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

« Weekend update: modeling the impact of the "according to climate scientists prefix" on identity-expressive vs. science-knowledge revealing responses to climate science literacy items | Main | "America's two climate changes ..." & how science communicators should/shouldn't address them ... today in Burlington, VT »
Thursday
Mar242016

Toggling the switch between cognitive engagement with "America's two climate changes"--not so hard in *the lab*

So I had a blast last night talking about “America’s 2 climate changes” at the 14 Annual “Climate Predication Applications Workshop,” hosted by NOAA’s National Weather Service Climate Services Branch, in Burlington Vermont (slides here).

It’s really great when after a 45-minute talk (delivered in a record-breaking 75 mins) a science-communication professional stands up & crystallizes your remarks in a 15-second summary that makes even you form a clearer view of what you are trying to say! Thanks, David Herring!

In sum, the “2 climate changes” thesis is that there are two ways in which people engage information about climate change in America: to express who they are as members of groups for whom opposing positions on the issue are badges of membership in one or another competing cultural group; and to make sense of scientific information that is relevant to doing things of practical importantance—from being a successful farmer to protecting their communities from threats to vital natural resources to exploiting distinctive commercial opportunities—that are affected by how climate is changing as a result of the influence of humans on the environment.

I went through various sorts of evidence—including what Kentucky Farmer has to say about “believing in climate change” when he is in his living room versus when he is on his tractor.

Also the inspired leadership in Southeast Florida, which has managed to ban conversation of the “climate change” that puts the question “who are you, whose side are you on?” in order to enable conversation of the “climate change” which asks “what do we know, what should we do?”

But I also featured some experimental data that helped to show how one can elicit one or the other climate change in ordinary study respondents.

The data came from the study (mentioned a few times in previous entries) that CCP and the Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted to refine the Ordinary Climate Science Intelligence assessment (“OSI_1.0”).  

OSI_1.0 used a trick from the study of public comprehension of evolutionary science to “unconfound” the measurement of “knowledge” and “identity.” 

It’s well established that there is no correlation between the answer survey respondents give to questions about their belief in (acceptance of) human evolution and what they understand about science in general or evolutionary science in particular. No matter how much or little individuals understand about science’s account of the natural history of human beings, those who have a cultural identity that features religiosity answer “false” to the statement “human beings evolved from an earlier species of animals,” and those who have a cultural identity that doesn’t  say “true.”  

But things change when one adds the  prefix “according to the theory of evolution” to the standard true-false survey item:

At that point, religious individuals who manifest their identity-expressive disbelief in evolution by answering “false” can now reveal they are in fact familiar with science’s account of the natural history of human beings (even if they, like the vast majority of those who answer “true” with or without the prefix, couldn’t pass a high school biology exam that tested their comprehension of the modern synthesis).

What people say they “believe” about climate change (at least if they are members of the general public in the US) is likewise an expression of who they are, not what they know.

That is, responses to recognizable climate-change survey items—“is it happening,” “are humans causing it,” “are we all going to die,” “what’s the risk on a scale of 0-10,” etc.— are all simply indicators of a latent cultural disposition. The disposition is easily enough measured with right-left political orientation measures, but cultural worldviews are even better and no doubt plenty of other things (even religiosity) work too.

There isn’t any general correlation—positive or negative—between how much people know either about science in general or about climate-science in particular and their “belief” in human-caused climate change.

Click me ... or Donald Trump will become President!But there is an interaction between their capacity for making sense of science and their cultural predispositions.  The greater a person’s proficiency in one or another science-related reasoning capacity (cognitive reflection, numeracy, etc.) the stronger the relationship between their cultural identity (“who they are”) and what they say they “believe” etc. about human-caused climate change.

Why? Presumably because people can be expected to avail themselves of all their mental acuity to form beliefs that reliably convey their membership in and commitment to the communities they depend on most for psychic and material support.

But if one wants to “unconfounded” identity-expressive from knowledge-evincing responses on climate change, one can use the same trick that one uses to accomplish this objective in measuring comprehension of evolutionary science.   OSI_1.0 added the clause “climate scientists believe” to its batery of true-false items on the causes and consequences of human-caused climate change. And lo and behold, individuals of opposing political orientations—and hence opposing “beliefs” about human-caused climate change—turned out to have essentially the equivalent understandings of what “climate science” knows.

Click me ... and Bernie will become President!In general, their understandings turned out to be abysmal: the vast majority of subjects—regardless of their political outlooks or beliefs on climate change—indicated that “climate scientists believe” that  human CO2 emissions stifle photosynthesis, that global warming will cause skin cancer, etc. 

Only individuals at the very highest levels of science comprehension (as measured by the Ordinary Science Intelligence assessment) consistently distinguished genuine from bogus assertions about the causes and consequences of climate change. Their responses were likewise free of the polarization--even though they are the people in whom there is the greatest political division on “belief in” human-caused climate change.

Interesting!

But in collecting data for OSI_2.0, we decided to measure exactly how much of an impact it makes in response to use the identity-knowledge “scientists believe” unconfounding device.

The impact is huge!

Here are a couple of examples of just how much a difference it makes:

Subjects of opposing political outlooks—and hence opposing “beliefs” about human-caused climate change--don't disagree about whether “human-caused global warming will result in flooding of many coastal regions” or whether “nuclear power generation contributes to global warming” when those true-false statements are introduced with the prefix “according to climate scientists” (obviously, the "nuclear" item is a lot harder--that is, people on average, regardless of political outlook, are about as likely to get it wrong as right; "flooding" is a piece of cake).

But when the prefix is removed, subjects of opposing outlooks answer the questions in an (incorrect) manner that evinces their identity-expressive views.  

That prefix is all it takes to toggle the switch between an “identity-expressive” and a “science-knowledge-evincing” orientation toward the items.

All it takes to show that for ordinary members of the public there are two climate changes: one on which their beliefs express “who they are” as members of opposing cultural groups; and another on which their beliefs reflect “what they know” as people who use their reason to acquire their (imperfect in many cases) comprehension of what science knows about the impact of human behavior on climate change.

Now what’s really cool about this pairing is the opposing identity-knowledge "valencess" of the items. The one on flooding shows how the “according to climate scientists" prefix unconfounds climate-science knowledge from a mistaken identity-expressive “belief” characteristic of a climate-skeptical cultural style.  The item on nuclear power, in contrast, uncounfounds  climate-science knowledge from a mistaken identity-expressive “belief” characteristic of a climate-concerned  style.

I like this because it answers the objection—one some people reasonably raised—that adding the “scientists believe” clause to OSI_1.0 items didn't truly elicit climate-science knowledge in right-leaning subjects.  The right-leaning subjects, the argument went, were attributing to climate scientists views that right-leaning subjects themselves think are contrary to scientific evidence but that they think climate scientists espouse becasuse climate scientists are so deceitful, misinformed etc.

I can certainly see why people might offer this explanation.

But it seems odd to me to think that right-leaning subjects would in that case make the same mistakes about climate scientists' positions (e.g., that global warming will cause skin cancer, and stifle photosynthesis) that left-leaning ones would; and even more strange that only right-leaning subjects of low to modest science comprehension would impute to climate scientists these comically misguided overstatements of risk, insofar as high science-comprehending, right-leaning subjects are the most climate skeptical & thus presumably most distrustful of "climate scientists."

Well, these data are even harder to square with this alternative account of why OSI_1.0 avoided eliciting politically polarized responses.

One could still say "well, conservatives just think climate scientsts are full of shit," of course, in response to the effect of removing the prefix for the “flooding” item.

But on the “nuclear power causes climate change” item, left-leaning subjects were the ones whose responses shifted strongly in the identity-expressive direction when the “according to climate scientists prefix” was removed.  Surely we aren’t supposed to think that left-leaning, climate-concerned subjects find climate scientists untrustworthy, corrupt etc. , too! 

The more plausible inference is that the “according to science prefix” does exactly what it is supposed to: unconfound climate-science knowledge and cultural identity, for everyone.

Thus, if one is culturally predisposed to give climate-skeptical answers to express identity, the prefix stifles incorrect "climate science comprehension" responses that evince climate skepticism—e.g., that climate change will cause flooding.

If one is culturally predisposed to give climate-concerned responses, in contrast, then the prefix stifles what would be the identity-expressive inclination to express incorrect beliefs about the contribution of human activities to climate change—e.g., that nuclear power is warming the planet.

The prefix turns everyone from who he or she is when processing information for identity protection into the person he or she is when induced to reveal whatever "science knowledge" he or she has acquired.

This inference is reinforced by considering how these responses interact with science comprehension. 

As can be seen, for the "prefix" versions of the items, individuals of both left- and right-leaning orientations are progressively more likely to give correct "climate science comprehension" answers as their OSI scores increase.  This makes a big difference on the “nuclear power” item, because it’s a lot harder than the “flooding” one.

Nevertheless, when the “prefix” is removed, those who are high in science comprehension (right-leaning or left-) are the most likely to get the wrong answer when the wrong answer is identity-expressive! 

