they're resorted to surrounding the meeting facility with white noise generators facing outward) Koch donor/doer conferences, where all sorts of implicit (never quite spelled out, deniable) agreements are made "I'll support your campaign, and tell me again what you're going to be doing in Congress next year" have some plausibility as a something roughly coincident with a memeplex "thinking".

This is partly to let Dan know he's not the only person I will take to task when I get the notion to.

I have more to say to him, but promised to get back in bed with my wife and am way overdue.

February 21, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

@Hal

Yes I know about Susan Blackmore. Her stuff on gene / meme co-evolution is pretty good (I quote her on this), but she tends to over-simplify and dramatize too imho. For instance her heavy emphasis on imitation only at the cost of all other means for meme propagation, just doesn't make sense to me (or quite a few others). She's one voice in a range, quite well known in the UK I guess. I'm not sure how one ranks contributors, and memetics (or indeed all of cultural evolution, of which it is a sub-discipline) is hardly high profile anyhow, but I'd be very surprised by your ranking. She does have lots of energy for the topic and some press profile; I guess it is good for the general concept to be heard despite quibbles :) Her house in the UK was flooded a few years back at the time folks were blaming global warming; I think this has closed off the option of her seeing what's happening in the social side of the climate domain as a memeplex.

>>'...Your argument would have some merit if you had a survey of climate scientists saying they don't actually want to do anything about global warming...'

This is the opposite of what's expected. Which is that a majority of climate scientists will be emotively biased towards the certainty of climate calamity, and strongly advocate for action (they are mostly inside the memeplex, not outside it). See:
http://judithcurry.com/2015/04/24/contradiction-on-emotional-bias-in-the-climate-domain/

It is the case that there's a sizeable chunk of the *public* allied to CAGW for reasons of cultural identity (In the US, mostly Lib / Dems), who when push comes to shove won't really want to do anything about it. This is good support for the theory; strong cultures often create a 'convenient alliance' band around them. This effect shows in very many public surveys, see Fig 6 inside below to see this effect in a cultural map:
https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/who-is-who-aux-file.docx

>>'You are a very smart industrious person, but a lunatic in some ways.'

A lunatic? However said, this is way out there. Hardly promotes proper exchange, or credibility for any of your opinions. Don't think I really want to engage more.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@Joshua--

I saw your tweet but didn't realize that the "scale effect" was yours....

Yes, it's mine. It's based on the actual wording of the item & response scale, which I excavated from the appendix of the paper and the information reported in table 1.

The y-axis prominently featured in the paper truncates the 7-point response scale to 0.3 points. That is, & is universally understood to be, a deceptive way to report empirical data.

struggling how. they get that they get to a substantial" effect.....from a 5% increase towards "Global warming is mostly due to human activities" with a controlled experiment?

I'd say I'm struggling to see how you discerned a "5% increase" except clearly that's not *your* fault... It's the authors', for deceptively reporting what they measured.

As in the original study the researchers are not reporting any change in what fraction of the sample "believes in" human-caused climate change.

The item in question asks the subjects to characterize an ill-definied quantity of belief in something that the subjects are instructed to "assume ... IS happening." (At least it was not so hard to figure out the discrepancy between the item wording and the characterization this time as it was in the previously published study they are replicating here.)


Let me break down why the authors' repeated characterization of this finding as evidence that "97%" "increases belief" in AGW is deceptive.

1. When ordinary people ordinarily discuss "belief in" human caused climate change, they mean, consistent with ordinary language, a state that has 2 values -- positive or negative: either one believes or one doesn't that "human activity is causing global warming."

Approximately 50% of the U.S. population-- and about 25% of "Republicans" -- say they "believe" that human activity has caused global warming in "recent decades."

The obvious thing to measure if one wants to show that "97% msg" "increases" belief in AGW is whether it changes the proportion of study subjects who say that -- particularly conservative ones. That's what any normal reader would think the authors *have* measured from the language with which they describe their results (here & in their previously studied paper).