That’s exactly what one would expect if the prefix were functioning to suppress an identity-expressive response, since those high in OSI are the most likely to form identity-expressive beliefs as a result of motivated reasoning.

Suppressing such a response, of course, is what the “according to scientists” clause is supposed to do as an identity/science-knowledge unconfounding device.

This result is exactly the opposite of what one would expect to see, though, under the alternative, “just measuring conservative distrust of/disagreement with climate scientists” explanation of the effect of the prefix: the subjects who such an explanation implies ought to be most likely to attribute an absurdly mistaken "climate concerned" position to climate scientists--the right-leaning subjects highest in science comprehension--were in fact the least likely to do so.

But it was definitely very informative to look more closely at this issue.

Indeed, how readily one can modify the nature of the information processing that subjects are engaging in—how easily one can switch off identity-expression and turn on knowledge-revealing—is pretty damn amazing.

Of course, this was done in the lab.  The million dollar question is how to do it in the political world so that we can rid our society once and for all of illiberal, degrading, welfare-annihilating consequences of the first climate change. . . .

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments (59)

Surely we aren’t supposed to think that left-leaning, climate-nonskeptical subjects find climate scientists untrustworthy, corrupt etc. , too!

Your modus tollens is my modus ponens. I think that's exactly what the left-leaners are doing here.

An expert is just someone credentialed whom you agree with. As soon as they stop agreeing with you, they stop being trustworthy experts.

Why did you see fit to break the partisan symmetry here to claim that the use of the prefix unconfounds identity and knowledge for everyone? To me the clear and simple conclusion is that the use of the prefix accurately measures knowledge of others' positions, but unconfounds knowledge with own-belief for no-one.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

Isn't one possible explanation just that adding the prefix highlights the fact that it's just some scientists' opinion?

In other words, people are fine admitting that some scientists think something is the case - as long as the question wording makes clear that that opinion doesn't necessarily correspond to actual fact.

When you ask people what is factually true (i.e. the no-prefix question), rather than asking them what scientists believe to be true (the prefix question), the ideological divisions come out.

Where is the evidence that people ever prioritize what scientists believe to be true (i.e. prefix question) over what they themselves perceive to be true (the no-prefix question), when the two conflict? Why would the former ever be a bigger influence on behavior?

My suspicion is that the reason you see less polarization on the "second" climate change is because it doesn't actually measure what people believe to be factually true about the world. What is the empirical evidence against this? (Genuine question)

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

@dypoon--

Do you the most highly science proficient left-leaning subjects who answer the "nuclear" question, w/ or w/o the prefix, have a dialog going on in their head that goes, "well, I know *climate scientists* think nuclear power doesnt' cause global warming, but I disagree..."?

March 24, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Nealstenhouse

My *sense* as a normal person person who speaks English would be that if I said, "According to scientists, cigarettes do *not* cause cancer," people would undestand me to be saying that that's the predominant view among scientists, not just that there's some tiny minority who have this position. That is, they would be telling me what they know about the the state of existing scientific evidence on the issue--not whether they think one could find a scientist who holds the view regardless of whether it is consistent with the best available evidence.

But as a person doing empirical research, I want to *test* whether subjects understand a true-false assessment as I intend-- that is, I want to know what I'm measuring.

One way to *test* my view that people understand the proposition "According to scientists, cigarettes do *not* cause cancer" as meaning that that is the considxered view of expert scientists is to see what test subjects' answers look like.

If in fact the subjects understood the question the way you are suggesting, then I'd expect the vast majority to answer "true" to my cigarette-cancer question -- b/c pretty much everyone is aware that there are "some" scientists who hold this view, even htough they they are in a very very very tiny minority.

If subjects understand the item my way, I'd expect the vast majority to say "false."

If the subjects understood the question as you are hypothesizing, though, then I'd definitely expect the proportion of subjects who answer "true" to increase as science comprehension increases. If they understand the item as I do, then I'd expect "false" to go up as science comprehension goes up.


If the asnwer is not understood clearly across subjects -- that's a pretty common thing as you know-- I'd expect the correlation between the answer & science comprehension to be very very low. I also expect answers to this item & answers to other science-literacy questions that I am confident are measuring what they are supposed to be low.

These are of course standard ways to validate standardized test items.

Applying them here, if "according to climate scientists" is understood by subjects as "according to *some* climate scientists," then I'd expect subjects to be converging, I guess, on "true" for every single item no matter how ridiculous it is; given that there is a large number of "climate scientists," presumably we could find a few crazy ones who think that global warming will cause skin cancer & kill plants, also "some" who think nuclear power increases warming and some who think putting restrictions on "industrial sulfur emissions" will help. Also I'd expect the convergence on "true" to be increasing for all such items as OSI increases.

On my inerpretation -- that "According to climate scientists" is understood as "the weight of scientific opinion among climate scientists" -- I'd expect a high proportion of "true" for relatively basic propositions -- like "human-caused global warming will result in flooding of many coastal regions." I'd also expect a lower proportion of correct responses-- true or false-- for items that reflect a more sophisticated understanding of climate science such as "the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide associated with the burning of fossil fuels will reduce photosynthesis by plants" or "nuclear power generation contributes to global warming..."

But I'd expect those highest in science comprehension to be converging on the *correct* answers on those items--in relation to what the weight of the scientific evidence is -- regardless of whether the correct answer is "true" or "false."

The pattern of responses reflects the one one would expect on my view of how subjects understand the item, not yours.

B/c the probability of "correct" responses to OCSI items cohere w/ each other and with other items that people understand well, & b/c it correlates positively w/ science comprehension and reasoning proficiency measures, I believe people --regardless of ideology-- are answering them in the way I am suggesting: in a manner that indicates their understanding of the state of scientific evidence on climate.

They are answering them, in other words, in the way they would if they were doing their best on a standardized AP exam, for which all but the most scientifically literate are ill prepared.

Do the subjects *agree* with what they think climate scientists believe? Not necessarily. When the item uses the prefix, they are telling us what they think *science* knows, the same way the religious person who answers the evolution question "true" does when the prefix is added. If that same person is, say, a Pakistani Dr, then she likely "believes" the answer "at work" but not "at home." Similarly if the OCSI subject is a farmer, then he or she likely "believes" what climate scientists say when driving his or her tractor but not when sitting on his or her armchair in front of the tv, which is tuned of course to Fox News.

At this point, I view the question "but what do people *really* believe" as ill-formed. Beliefs are what people *do* with them. ONe thing they can do is *be* who they are; another is engage in some activity -- being a parent making decisions about the health of their kids, practicing some profession, enjoying a science documentary, earning money-- that requres using science's understanding of how the world works.

March 24, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I don't think they're the most science-proficient subjects, Dan. They're the ones who know some relevant scientific facts. In fact, if you look at the very right tail of OSI, where I would expect the most science-proficient subjects to be, you can see them valiantly dragging up the non-prefix correctness in both graphs.

I don't know what the rest of the above-average OSI people would say if in debate you consciously backed them into that corner and put those words in their mouth. My guess is, by and large, either you'd find people who would back off from that stance because it would involve them disagreeing with something, or you'd find people who would go full-throated crackpot and talk about how scientists and industry downplay the risks of technologies they like.

I don't think that people actually think when you ask them directly for their opinion, Dan. I think asking them what they think others would say does make them think for themselves, "Would they say this?", as people are by and large more careful and suspect of expressing others' thoughts than they are with their own. But when you ask them their own opinion on an issue, they will tell you how and what they feel from the facts they know.

By and large, the people of above average OSI are the ones who happen to know the right facts. But they still are still basing feelings on their worldview, which OSI doesn't measure. In my model of the world, people will unthinkingly choose responses consistent with that worldview when you ask them to express an opinion. That is what they really and unthinkingly believe.

So which would you rather believe: that there is a partisan difference and that you're measuring people's conscious thoughts when you ask them their opinion, or that there is no partisan difference and that you're measuring peoples' unthinking feelings when you ask them their opinion? I think the latter is a simpler explanation.

March 24, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

@Dypoon--

We are 70% of way to converging & I might go even more than 15% in your direction if we continue.

But it's hard for me to respond until we get clear what the Figures show.

Are you not seeing for both "flooding" & "nuclear" *w/prefix* that the slopes in these locally weighted regressions go up uniformly w/ OSI for indivieduals to "left" & "right" of mean on the political orientation scale? But then interacting -- so that its direction depends on whether someone is "left" or "right" -- iin the "non-prefix" version of the questions?

There are only a tiny number of observations at the far right hand of the distrtibution, obviously, but around 75% of those at 95th to 99th percentiles are getting the answer *wrong* if the non-prefix version is ideologically non-congenial. If you like, too, I can model the data so that we don't get distracted by the loess regression's emphatic resolve not to take a position on trend of the data.

BTW, OSI is not a "fact-inventory" measure of science comprehension. Those who score highest are necessarily correctly answering questions that measure inferential reasoning skills that are essential to making sense of data & that the vast majority of the population-- including even the near brain-dead ones who still know that electrons are smaller than atoms & the earth goes around the sun -- can't!

March 24, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I agree with your interpretation though. I *do* believe, as you say, that people interpret the prefix-questions as "the weight of scientific opinion". But I disagree that people who say "yes" to the prefix-questions and "no" to the non-prefix questions are engaging in "knowing disbelief".

There's no contradiction: they believe that the weight of scientific opinion supports global warming (for example), but they believe the weight of scientific opinion is inaccurate. Which is I think what you're saying in the second to last paragraph of your answer: "Do the subjects *agree* with what they think climate scientists believe? Not necessarily."

I don't agree that it doesn't matter what people "really" believe. But adopting your terminology - let's say that beliefs are what people do with them. Where is the evidence of people *doing* anything based on their "weight-of-scientific-opinion" beliefs, when their "actual-state-of-world" beliefs (i.e. those that are ideologically polarized) diverge from their "weight-of-scientific-opinion" beliefs?

I don't agree that the Kentucky farmers demonstrate this - they may be prepared to adapt to climate change, but adapting to climate change is 100% consistent with believing that human-caused global warming does not exist. They're not acting as if human-caused warming is real in their day-to-day lives - they're acting as if naturally-caused global warming might occur. For "knowing disbelief" to really be happening, you would need evidence that they were acting in response to human-caused global warming - e.g. expressing support for mitigation, or something else that makes no sense if there is no such thing as human-caused warming.

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

Neil -

==> Where is the evidence that people ever prioritize what scientists believe to be true (i.e. prefix question) over what they themselves perceive to be true (the no-prefix question), when the two conflict? Why would the former ever be a bigger influence on behavior?

There is a related question. On which issues is there conflict between what (non-expert) people believe to be true and what scientists believe to be true? In most cases, what scientists believe to be true [the former] is a dominant influence on behavior.

==> There's no contradiction: they believe that the weight of scientific opinion supports global warming (for example), but they believe the weight of scientific opinion is inaccurate.

I ratherhdoubt this. In my observations, it isn't that they doubt the weight of the evidence; instead they disagree with how scientists interpret the weight of the evidence (even though, in actually, they are totally lacking the skills and knowledge to interpret the evidence), and they selectively evaluate the qualifications of scientists' intepretation of the evidence by virtue of filtering the scientists' opinions through their ideologically-based "motivations."

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Neil -

Sorry about that 2nd part. In re-reading, I see it was even more incoherent than what I usually write.

==> There's no contradiction: they believe that the weight of scientific opinion supports global warming (for example), but they believe the weight of scientific opinion is inaccurate.

I got a bit confused by "weight of scientific opinion." Yes, although many (arguably) have a mistaken (underestimated) impression of the most predominant scientific opinion, many don't doubt that the predominant view among scientists is different than their own view. As such, yes, they think that the most prevalent scientific opinion is inaccurate.

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Neil--

Do you rejejct "cognitive dualism" in case of those who "disbelieve" in evolution & use evolutionary science for various purposes for which it is uniquely suited? Or is this just doubt that the phenomenon applies to farmers?

Let's see ... 28% of farmers in Tx, Missouri, NC Wisc say they believe "climate change is not scientifically proven"--period; forget "human caused-- when asked.
But majorities in various states, when asked, say they anticipate that farmers in their region to change crop rotation to deal w/ "climate change," to buy more crop insurance in response to "climate change," and in many cases go out of business b/c of ... "climate change."

They are so eager to use the science they know but don't believe that Monsanto has spent $1 billion to acquire an information-services company that sells climate-change science forecast data -- generated by climate scientists using "human caused climate change" models--that are tailored to region of individual farmer subscribers... [see slides] Nothing to explain? All makes perfect sense?

You are right that they aren't in favor of "mitigation"; but the vast majority of liberal democrats who say they "believe in climate change" think that "mitigation" means not having nuclear power plants & regulating sulfur emissions. If as you (appropriately!) propose we look at their "actions" to try to figure out what they "believe," we can see they are buying SUVs in record numbers to celebrate lower gas prices & ignoring the inaction of local, state & federal represenatives -- liberal democrat ones! -- in pushing for "mitigation" measures (there iz zero risk to any democrat for simply ignoring this issue, as Obama was advised to do in 2016 by his handlers).

How about SE Fla? Why are all the Republicans-- by same majority margin as rest of US -- who say they don't accept that the "temperature of the earth has been increasing in recent decades" (if one asks them that Pew- survey derived question) & that there is "no scientific consensus" on AGW (if one asks them *that*) so supportive (if one asks them) of the actions of SE Fla Regional Climate Change Compact (which makes no bones about "human causation") that their Republican congressional delegation members (ones who say they accept "human caused" climate change) have started a congressional climate caucus, which is willing to put mitigation on table if other congress members will start talking about a federal program to protect high-impact regions from harm?

Beliefs do matter. I said the question "but what does X [kentucky farmer, SE Floridian, Pakistani Dr, science-curious evolution disbeliever who watches evoution documentaries, et al.] "really believe?" is ill-formed-- because the only answer is that beliefs are what people do with them.

March 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Lots to ponder... still haven't got my thoughts totally in order about it...

I'm happy to concede that there might be some level of cognitive dualism going on, mildly speaking - obviously people are more than capable of having inconsistent beliefs.

My general feeling though is that the most consequential public attitude regarding climate change *is* mitigation support - whether you support serious action to fix climate change, as much as possible, as quickly as possible. I'm not claiming that most liberals have that attitude, or are acting consistently with it, by any means. But you can't claim that among both US citizens and policymakers, that the same side that's vastly more willing to agree that climate change is human caused, isn't also vastly more likely to support serious action.

I might be willing to revise my beliefs if I saw more evidence of "disbelievers'" support for anything more than adaptation, or no-regrets measures like energy efficiency - but for the moment, I've got to say I'm skeptical that people who disbelieve in human causation, but who "use what they know about what scientists know" to come around to support for substantial mitigation, are anything more than a tiny minority of outliers.

March 25, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

@Neil--

Isn't the question of what's a "consequential attitude" different from what people understand about the facts?

Obviously, one can "believe" in every conceivable sense in AGW --isdenity- expressive, test-taking, action-enabling (I've invested my entire retirement account in companies that will exploit new trans-arctic shipping lanes) -- w/o favoring mitigation.

Lots of serious people think that meaningful mitigation is not feasible or cost-effective. They might be wrong. But they are proof that "believing" in AGW and "supporting mitigation" are entirely different things.

For sure it's an article of faith on part of lots of "climate science communicators" that "moving the needle" on public-opinion survey measures of "belief in climate change" will lead to promulgation of mitigation policies. But that's a testament to a regrettable (even willful) lack of reflection on their part-- not only about what "belief" measures, but also about how facts & policies relate to each other and about the political economy forces that link public opinion to democratic policymaking.... I think we have discussed these matters...

But in any case, whether people support mitigation can't be a valid way to figure out what people know about state of scientific evidence on climate change or how to make sense of information processig relating to the same, right?

Now, though, I want to dial back the level of certitude in everyting that appeared in my previous response to your comments by, oh, 45%.

For sure I still don't know what exactly is going on in their heads?"

For sure, "cognitive dualism" is for me just a plausible hypothesis, all the conclusions about it based on evidence super provisional, and much of what I say about it in advancing it as a position worthy of serious consideration meant in the spirit of conjecture.

But there is a *consequential* deficit of engagement with the "science communication measurement problem"-- and under such circumstances, understatement of the significance of evidence that makes people see this is no virtue and exuberance in pointing it out no vice

March 25, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I stand extensively corrected with respect to what OSI is. Thank you, Dan. It still rests on a few mental puzzles, which I'm not convinced really evaluate one's ability to make causal inferences or appraise risks. (The Conditional Probability item was included, yes, but is so poorly answered in general, there's not much discriminative power.) But incremental progress is incremental.

And just to make sure that we are seeing the same things, Dan, I'm gonna repeat a few things to you in my own words...

The solid lines go up uniformly. The solid line lower in correctness than the other belongs to the culturally challenged side of each prompt. The dashed line of the culturally unchallenged side is not very interestingly different. The dashed line of the culturally challenged side displays worsening performance with increasing OSI throughout the entire mid-range, with increasing performance with increasing OSI at the very high ends. It's sort of a Dunning-Kruger type graph.

To be perfectly clear, I am hypothesizing that the increasing performance with increasing OSI at the very high end was attributable to a subpopulation of people whose response actually consisted of conscious -thought- about the question prompts, as opposed to the bulk of people who only reported their unconscious -feelings- about the question prompt.

The shape of the culturally challenged dashed line is then mechanistically explained by the pre-emption of reflective thought by encultured feeling. In other words, in the middle are people who were guided primarily by their feelings in the response, and whose knowledge served to bolster their own certainty in their feelings once they had already come to their emotional decision.

If this hypothesis is true, then the natural question becomes, what interventions/communication strategies cause people in the middle to behave more like the subpopulation on the right end? We've long assumed that pushing people towards higher OSI is the answer (more and better information will solve our problems, right?!), but reality is increasingly clearly not so. In fact, one might even argue that banning the non-productive climate change discussions will not really be practical because that's the very kind of discussion that the people in the middle want to have!