But the researchers don't report that "97% consensus" messaging increased the proportion who say they "believe" in human-caused climate change, either in the population generally or among Republicans.

They don't report anything on what percent of their sample say they believed in global warming, human caused or otherwise, "before" or "after" the "msg."

You can ask them if they in fact collected that data-- in this study or multiple previous ones involving US subjects -- & what those data showed.

2. Because it instructs the subjects to "assume human caused global warming IS happening...," the item for which the researchers do report results is aggregating responses of study subjects who don't believe in human caused climate change with those who do.

It's like saying, "Assuming angels EXIST, how many would you now say fit on the head of a pin?"

It's -- understandably! -- hard for readers to get that even when it is pointed out to them.

But far from acknowledging & explaining this, the researchers repeatedly use language that would lead any normal person to think that they found that people who previously said they "disbelieved" in human-caused climate change switched their view -- something they don't report any results on...

That's deception, every bit as much as their microscipic y-axis is.

3. The 0.24 change in mean on the 7-point measure in question is not practically different from zero. If you drew two overlapping probability density distributions for the values here -- one for the before &one for the after -- you'd see that they two are nearly perfectly overlapping.

It is "statistically significant"-- b/c any difference would be with N = 6000.

There's no reason simply to survey 6000 people except to be able to report that a result that is arbitrarily close to zero is "different from zero, p < 0.05." (Again, ask the researchers what they found in previous studies when looking for "significant" changes in belief.)

BTW, can you tell what the "control" group was? I'm sure not, unless you spent an hour trying to make sense of the paper. It turns out even people who weren't messaged increased their estimate of the percentage of climate scientists who accept AGW to a "statistically significant" degree when asked twice....

Your "5%" is-- I'm guessing -- 0.24/4.5. That's not a meaningful thing to do here, b/c the scores of 6000 (or 1000 or 100) subjects on 7 point likert measure will not be distributed uniformly across the scale. If you want to figure out a meaningful way to compare the differences in how scores in the "before" & "after" relate to each other, you need to compare the area under the probability density distributions I referred to.

A straightforward way to figure out effect size would be to calculate what pct of the *variance* in the subjects' responses on the 7-point scale is explained by the experimental treatment (the "msg"). Try to do that; be prepared to calculate a number with many 0's after the decimal point.

4. I myself would say "who cares" given the genuine meaningeless of what they are measuring, but if the authors wanted to help anyone understand the experimental effect, they'd show the raw data, not the mean change. It's perfectly conceivable that the tiny increment of change occurred as a result of shifts in the responses of subjects who were already "above the mean" in the scale...

But seriously, who cares?

This is not science communication. It is non-science communication.

This is not a study of "messaging." It is "messaging" presented as a study.

It's something that genuine scholars honestly trying to help people understand how the world works & make consequential decisions within it wouldn't do. And the authors here have done it twice in the last 12 mos.


February 22, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

From the perspective of someone who is not an expert at this, what I see is someone publishing a paper that might present evidence that contradicts your (Dan's) cultural cognition idea. You (Dan) accuse them of being intentionally misleading and suggest that they're not genuine scholars. Maybe your field is different to mine, but such accusations are not what I'd expect from a genuine scholar.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

My previous comment made me go and have another look at the paper, in case I was being a bit too judgemental. Maybe it is just obviously poor. Unless I'm missing something, what I found is that this from Dan, is not correct


Because it instructs the subjects to "assume human caused global warming IS happening..

What the paper actually says is

"Assuming global warming IS happening: How much of it do you believe is caused by human activities, natural changes in the environment, or some combination of both?” 1 (I believe that global warming is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment), 4 (I believe that global warming is caused equally by natural changes and human activities) to 7 (I believe that global warming is caused mostly by human activities).

which is not instructing the subjects to assume that human caused global warming IS happening. It's instructing them to assume that global warming IS happening. It also follows from a question that says

“How strongly do you believe that global warming is or is not happening?” 1 (I strongly believe that global warming is not happening), 4 (I am unsure whether or not global warming is happening) to 7 (I strongly believe global warming IS happening).

I'm no expert at survey design, but this seems to be trying to establish how much belief there is in global warming, followed by a question that is intended to determine what fraction of the warming is human-caused. The latter question might have been better if it has said "if you belief global warming is happening" but that doesn't seem to qualify as misleading.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Wow. The quibble Anders raises just above is incredibly silly. He complains Dan Kahan said this study instructed subjects to assume human caused global warming was happening when the prompt only explicitly said to assume global warming was happening. Leaving aside any issues about how people would have actually interpreted this, it's clear Anders's quibble is bizarre as the options for answers (which he quotes) range from:

1 (I believe that global warming is caused mostly by natural changes in the environment), 4 (I believe that global warming is caused equally by natural changes and human activities) to 7 (I believe that global warming is caused mostly by human activities).

Of course, there's no option for a person to say they don't believe human-induced global warming is happening. The subjects couldn't say they believed global warming (if it is happening) isn't caused by humans at all. All they could say is it isn't mostly caused by humans. That means no matter what response they chose, they would have had to say they believe humans are causing some amount of global warming.

So while the prompt doesn't explicitly tell the subjects to assume human-induced global warming is happening, the answers it provides forces them to make that exact assumption.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Also, it should be noted Dan Kahan's point hold just as well whether the study instructed subjects to assume global warming is happening as if it instructed them to assume human-induced global warming is happening, because in either event, it requires people answer a question about what their beliefs would be in a scenario that doesn't exist.

So really, the distinction Anders draws is pointless to Kahan's argument anyway.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBrandon Shollenberger

Andy West: "A lunatic? However said, this is way out there. Hardly promotes proper exchange, or credibility for any of your opinions. Don't think I really want to engage more."

I'm truly sorry if that really got to you. My occupation, and my intellectual search has been super-isolating for the last dozen or so years, so perhaps I've forgotten how to have table manners.

Also, what with all of that and an extreme sense of urgency, and disconnection with academia, I constantly get in places where the world seems to be telling me I'm a lunatic or crackpot. <B>Plus</B> my preoccupation is with how it can be that people, including quite intelligent ones, can have such divergent views of reality that if some two of us really exchanged views, we might at least start off each thinking the other is "mental" as the Brits say.

I suggest you consider the effect you have telling me and a large fraction of the human race that we've ceded our critical thinking to this pernicious memeplex you've spent so much time describing.

Perhaps we are all blind to our own sort of harshness: you, me, Dan, other participants in the above exchange, Judith Curry, Mann, Oreskes. We might tend to think something like "You say I'm helping dangerous maybe evil ideas take over the world? But I'm devoting my whole life to stopping the world conquest by dangerous ideas".

Maybe we all need (and I'm pretty serious about this as I am with most of my jokes) group therapy for world-savers. Something along the line of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQYd1ts08NU

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris


The quibble Anders raises just above is incredibly silly. He complains Dan Kahan said this study instructed subjects to assume human caused global warming was happening when the prompt only explicitly said to assume global warming was happening.

Wow, your pedantry is uni-directional. Who'd thunk it.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

@Hal

>>' I'm truly sorry...'

Ok. I think it better to stick to specific points, and leave the ruminations aside.

>>'...we've ceded our critical thinking to this pernicious memeplex...'

Ceded is not really right. Rather, the direction of our critical thinking is influenced, biased. And we are all subject to such cultural influences, sometimes several at once (per Michael Gazzaniga, our minds are 'social minds'). You and me, everyone else. So in truth no one is singled out. For example, pretty much the entire population of the planet was religious until recently; a large majority still are. This is neither illness, delusion, a ceding of critical thought, nor any other implied disability (which I point out in the material you were reading). It is merely, being social.

And despite the fact that some memeplexes can be net negative (sometimes very seriously, or at least start this way then become more benign), which seems to be the case for CAGW, overall these cultural entities have been a huge evolutionary advantage. That's why we participate in them so easily still. The socially enforced consensuses they set up, provide for common action in the face of the unknown.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West


Her (Blackmore's) house in the UK was flooded a few years back at the time folks were blaming global warming; I think this has closed off the option of her seeing what's happening in the social side of the climate domain as a memeplex.