I confess, I don't -actually- know how to evaluate or critique a loess regression, so I don't know if changing methodologies would help evaluate this or other claims.

So do you now feel more comfortable responding to the earlier points of inquiry?

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"Let's see ... 28% of farmers in Tx, Missouri, NC Wisc say they believe "climate change is not scientifically proven"--period"

So does the IPCC! (IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 9.)

"Scientifically proven" is different from "common scientific opinion" is different from "true".

"Climate change" is difference from "climate change in the last couple of decades" is different from "climate change in the past 60 years" is different from "climate is known to be changing now" is different from "anthropogenic climate change" is different from "the anthropogenic component of climate change over the last 60 years being large enough to detect" is different from "future catastrophic anthropogenic climate change".

It's complicated! And you keep ignoring the complications.

"How about SE Fla? Why are all the Republicans [...] who say they don't accept that the "temperature of the earth has been increasing in recent decades" [...] so supportive (if one asks them) of the actions of SE Fla Regional Climate Change Compact [...] that their Republican congressional delegation members [...] have started a congressional climate caucus, which is willing to put mitigation on table if other congress members will start talking about a federal program to protect high-impact regions from harm?"

Because they get given more taxpayer's money by the government if their representatives say the right things.

The obvious step is to ask them. Is there any survey of Republican voters asking them why they support the climate compact, even though it's talking about reducing greenhouse emissions and making statements supporting a human cause?

"Now, though, I want to dial back the level of certitude in everyting that appeared in my previous response to your comments by, oh, 45%. For sure I still don't know what exactly is going on in their heads?" "

That's good. It's an interesting hypothesis - I expect it applies at least some of the time (I've certainly applied the hypothesis myself to climate campaigners who fly to conferences, etc.). But it needs a lot more detail in the questions used to pin down exactly what positions people hold before we can obtain the evidence to test it.

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Neil

==> I might be willing to revise my beliefs if I saw more evidence of "disbelievers'" support for anything more than adaptation, or no-regrets measures like energy efficiency

What type of support? Lip-service on blogs or a willingness to implement economic policies that would enable adaptation and energy efficiency to be manifest?

Do you see evidence of action among those "disbelievers" that distinguishes their opinions on adaptation and energy efficiency from mere political stances in support of a group-identified ideology?

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan,

Basically, I care about getting people to support some kind of serious mitigation solution - whether that be conservative solutions a la Bob Inglis, libertarian solutions a la Jerry Taylor/Niskanen Center, or liberal solutions a la Sierra Club, Bernie Sanders, etc.

While what you say is true and belief that AGW is real (i.e. the no-prefix question) is in no way a sufficient condition for that kind of support, I remain convinced that it's one *necessary* condition for supporting serious policy. Thus I care about what makes people express that kind of belief.

I think we shouldn't be satisfied by getting people to say "yes" to the prefix question - it's not enough that people can identify what scientists say, we also want them to believe that scientists are correct. And I think most scientists would agree.

March 26, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

@Neal--

The test for whether people believe climate science is right is whether they use it when it is uniquely suited for enabling them to do something that they want to do--not whether they support mitigation. Support for mitigation & acceptance of climate science for decisionmaking are completely orthogonal.

If the Kentucky Farmer uses a Climatepro AGW-model driven forecast to help him decide whether to plan soybeans rather than corn, he "believes" what scientists have concluded about climate change *for that purpose." But he doesn't support mitigation.

The modal recreational "liberal Democrat" "believes" climate scienitsts are right for one purpose only: to be who he or she is. There is absolutely nothing else that person *uses* climate science knowlege for. Certainly not for doing anyting practical in life (like driving her kids to soccer practice in her SUV). Not even for being a citizen, since in in fact the probability that he or she will ever punish a "liberal Democrat" political actor for *failing* to do squat on cliimate change is pretty close to 100%, so long as that plitical actor gives the required tribal pledge to "belief in" AGW.

A "climate activist" liberal Democrat might support mitigation-- fervently, by attending marches in NYC, chaining herself to the fence of pipeline construction sites, etc. But likely what she "believes" climate scientists think is riddled with errors. She is probably terrified that there will be an epidemic of skin cancer from climate change. She also probably is chaining herself to nuclear power plant gates in the name of reducing global warming.

There's something that is skewing analytical clarity here. I think it's the conflation of the project (scholarly and practical) to make sense of how people process infomration with the political objective of "getting them" to support particular policies.

March 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@Dypoon--

1. Some reactions to "how to read" the locally weighted regression dashed-line tea leaves in today's post. What do *you* see in the new leaves?

2. On information processing, OSI, prefixes, identity, etc.

I *think* it's likely we hold materially equivalent views here! I think the "prefix" determines how subjects engage the assessment item: when it is absent, in reliably identity-expressive way; when not, in a way that reveals what they understand to be the prevailing view in the relevant community of scientists. I think that you are agreeing with me on that, more or less.

That's for sure the 85% point.

The 15% remaining has to do with the sort of informtioin-processing that we should impute to individuals who vary in OSI.
You attribute thesuperior performance of high OSI-scoring subjects in the prefix version to their stronger disposition to use conscious, effortful processing -- a system 2 information processing style that is definitely built into OSI (even if you still don't love it as much as the other 13.999999999 billion readers of this blog!). They summon the "what do scientists" think mind-set more reliably than their more emotional, affect-benighted System 1 counerparts. (I am a tad skeptical of this picture of how dual process reasoning works, btw.)

I have a simpler explanation:

a. The prefix has excactly the same effect on everyone regardless of OSI: it motivates them to engage informtaion as test-takers or scvience-knoweledge evincers rather than as identity-expressers (people are both of those things; do both of those things w/ their reason-- at different times in and in different situations.").

b. But those high in OSI just know more about the basics of climate science than those who are lower in OSI. Accordingly, they do better, not becuse they are engaged in a differnt form of information processing when the prefix is present but b/c they are better prepared for the test.

c. When the prefix isn't present, everying is an identity-expresser. People high in OSI are *better* at that too: long before the come to teh lab, they have used their reasoning proficiency to tune their information processing capacities (conscious and unconconscious) to summon as necessary the beliefs that enable them to *be* individuals with a cutural identity.

Here's a small bit of "proof" in the data that this interpretation is more likely right than yours (assuming I am understanding it correctly; do help me out if I'm not-- you've helped me a good bit already in this discussion).

If low OSI subjects were not dong as well as high OSI ones b/c they can't shake "identity-expressive" system 1 information processing (I really don't buy the identification of system 1 w/ unconscious processing, either!), then there shouldn't be much difference in the responses modest-scoring OSI subjects give conditoinal on the prefix. That is, a middling OSI conservative, on your review, ought to be pretty much as likely to give the identity-expressive "hell no!" to "flooding" whether or not the item is introduced with "according to climate scienitsts"; likewise the middling OSI OSI liberal ought to be as likely to be picking "hell yes" on nuclear, whether or not the prefix is present.

But that's plainly not so. At the mean of OSI, for both left-leaning and right-leaning subjects, the probability of an identity-epxressive answer is substantially higher when one removes the prefix. Indeed, even below the mean-- at 25th percentile on nuclear (a hard question) and even 18th & below on "flooding" (an easyone), those subjects are highly likely to give different answers dependikng on whether the prefix is there.

IN sum, the modest OSI subjecss, like the high OSI ones, are doing something different when the prefix is there: telling us what they think science knows.

They *can* evince scientific knowlege in addition to express identity; just not very well!

3. As for interventions, you say pushing people to be like ones high in OSI is likely not very useful. I think it's likely to be useful for lots of things & also is intrinsically valuable.

But I agree promoting greater science comprhension won't make the climate conflict go away. Indeed, we must make the conflict go away to get the benefits of a science literate citizenry.

To remove the conflict, we must annihilate the ridiculous incentive that people w/ opposing outlooks have to use their reason form identity-expressive beliefs indpendently of whether those beliefs are true will. On that, I think you are underestimating the sort of "ban the wrong 'climate change' discussion" strategy that is featured in SE Fla Climate Polistical Science.

But in any case, I don't think "having a solution" is of any significance for assessing whether the sort of dynamic being addressed here is indeed part of the problem.
mechanisms reciprocally through lab & field work.

March 26, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

"If the Kentucky Farmer uses a Climatepro AGW-model driven forecast to help him decide whether to plan soybeans rather than corn, he "believes" what scientists have concluded about climate change"

I don't understand - why on Earth would they do that?

According to the models, AGW is not expected to have any effects detectable on a scale less than decades/continents. Deciding what to plant this year or next year is very much in the domain of weather - not climate. As we keep on being told every time there's a single cold winter somewhere and we get told you have to average the records over many years to tell.

Year-to-year weather is the domain of meteorologists, not climatologists. I am sure that farmers do buy consultancy services from meteorologists. (And the surveys say nearly half of meteorologists are climate sceptics, too.)