That would make her sound like a nitwit, IMO, which I'm pretty sure is not true. I'd be curious to know who you've been following who makes a stronger case. You make these statements that seem to you innocuous, but sound as if you're coming from a much higher place than the rest of us. You do this casually and I take it you really don't mean to offend particularly.

And we are all subject to such cultural influences, sometimes several at once (per Michael Gazzaniga, our minds are 'social minds').

Yes, I totally agree, and have tried to follow scientists and scientifically minded philosophers who go in that direction including Dan Sperber and some of his associates at Institute Nicod, the Open-Mind collection of work organized by Thomas Metzinger, Michael Tomasello's books and papers of which "The ultra-social animal." Invited Horizon article for European Journal of Social Psychology (Can be found here along with many downloadable papers) is a nice summary, and come at it from linguistics, social epistemology, neurology (Dennett's main works), evolutionary theory...

I think, however, you take a set of pretty wispy concepts and produce a very heavy structure that they don't really support. We all partake to a more or less extent of dozens of more of less extensive culture-like tendencies. One shades into another so one can't really count them, but "dozens" seems reasonable. But I'm pretty certain there is no "inside the memeplex", though maybe you'd like to clarify what you mean by that.

The claim to critique a scientific discipline irrespective of domain knowledge seems very far-fetched to me, at least in the way you do it. You take a broad class of scientists whose training is to be skeptical, and nullify their work on no solid basis that I can discern.

Scientists know something about the quality of each other's work esp if in related fields.

My own involvement started with me getting a lot of pieces that would often claim to be the "last nail in the coffin of the AGW hoax. Some were totally off the wall, or mostly ranting and awful mischaracterisations of what those they disagree with are saying.

Usually, at best they seemed to be "demonstrating" too much with too little, and that is what I think you do.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris


Robert Perry has left a new comment on your post "Myths About Saul Alinsky (and Obama)":

i never read the book or books but i know many people who have and say that is true, snopes.com is owned by the gov and it usually comes up dirst as false to make pple believe cuz this website said it. well look at the owners and u will be amazed that its all a sham to make pple not look further .

Just something that showed up in my mailbox a day or 2 ago. A reminder that we have a big problem with truth and propaganda, and new patterns of meme-spreading, not just science communication.

February 22, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

@Hal

>>'That would make her sound like a nitwit.'

Anything but. You just agreed above that we are all subject to influence / bias. To understand what a memeplex is, does not provide protection from one. Blackmore is not religious and somewhere describes the features of Catholicism in memetic terms. But the meme that the certainty of climate calamity is just a matter of hard science, is a powerful one. Pretty much all the social science folks believe this, Blackmore does too; as a default at least why wouldn't they? Personally, I once believed that too. The unfortunate and no doubt traumatic flood incident will not have helped at all.

>>'But I'm pretty certain there is no "inside the memeplex", though maybe you'd like to clarify what you mean by that.'

Well let's use Blackmore's example above. So, same as inside / outside the Catholic church. Most people recognize that concept. And yes there are also some people on the boundary, so to speak. 'Convenient believers'. These folks are useful in detecting the source of cultural influence; their 'belief' changes depending on identity challenge. It's not as easy to recognize boundaries for a new culture that's pushed it's way onto the block, especially as culture uses stalking horses to disguise itself, in the case of climate culture, the label of 'science'..

>>'...claim to be the "last nail in the coffin of the AGW hoax'

Yes, there's apparently an endless supply of nails. In the US at least, the hoax and liberal conspiracy stories are usually driven by right wing political culture. Climate culture has a strong alliance with Lib / Dems, so some Rep / Cons flak is triggered back. While pretty noticeable on domain blogs, public polls show it with very modest support.

"..and that is what I think you do."