I don't know - maybe farmers are being stupid. Or maybe they're buying meteorology services from climatologists because they know the AGW thing doesn't really affect the result and it's cheaper. But it sounds really odd. Are you sure?

And has anyone actually asked them why they do so?

March 27, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV-

Well, do you think I put my $ on guys who have their $ on the line...


http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/11/11/climate-by-numbers

I talk to Republicans in pretty often actually. The lab-field work are very reciprocal.

March 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

At the risk of being insulted by our host again, I was wanting to comment on this point made by Neil


I think we shouldn't be satisfied by getting people to say "yes" to the prefix question - it's not enough that people can identify what scientists say, we also want them to believe that scientists are correct. And I think most scientists would agree.

I wonder if scientists do agree with this. A point I've tried to make before, is that there is a difference between public understanding of science, and public acceptance of science. In my view - as a scientist who does public outreach - my interest is in public understanding, not pubilc acceptance. What people (the public or policy makers) do with the information provided is up to them. On the other hand, there may be scenarios where public acceptance becomes important, but the decision as to whether or not we should be trying to get the public to accept science is not one that should be made by scientists (in my view, at least). This is a decision for those who represent us. Public acceptance will probably require some kind of marketing exercise. Although most scientists would probably like to know how to better communicate with the public and policy makers, there is a difference between learning how to communicate better, and learning how to sell your science; most scientists would probably prefer the former than the latter.

Dan:

But the decision of whether to support mitigation *is* a type of decision-making. Why is it fine to want the farmer to use climate science to change his choices of crops, but off-limits to hope that he uses climate science to change his choices re: mitigation?

With the crop example, you're making a value judgment about which crops are "better", given climate science. You're still advocating a certain type of crops over others - or at least, that there's a set of crop choices that are somewhat better than other choices he might make. If you care about whether he uses climate science information, this implies that there is a non-zero chance that doing so can improve his choices.

Why is this kind of "advocacy" - trying to "get him" to support a particular set of crops - categorically different from wanting citizens to choose from a set of climate policies - including conservative policies - that are likely to lead to better outcomes? Are you saying it's because crops = "tornado politics" and climate = "abortion politics", in Pielke's terminology?

Or would you say that the choice is up to the farmer, and there's no such thing as a "poor" crop choice, just as long as he thinks about climate science at some point in the process?


There's Physics:

I think the last part of my answer to Dan gets at what you're saying somewhat - do you really not care what people "do" with the information? What about people who have considered the record of vaccine research, and then their choice of what to do with the information is to argue that evidence supporting vaccines is fraudulent?

It is an interesting empirical question - one I'd like to know the answer to - what proportion of scientists support "understanding" vs "acceptance". This article looks at similar issues:

http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0148867

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

Dan,

Thanks for the link. I understand now - they're selling what I would call meteorology services but calling it 'climate'. It's just a terminological disagreement, and I can see now why you said what you said.

I think this passage summarises the point best:

“You don’t need to talk about climate change per se,” he told me. “Statistically, you are looking at a series of numbers. If it were a roulette wheel, you could say, ‘It’s coming up black more and more frequently.’ Can I attribute that to black being overweighted by the croupier? Or to the pit boss, or the machine being broken? It doesn’t matter.

That's the attitude we ought to have. The climate changes for many reasons - it's irrelevant to the farmers why.

ATTP,

I agree with you! Completely and totally!

The distinction has to be made between 'scientists' and people who say things like:


On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public's imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This 'double ethical bind' we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

It's this latter attitude that scientists like me are complaining about. Personally, I've got no problem with scientists genuinely concerned about climate change explaining what they think and why they think so. But 'the right balance between being effective and being honest'?! Oh dear!

Do you agree?

Neil,

"With the crop example, you're making a value judgment about which crops are "better", given climate science."

There's no question that crop success depends objectively, and in a reasonably well-understood way, on the weather. And that farmers should and do use the scientific study of the the weather - both current observations and the statistics - to improve their odds of success.

The issue here is whether this in any way depends upon, or implies support for the hypothesis of AGW being a danger, or for all the claims made in relation to it being valid. Long-term AGW models (which work at too coarse a resolution for farming) predict about 3 C warming in 2100 (depending on emissions scenario), which is roughly 0.03 C rise per year. This is compared to a normal background 'weather' spread on the relevant scale of about +/-1 C with fairly frequent statistical outliers out to about +/-10 C. (See first two figures here for a look at the monthly 1x1 deg gridcell data.) It should be clear from this that even in mainstream climate science AGW does not and cannot affect the decision of what to plant this/next year. It might (if you can sensibly estimate odds on it) affect decisions about what to plant in 20-40 years time.

I don't think that using meteorology services implies (or refutes) unspoken support for the AGW consensus by Kentucky farmers. At least, not on the basis of what we've seen so far. I'm open, as ever, to Dan finding something a bit more explicit about farmers' unspoken views on it. Perhaps if there's evidence that the farmers don't know that AGW is irrelevant to short-term agricultural meteorology...?

"It is an interesting empirical question - one I'd like to know the answer to - what proportion of scientists support "understanding" vs "acceptance"."

Indeed! That's an excellent question!

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

PS - here is a review that gives a concise overview of the "tornado politics" vs "abortion politics" idea:

http://www.bioethics.ac.uk/news/The-Honest-Broker-Making-Sense-of-Science-in-Policy-and-Politics.php

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

Neil,


I think the last part of my answer to Dan gets at what you're saying somewhat - do you really not care what people "do" with the information?

If I'm a scientist communicating with the public, or with policy makers, then - IMO - my role is to aid public understanding. I wouldn't feel comfortable - in my role as a scientist - using that position to try and find a way to get the public/policy makers to accept science (rather than to simply improve understanding). On the other hand, as a member of society, of course I care; these are important issues that I think we should be taking seriously. However, if I start engaging in activities that are aimed at improving acceptance (rather than understanding) then I think I have to make clear that I'm now doing so as a concerned citizen, not as a professional scientists (well, unless there is some kind of mandate to do so).


It is an interesting empirical question - one I'd like to know the answer to - what proportion of scientists support "understanding" vs "acceptance". This article looks at similar issues:

I suspect that the answer to this would depend on the context in which it is asked. As a member of society of course I care about whether or not we take seriously situations in which the scientific evidence suggests that we may want to take some kind of action. As a scientist, however, it's not my responsibility to make sure that it's taken seriously; it's my responsibility to ensure that the information is accessible and understandable.

NiV,
I particularly dislike discussing the Schneider quote, as I think it is often horribly misrepresented and I've yet to encounter a situation where discussing it proves worthwhile, or constructive. If you're interested, my comment here is my thinking on the topic.

ATTP,

"If you're interested, my comment here is my thinking on the topic."

Thanks. That's clear enough. I don't agree that that was what he said - I accept that it might be what he meant. Nevertheless, I think it's the most concise and accurate summary I've seen (reading it with my interpretation) of what climate activist scientists actually do, which is the antithesis of what you were saying scientists should be doing.

"Do you stress the caveats and uncertainties and leave people with the view that we're very uncertain when, in fact, we're not?"

If, in fact, you're not, then no of course you shouldn't. The problem here is that, in fact, you are.

"Do you stress things that gets the message across that this is an issue that we should be taking seriously?"

Yes. But in my opinion the best way to do that is to visibly take it seriously, which means adhering to the highest possible standards of scientific quality and evidence, not the lowest. If this is indeed the biggest danger facing mankind in the 21st century (or was that a simplified, dramatic statement?), then sloppy science (or even the appearance of it) should be absolutely intolerable. And sloppy presentation to the public and policy makers, which puts at risk the credibility of the entire enterprise, likewise. If you need more than two minutes to explain the science, then insist on getting more than two minutes. In the internet age, this is not difficult.

Scientists should indeed take the science seriously - it was precisely their failure to do so that was the biggest factor in my concluding that it was probably just another politics-driven scare story.

"Seriously" is not on the same planet as "scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements". You should leave those to the politicians.

But I can understand why you don't want to discuss it. Thanks for responding.

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Neil--

Where did I it's "fine to want the farmer to use climate science to change his choices of crops, but off-limits to hope that he uses climate science to change his choices re: mitigation"?

I'm trying to test hypotheses about the relationship between different forms of information processing -- idenity-expressive and science-knowledge-acquiring -- that individuals might engage in in relation to climate change.

My point was that it gets confusing when people try to figure out what inferences the evidence supports on that issue by asking "does that make the farmer support mitigation?" Where did I say it's "off limits" for people to try to convince the farmer to support mitigation?

That's exactly the confusion I was objecting to in my last comment about "conflating the project (scholarly and practical) to make sense of how people process infomration with the political objective of 'getting them' to support particular policies." The confusion seems to go like this:" 'believing in climate change is proven by support for mitigation; you say he can demosntrate belief by using climate change science without supporting mitigation; therefore your theory, by denying that belief in AGW entails support for mitigation, means it is 'fine' for people not to support mitigation & 'off limits' to promote mitigation..." Huh?

I have suggested that doing things that reinforce the reason that 50% of the US has to form the identity-epxressive belief that "human climate change isn't happening" is a bad idea if one wants to make politics a domain in which people engage climate change as science-knowledge acquirers. Do you disagree with that? I think that if people who want to "get others to support" mitigation *got* this, they'd be making a lot more progress. Indeed, I keep pointing out how much better those who do *get* this point are doing than those who don't.

March 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

@NiV--

Do you think crop insurers just want meterology? Weather forecasting? Not models that tell them how much more likely droughts are likely to be in the next decade & the one after that? How much the average temperature of this decade will differ from next? B/c it's information about all those things what Monsanto, now that it owns ClimateCorp, is selling-- to the insurers and to climate-skeptical farmers.

March 28, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan, upon reflection you didn't say mitigation was off limits, so I'll rescind that point.

Doing things that reinforce polarization is bad. I do not disagree with that. I just don't think that the solution to polarization over important facts is to cede that ground... to write off the facts about human causation as forever lost to polarization, and nevermore shall we speak of this specific fact of human causation, nor care whether people believe this fact, for it is polarizing.

By all means we should care about ways to promote the use of climate science knowledge that *isn't* polarizing. But it's not an either-or question - you can do that AND search for things that might turn people toward "really believing" in controversial, polarized facts too.

March 28, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

1.
You see noise, I see signal. Here's an argument that it's signal, worth 3:1 odds if sound. If an end-of-the-range variation were noise, then you'd expect a deviation to have more or less equal probability of going in either direction - towards correct or incorrect, right? Because we see both high-OSI tails trending towards correct, our prior should be 3 to 1 by Fischer's exact test. This argument could easily be refuted by examining more prompts!

Furthermore, a noise effect would equally affect the -unchallenged- side (unless your sample's skewed and you didn't tell me!), so we can already sort of see what size of effect statistical noise has. We don't see deflections of similar size in either direction on the unchallenged side.

I *think* it's likely we hold materially equivalent views here! I think the "prefix" determines how subjects engage the assessment item: when it is absent, in reliably identity-expressive way; when not, in a way that reveals what they understand to be the prevailing view in the relevant community of scientists. I think that you are agreeing with me on that, more or less.

Yep, we're broadly agreeing. I just think that when the prefix is absent you're looking at the superposition of two subpopulations' responses, one identity-dominated and one thinking-dominated. The measurement of the knowledge of expert opinion in both of those subpopulations is equally effectively deconvoluted by the prefix.

2.

You attribute the superior performance of high OSI-scoring subjects in the prefix version to their stronger disposition to use conscious, effortful processing -- a system 2 information processing style that is definitely built into OSI. They summon the "what do scientists" think mind-set more reliably than their more emotional, affect-benighted System 1 counerparts.

I think this paragraph misrepresents my position. In the prefix version? I don't think I made any claims at all about "system 1" or "system 2" in the prefixed version. I think the uniformly increasing slopes with OSI in the prefix condition suggest that everyone knows more about what scientists believe when they're better at science, with only a small and constant interaction with what they believe.

The only place I'm contending any involvement of thinking vs. feeling is within the non-prefixed challenge condition - the curved dashed lines. I'm invoking that contention to explain why neither of those lines is straight, unlike all the others that basically are straight.

If low OSI subjects were not dong as well as high OSI ones b/c they can't shake "identity-expressive" system 1 information processing (I really don't buy the identification of system 1 w/ unconscious processing, either!), then there shouldn't be much difference in the responses modest-scoring OSI subjects give conditoinal on the prefix.

For this train of thought to be sound, don't you need to assume that the mid-percentiles of OSI are where the transition between system 1-dominated and system-2 dominated processing (as you put it) occurs? Have we any evidence to believe that so? My viewpoint was instead that you could see where the transition occurs between the slightly-worse and the slightly-better population by where the correctness starts picking up, which appears to be noticeably higher than the mid-range of OSI.

In fact, as my lovely SO points out, you might not even expect that transition OSI percentile to be consistent between question prompts. They suggested using the transition percentile location itself as a measure of the culturally polarizing force of the prompt.

If low OSI subjects were not diong as well as high OSI ones b/c they can't shake "identity-expressive" system 1 information processing (I really don't buy the identification of system 1 w/ unconscious processing, either!), then there shouldn't be much difference in the responses modest-scoring OSI subjects give conditoinal on the prefix. That is, a middling OSI conservative, on your review, ought to be pretty much as likely to give the identity-expressive "hell no!" to "flooding" whether or not the item is introduced with "according to climate scienitsts"; likewise the middling OSI OSI liberal ought to be as likely to be picking "hell yes" on nuclear, whether or not the prefix is present.

I think you're mistaken here. Let's say we successfully replaced OSI 2.0 with OSI-magic, whose median did in fact correspond to the transition between the dominance of feelers and of thinkers. I still wouldn't expect the non-prefix challenged population average correctness to rise to the level of the prefixed correctness at 50%ile OSI-magic, as you seem to be claiming should happen. If we assume challenged, reflective people respond "honestly" as they think scientists would respond, the challenged population average correctness would be equal to (50% * prefixed correctness + 50% * the feelers' correctness) at that OSI-magic; the needle would only move halfway towards the solid line from the full interaction. Even with that assumption, you'd still see a big gap.

And I think the assumption that challenged, reflective people respond as they think scientists would respond is pretty difficult to defend. There's no reason to believe the effect of one's reflection is sufficient to completely counteract one's own prejudice, as we know from legal history. So the gap would be even bigger.

3.

On that, I think you are underestimating the sort of "ban the wrong 'climate change' discussion" strategy that is featured in SE Fla Climate Polistical Science.

Yeah, you're right, and I'm wrong. Thanks for calling me on it. Just because I don't have the moderation chops to pull it off doesn't mean it's not effective or worth doing; quite the contrary.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

I have to agree with Neil's comment about not ceding ground. There may well be information that is polarizing. If there is some equivalent way to present that information that is less polarizing, then that might well be the best way to do so. However, choosing not to present information simply because it is (or might be) polarizing is not typically a reasonable thing to do if the information is a crucial part of the topic being discussed. As Neil says


But it's not an either-or question - you can do that AND search for things that might turn people toward "really believing" in controversial, polarized facts too.

@Neal--

when you say "cede ground," are you referring to anything I've said? I don't see anything in my account that does so.

But I think the idiom of "ceding ground" is itself part of the confusion I keep trying to steer us away from. I'm trying to get at the dynanmics of information processing at work here; I don't think answers to empirical questions can be evaluated for their impact in polemical/political debates ("ceding ground...") -- logically, practically or otherwise.

And for the billionth time, *I'm* saying the Farmer *accepts* climate science--incuding AGW-- *for being a farmer*. He rejects it *to be* a member of a cultural community, when that is what he is doing, whos identity is tied to that position (as a result of a deformed, diseased political discourse on this issue).

People in SE Fla, 1/2 of whom "disbelieve in climate change" (period), believe in AGW *for purposes of doing something about it* in their lives. There's no "ceding ground" or "writing off the facts about human causation as forever lost to polarization..." What's banned is the style of discourse that is modal among climate advocates who think that assaulting the identity of 50% of the populatin is a winning form of "science communicatin."

for the billionth time, it's not the words but the conversatiion that is polarizing. They talk about "human caused climate change" in all these contexts, just not in the "your team is stupid" way that Styer, Gore, & their "social marketing" helpers do, which predictably turns people into identity-express information processors rather than knowledge-acquiring ones.

I'm used to other people not getting this, no matter how many times & how clearly I say it; I get why they don't. But et tu?

March 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

OT, but I thought you might find this interesting.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I hate it when I do that!! (not that I've ever done it before)

Dan -

OT, but I thought you might find this interesting.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/failure-is-moving-science-forward/

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan -

Seems to me that you answering the question of whether you're "ceding ground" is a shows a repeat pattern.

Perhaps you don't particularly care that it happens, or perhaps you're content to just conclude that there's just a lot of people who confuse you with someone else or who don't understand what you've written (for any variety of reasons)...

But perhaps there is something else in play here also.

Seems to me that there is a more generic question in play: At what point does taking steps to avoid polarization enable people whose goal is polarization or who at least aren't committed to de-polarization? This is certainly not the only context where that question becomes relevant.

It seems that you changed the wording of your previous ("et tu") comment above - so I like to think that there is some room for you to explore further how simply concluding that the responsibility lies elsewhere, - for a repeated pattern of people interpreting the implications of your advocacy differently than how you intend - may be sub-optimal.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

NiV -

==> According to the models, AGW is not expected to have any effects detectable on a scale less than decades/continents. Deciding what to plant this year or next year is very much in the domain of weather - not climate.