It's fine to think that, though hardly any kind of substantial challenge. Yet if so, you should easily be able to present evidence that counters my theory or unravels my own evidential posts. Try starting with one I made as simple as I could. Shows in 3 steps that Creationism is a culture, and with *the same* 3 steps that CAGW is a culture, both without domain knowledge (climate or evolution knowledge). If you don't like the steps for the latter, you have to say why they're wrong for the former.
https://curryja.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/who-is-who-aux-file.docx

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

@All:

It's simple: ask people not exposed & exposed to msg if they believe in AGW (between subjects) or people before & after msg (within subjects).

It's what Lewandowsky did w/ his Australian convenience sample I don't think *his* Nature Climate Change study was miselading, deceptive, unhelpful; his results should be assessed for their probative value (there are reasons I would offer you to discount the weight of them but they are simply legitimate things for reflective people to consider; there was nothing misleading about the reporting of the study results) & added to the stockpile of evidence to be weighed here.

So give me a prediction: what is the probability a conservative repoublican who doesn't believe in global warming says that he believes in AGW after AAAS msg?

100%
50%
25%
0.5%
0%

What?

It's so simple that no one who wanted to know the answer would do this study w/o collecting this data. No one who had these data & wanted others to be able to assess the results would fail to report them, much less report the convoluted "level" of belief coniditoned on a "counterfactual" that have been featured in this particular group of individuals' studies.

So ask the authors what they found, either in this study or numerous others (including ones that didn't resort to N = 6000!), when they collected this data.

Tell them, too, to stop characterizing the data they are reporting in a manner that would mislead reasonable, intelligent people -- such as all of you; for days you've discussed this (months even) without getting that they didn't report any results on this simple question!

And of course ask them why a real-world $300 million social marketing campaign that featured the 97% msg didn't work, which is the *external validity* test for this hypothesis (we are discussing "internal validity" only of these experiments).

The question is what to do. Real science can help us make progress toward an asnwer. Non-science distracts, wastes resources, and aggravates dynamics that make this problem so wicked..

Last point: being deceptive in reporting research results speaks to scholarly character. Being *infuriated* -- or not-- at *anyone* who engages in such behavior *for any purpose* does too.

February 23, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan,
What about the point that they did NOT instruct the survey participants to believe what you claimed they had? Sorry, but if you're going to go around claiming that others are being misleading, then it's hard to take your concerns seriously if you appear to have misrepresented what they did.

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Dan K says:

So give me a prediction: what is the probability a conservative republican who doesn't believe in global warming says that he believes in AGW after AAAS msg?

And again misses the point which is that consensus messaging shifts the Overton window for everyone, which is the point of consensus messaging and the fantasy camp message that there is a significant number of those who study climate and closely related matters that oppose the consensus.

So the real question is what is the probability that a conservative republican who doesn't believe in global warming would loudly say that in an audience that does accept the scientific consensus on global warming?

Planck was more right than you know.

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterEli Rabett

Proposition: If the implication of belief A is "We don't need to do anything", but belief B implies "Strenuous action is needed", then saying one believes A will almost perfectly correlate with the action implied by A, but saying one believes B will correlate only weakly.

CAGW fits this profile, while OTOH there are pro-action implications to both sides of gun control/decontrol. Evolution has very little to do with action in most peoples' minds. HIV denial is the closest thing I can think of in fitting this profile.

A major success of AGW "doubters" (let's try this on for size) has been to catastrophise the consequences of limiting CO2 emissions - mostly economic, but also in "power grab" terms, linking it to the UN becoming a tyrannical world government, bird holocausts, etc.

One might argue the consequences of going on in the same direction (this is different from "maintaining the status quo") include much more widespread fracking, more blowing tops off mountains, continuing to enrich and give inordinate power to nations such as USSR, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela that happen to be sitting on major oil deposits, and a very uncomfortable tying together of the affairs of such nations with ours and the West's generally.