Perhaps I just don't understand the models well enough, but my understanding is that the models, while not supporting a "prediction" for this year or the next, do lay out a probabilistic framework for making decisions about the odds, relatively, that are worth considering on a decade-to-decade, if not year-to-year basis. Of course it would be a mistake to assume that it will be warmer next year than this, or that there won't be a cold spell for a couple of years...but if I were a farmer I would be thinking that the models indicate that it's probably a wise choice for me to hedge against a greater likelihood of increasing temperatures during the rest of my lifetime. Am I wrong about that?

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Dan,


I'm used to other people not getting this, no matter how many times & how clearly I say it; I get why they don't. But et tu?

Let's see here. A reasonable number of people appear not to get what you're saying. For some reason, however, it's their fault and an indication of some failing on their part, rather than you either not being clear, or - maybe - what you actually say not being entirely consistent with you claim you're saying?

I'll add again, that I find it remarkable that you would lecture others about not being polarizing and not calling others stupid, while appearing to do precisely that yourself. Can you at least acknowledge the irony? I appreciate that you don't need to practice what you preach, but in not doing so it is harder to feel that you actually believe what you're promoting.

Joshua:

Perhaps I just don't understand the models well enough, but my understanding is that the models, while not supporting a "prediction" for this year or the next, do lay out a probabilistic framework for making decisions about the odds, relatively, that are worth considering on a decade-to-decade, if not year-to-year basis. Of course it would be a mistake to assume that it will be warmer next year than this, or that there won't be a cold spell for a couple of years...but if I were a farmer I would be thinking that the models indicate that it's probably a wise choice for me to hedge against a greater likelihood of increasing temperatures during the rest of my lifetime. Am I wrong about that?

I don't think you're wrong about that at all. Unfortunately, over the years 2009-2016 (arbitrary: starting from when I was in graduate school and paying closer attention) the expert climate models of global average temperature have reliably overpredicted the actual change, and do not actually outperform a straight-line regression from 1953. Furthermore, the climate models are more uncertain in the near future than in the far future. Because of discounting future cash flows, the decision points for whether a climate adaptation project is a good investment or not are much more sensitive to the near future than to the far future.

So while yes, farmers have every incentive to prepare against the eventualities predicted from the qualitative science that everything will be warmer, soil moisture flux will be higher and more net-negative, etc..., it's quite scientifically honest to claim that quantitative models are still too poor to be used responsibly. To state it in the terms favored by this forum, we just don't know enough well enough.

So for instance, can you sell a high-tunnel hoophouse in the Midwest as a flood risk reduction measure for specialty crops, or as a way of preserving workable days in the field? Probably. But the core justification is still going to come from the economic benefits of season extension. It's very difficult to convince a current landowners to make a decision -now- that will benefit the person on the land 30 years from now. The government might find a justification to subsidize it so that they do it anyway, but that just begs the question of when we ought to be adapting - can we do it 25 years from now and use hte money now to pay down the debt and build more immediately useful infrastructure until then? Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes no.

But already you see how far we've come from a general impulse to act now and act soon. The act now-act soon impulse is important for mitigation, because CO2 is a stock pollutant. It's also important when other harms are clear and present, like SE FL seawater intrusion, or CA Central Valley groundwater pumping.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

==> "...which predictably turns people into identity-express information processors rather than knowledge-acquiring ones."

Once again, I suspect this is a mis-attribution of causality, if not just a statement of causality that isn't really evidence based. Do you really think that absent identity-aggressive rhetoric from "realists," "skeptics" wouldn't be engaged in identity-protective cognition?

Not all people "turn into" identity-expressive infoemation processors when they hear AL Gore speak. Only those who are pre-disposed, ideologically react in such a manner. So what is causal there? You need to have a catepilar

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Er.....caterpillar....to get a butterfly. You don't get a caterpillar from a frog. You don't get information processing along well worn ideological pathways from people who aren't ideologically predisposed to do so. The predisposition is already there. So then, if that predisposition is triggered by something that Al Gore says, did Al turn people into identity-expressive infoemation processers?

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

So then, if that predisposition is triggered by something that Al Gore says, did Al turn people into identity-expressive information processers?

Actually, I've long faulted An Inconvenient Truth for being too low on solution for how high it was on problem, and triggering the apathetic emotional self-defense response. My impression was that political polarization on climate change wasn't as strong before 2007, which if true would definitely indicate Al Gore's egg as having made this chicken. You can see how much of a fear-response it induced in the general population by observing how easy it was for the food movement to hijack the environmental movement after 2007 and into the 2010s.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

dypoon -

So should we lay responsibility at Obama's feet because identity information processers think that he's an Africa-born Muslim?

If so, does he deserve the full responsibility, or only some of it?

If not, then what distinguishes his responsibility in that context in relation to Gore's in the climate change context?

IMO, the polarization in the climate change context has roots that extend back well before AIT, and finding a point of origin is, (a) a process that is extremely susceptible to "motivated" attribution and, (b) probably a futile effort anyway as there is probably, for all practical purposes, no definable point of origin.

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

dypoon -

==> over the years 2009-2016 (arbitrary: starting from when I was in graduate school and paying closer attention) the expert climate models of global average temperature have reliably overpredicted the actual change.

Well, I have read quite a few, seemingly very knowledgeable people, express different views on that point. Here's my take (as someone not particularly knowledgeable or capable of sophisticated statistical analysis)...

As suggested by NiV's post, it seems to me to make little sense to isolate a period of 7 years to say that climate models have "predicted" anything, let alone "over-predicted" anything. It seems to me to be meaningless to view climate models as "predicting" anything (models don't predict, people predict. The outcomes of models can indicate a projection as an extension of existing parameters). On the other hand, it might make sense to make investment decisions on a view that all else equal, it would be better to invest in technology that hedges against warmer temperatures than one that hedges against colder temperatures (with the best effort you can make to account for regional variation). Or, in a low-lying area, technology that protects against sea level rise. Of course, the question of regional granularity only makes question of projections all that much more complicated, and I'm not suggesting that the analysis would be certain or easy, but that at some point it isn't unreasonable to consider the outcomes of modeling as a relevant factor, along with others (such as uncertain projections about economic trends or market variables).

==> ...it's quite scientifically honest to claim that quantitative models are still too poor to be used responsibly. ...

To take off from Rummy's famous (infamous?) quote, you invest in your farm based on the information you have, not the information you might wish or want to have at a later time. I don't see them as too poor to be used responsibly. Responsibly using the models means using them with an acceptance of the uncertainty involved. Such is the lot of people evaluating risk, in particular high impact low probability risk, in the face of uncertainty.

And I'm not getting the frame of "scientific honest[y]" Adding a question of honesty seems inherently problematic, to me - and probably orthagonal.

As an aside, I see how a high-tunnel is useful for extending seasons (I have used them myself for that purpose in gardens and a small-scale urban farm) but not how they help with flood-risk reduction. Can you explain?

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua:

re: Gore:

my first reaction: 'what?' I'm sorry, I don't see how the Obama-birther and Gore-CC examples are comparable. That came out of left field for me. Are you claiming that Obama's memoirs, or some other action of his, confronted the birthers with a giant problem (...of presidential eligibility?), then proposed ineffective and disproportionate solutions to that problem, thus triggering the birthers' apathy and personal distancing from the emotionally charged issue of...presidential eligibility? That's what I think would be necessary to equate the cases, and I dare say you agree that's not what happened. I guess that's the difference you're looking for from me?

re: using information

I think we agree in principle about using what information you have. My assertion here is that the quantitative models are so uncertain, and their past track record poor enough, that their responsible use is often difficult to distinguish from ignoring what they say entirely; the resulting action is to take measures informed by qualitative projections alone. I am not advocating disregarding those qualitative results.

re: scientific honesty:

For a researcher to ask a farmer to make a business decision based upon a suite of climate models that have collectively failed to predict ongoing climate changes in a financially relevant time span is not scientifically honest. Doing so would be succumbing to the researcher's own confirmation bias - it's like saying to someone, you should use this component just because I built it, whether or not it conforms to your operational specs. In this case, the component is a model. Sometimes the best thing to do with a part is to simply set it aside, as most farmers do - you don't have to melt it down or deconstruct it or act against the people who made it. But it strikes me as a dishonest sales job to abuse scientific/expert respect to sell farmers, and the public, on the notion that your models -are- the right models for the job, when their certainties are poorly matched to the decision-relevant parameters. As Dan pointed out, when scientists have made models whose certainties are well matched to decision-relevant parameters, farmers and other agribusinesses buy them and use them!

As an aside, I see how a high-tunnel is useful for extending seasons (I have used them myself for that purpose in gardens and a small-scale urban farm) but not how they help with flood-risk reduction. Can you explain?

Well sure, if your area tends to flood just because the drainage is poor and you create a large impervious surface (the top plastic) over a region you're cultivating, the area underneath it stays drier. The baseboards of a hoophouse can block the surface runoff from diffusing in as well. Think about how much irrigation you typically have to install in a hoophouse just to replace the rain that's being blocked. In a post-rain flooding scenario, that same barrier is keeping your crops safe and protecting your yields. Am I wrong?

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

"Do you think crop insurers just want meterology? Weather forecasting? Not models that tell them how much more likely droughts are likely to be in the next decade & the one after that? How much the average temperature of this decade will differ from next?"