In all the negative messaging, far too little is being said about actual progress nations are making towards low CO2 production, the potential of solar energy (for decades it was promoted while remaining inefficient; while at present the revolution in smart materials is bringing about breakthroughs that might surpass all predictions. Also, we got tired of and tuned out past euphoria that total solar energy hitting the earth dwarfs the potential of fossil fuels ... but it is becoming less euphoria and closer to a real potential).

Also, counter "power grabbing" "one-worlding" memes with the very foreseeable likelihood of renewable energy meaning most nations find their energy within their own borders which should mean, in fact, less dependency between nations, and even devolution of power from central, often bad actors (esp. in Africa - a clear huge beneficiary if solar energy can be realized) to the village level where normal economic life is more likely to prevail and become a counterweight to the old power structures.

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

We've got negative messaging, negative messaging about negative messaging, and now negative messaging about negative messaging about negative messaging, and it's leading us around in a tight little circle and it's time to break out.

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterHal Morris

Dan -


So give me a prediction: what is the probability a conservative repoublican who doesn't believe in global warming says that he believes in AGW after AAAS msg?

100%
50%
25%
0.5%
0%

What?

But I asked you first.

I've been asking you for months a related question: Measure the probability of a conservative Republican who isn't already locked into an identity-related belief about climate change (how many of them are out there, anyway?) has become materially/significantly more polarized as the result of either (1) "consensus-messaging" with easily identified partisan overtones or someone just telling him/her that there is a strong prevalence of shared opinion among experts in climate science that continued aCO2 emissions post a risk of harmful climate change.

What about for someone else who isn't a conservative Republican, but who isn't already locked into an identity-oriented belief about climate change (how many of them are there?)

I've been trying to get you to answer that question and/or provide evidence that convincingly gives insight into that question, for months now. As near as I can tell, you haven't answered the question.

Instead, you have pointed to the existing, relatively large % of the public that expresses "skepticism" about climate change despite the existence of "consensus-messaging." Well, that doesn't cut it as an answer, IMO.

You have also pointed to your data that asking about whether there is a "consensus" produces a more polarized response, in association with ideological orientation, than simply asking questions about what "scientists believe." Well, that doesn't cut it either, IMO.

You have evidence that might be suggestive of an answer, but I would say that based on what we know about motivated reasoning and the polarization related to climate change, there are strong reasons to doubt your conclusion - that in the real world, "consensus-messaging" has has a real and measurable impact, or even would have a real and measurable impact - because, IMO, the number of people who would be affect in the manner that you speculate, is insignificantly small.

And yet, you assert, with strong certainty, that "consensus-messaging" in both a more general sense and in a specific sense (pointing to specific messaging efforts) materially increases the toxic environment related to climate change.

As near as I can tell, you are going from speculation to make an assertion, without having the evidence needed to make that assertion.

So I say that before answering your question, you should answer mine.

To quote my nephews from when they were about 8 years old....I asked you first!

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan -

And of course ask them why a real-world $300 million social marketing campaign that featured the 97% msg didn't work, which is the *external validity* test for this hypothesis (we are discussing "internal validity" only of these experiments).

You repeatedly make that point without addressing the larger, related context. The fact that a certain % of people remain "skeptical" about climate change proves neither that; (1) "consensus-messaging" hasn't had a different effect of increasing the number of people who are concerned about climate change (e.g., had a counter-balancing effect against lobbying in the other direction) and/or (2) materially increases the toxicity around the issue of climate change (i.e., that most people who aren't already identified with a belief in line with their ideological orientation just respond with a "meh," and people who are already identified on the issue on climate change just use "consensus" as one bit of myriad factors in formulating their beliefs - in other words, the real-world, differential effect in increasing the toxicity is insignificant and would be for all intents and purposes pretty much the same w/o "consensus-messaging.")


The question is what to do. Real science can help us make progress toward an asnwer. Non-science distracts, wastes resources,...

I tend to agree that there is opportunity cost

...and aggravates dynamics that make this problem so wicked..</blockquote

Despite you saying this over and over, I continue to believe that you haven't provided convincing evidence of such.

February 23, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>