What for? What are they going to do with the information?

Some businesses do need long-range forecasts, because they need to invest now in capital equipment they'll need for the next 20 years. Farmers may have a few bits of specialised farm machinery that lasts that long (if they don't hire it, or sell it on), but I believe their main expenses are all current: water, fertilizer, manpower, transport, etc. As a matter of business, I'd expect them to be interested only in the next few years at most. Do you know otherwise?

"B/c it's information about all those things what Monsanto, now that it owns ClimateCorp, is selling-- to the insurers and to climate-skeptical farmers."

The article you linked to seemed mainly to be talking about current data - like how dry are the fields right now. The chap who runs the firm did talk quite passionately about AGW for a bit, but it wasn't clear to me that this was a significant part of the product being sold. Indeed, the paragraph I quoted seemed to suggest they played the issue of causes down with their customers.

Did you have something specific in mind?

"However, choosing not to present information simply because it is (or might be) polarizing is not typically a reasonable thing to do if the information is a crucial part of the topic being discussed"

It depends on the purpose of the communication. Is it to persuade, to enable understanding, to make the best possible engineering decisions, or to simply present the scientific results obtained? Scientific and engineering results should get reported, irrespective. Only if your intention is to persuade does polarisation matter.

"And for the billionth time, *I'm* saying the Farmer *accepts* climate science--incuding AGW-- *for being a farmer*."

And for the billionth time, where's the evidence of that?

And can I not say, with equal validity, that a climate scientist who flies in fossil-fueled jets to climate conferences in far away places is *denying* the need to curb emissions *for the purposes of being a professional academic*? Is this not a better example?

"Perhaps I just don't understand the models well enough, but my understanding is that the models, while not supporting a "prediction" for this year or the next, do lay out a probabilistic framework for making decisions about the odds, relatively, that are worth considering on a decade-to-decade, if not year-to-year basis."

The probability is conditional. You can use the models to calculate a probability given that the model is correct, and then you have to multiply that by the probability that the model is correct. What the IPCC call 'likelihood' and 'confidence' respectively.

But all I was talking about here was the magnitude of the effect, relative to the noise. Global warming from one year to the next is very small, and most of the variability is random weather. On a local scale (like the size of a farm) the noise of weather is massive. If you average the weather over a continent, a lot of the randomness cancels out and you get a much smaller noise magnitude, but the global warming signal, being global, does not cancel. It's therefore easier to detect. And if you average over tens of years, it cancels still further. Only with this level of cancellation does the rise become distinguishable from the noise. It is simply not yet visible, nor expected to be, at a local (farm-sized, year-to-year) level.

The IPCC themselves say "Difficulties remain in simulating and attributing observed temperature changes at smaller than continental scales." (AR4 SPM) and "Difficulties remain in simulating and attributing observed temperature changes at smaller scales. On these scales, natural climate variability is relatively larger, making it harder to distinguish changes expected due to external forcings. Uncertainties in local forcings, such as those due to aerosols and land-use change, and feedbacks also make it difficult to estimate the contribution of GHG increases to observed small-scale temperature changes" (AR4 2.4.)

"but if I were a farmer I would be thinking that the models indicate that it's probably a wise choice for me to hedge against a greater likelihood of increasing temperatures during the rest of my lifetime. Am I wrong about that?"

Assuming there are indeed farm-related decisions to be made on that timescale, then really you would need to hedge against both, because you're operating at the local level, not the global. There was a climate sceptic chap (it might have been Idso I think) who used to amuse himself by posting temperature records for individual met stations that showed a long-term downward trend. About 1/3 of local records trend down, 2/3 trend up (IIRC). So it's very easy to find places where you ought to have hedged on cooling! Similarly, the Central England Temperature record shows several instances throughout history of long-term (50 years plus) trends up and down of a comparable magnitude to the modern one. Again, this is a local record so we expect the noise level to be high, even on a multi-decade scale. There's the archaeological record of North American mega-droughts. There are evidently many other natural effects in play that can contribute to long-term changes in climate. (At least locally.)

Assuming you accept the hypothesis, and according to the paper Dan cites a fair number of farmers do, then yes, a rise over your lifetime is significantly more likely than a fall, and given an either-or choice, you'd be justified in leaning that way. But I'd not bet the farm on it. Even if the hypothesis is correct, there's still a significant probability of a fall. And given you're likely to have to hedge against both anyway, farmers might well ask what use the prediction is to them. There will be cases where it's appropriate, I'm sure, but I don't really see it being a big thing. That said, I'm not a farmer and don't know. That's why I'm asking Dan what his evidence is instead of telling him he's wrong. I think it would be surprising if true, so I'll want some strong/solid evidence to overturn my priors, but for the same reason, it would be an immensely valuable learning experience for me if it is. You learn by finding out about your mistakes.

"To take off from Rummy's famous (infamous?) quote, you invest in your farm based on the information you have, not the information you might wish or want to have at a later time. I don't see them as too poor to be used responsibly. Responsibly using the models means using them with an acceptance of the uncertainty involved."

Agreed!

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Dan,

Your reply helps clarify things re: "ceding ground"... especially the part about people in SE Florida believing in climate change for the purpose of "doing something" in their lives. Your research is aimed at testing what kinds of strategies lead to information processing whereby that kind of "doing something" becomes more likely. Is that accurate?

I think where we disagree is on what kind of "doing something" we're aiming at - a normative question - do we want to just discover how people process information, or do we want it to lead to particular outcomes, particular "somethings" happening in the real world? A thorny question...

Neil

March 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNeil Stenhouse

As a matter of business, I'd expect them to be interested only in the next few years at most. Do you know otherwise?

I assume it depends on your crop. In Michigan for example, where what's not in corn/soy/wheat is in vegetables, probably a few years at most. But in Central Valley CA, where many of the most profitable crops are tree crops, knowing if the water's going to be too expensive (and if the groundwater's going to be there) for the tree to be profitable when it matures is pretty important. Nut trees and olive trees are especially sensitive to this risk.

[Climate change] is simply not yet visible, nor expected to be, at a local (farm-sized, year-to-year) level.

I must disagree. The USDA Zones are defined on the basis of annual minimum temperature. In the past 20 years, basically everywhere within a 200 mile radius of where I live in the US Midwest has already moved up one Zone because of ongoing climate change. It changes how long the growing season is and what crops are possible to plant.

I tell the farmers I talk to that it's like their land is migrating south 10 miles per year to enjoy the weather, and it's taking their farms and them along for the ride.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

dypoon -

What is the roadmap we can use to gain insight in the Obama situation?

What explains why one group interprets the evidence related to Obama's birth and religion one way, and another group (i.e., the "consensus") interprets the information in another way?

Does the responsibility lie with Obama, because he is critical of the ideology of the other group? Because he ridicules those who claim that he's an Africa-born Muslim? Does we find causality within the "non-consensus" group itself, because the members of that group allow their identity-orientation to bias how they interpret the available evidence?

I am asking what generic principles we can use to determine causality when people from different ideological groups process information in identity-expressive fashion, and then how do we apply those principles in varying contexts.

It is true, actually, that there's a fair amount of cross-over between those who interpret the evidence about Obama to conclude that he's an Africa-born Muslim and those who interpret the evidence about climate change to reach "non-consensus" conclusions. But that isn't the point that I'm stressing. I'm stressing that finding causality in these situations is extremely difficult, and it is a process that is inherently vulnerable to "motivated" attribution.

I am not inclined to attribute the identity-expressive reactions of "non-consensus" believers about climate change to anything in particular that "consensus-believers" do or don't do. My impression is that sort of causal mechanism is too simplistic and superficial to be explanatory of much. The causality, IMO, runs deeper. Implying that "non-consensus" believers are stupid or evil - whether it be because they believe that Obama is an Africa-born Muslim or because they underestimate the prevalence of shared opinion among climate scientists - certainly isn't going to resolve the problem of polarization, but IMO, neither is it likely causal as to why the polarization develops.

Not sure if I helped...I suspect that I mostly just repeated rather than clarified...


==> Are you claiming that Obama's memoirs, or some other action of his, confronted the birthers with a giant problem (...of presidential eligibility?), then proposed ineffective and disproportionate solutions to that problem, thus triggering the birthers' apathy and personal distancing from the emotionally charged issue of...presidential eligibility?

No. I'm claiming that we could find, and in fact many do find, the causality for doubt of his citizenship and religious practice from within the evidence that has been presented on both issues, and the manner in which that evidence has been presented. That is the analogy I am trying to use because I don't think such an explanation is very satisfactory. In the Obama situation, I think that the causality behind the polarization is much more complicated.

I'm saying that your choice of where to start laying out the parallels in the two situations, and the manner in which you lay out the points of analogy, are arbitrary (not in the sense of random, but in the sense of not objective). Implicit in your description is that the polarization was caused when Gore presented "skeptics" with a giant problem to which only "ineffective and disproportionate solutions" were offered, and in such, your outline of the expected parallels is really just circular reasoning, IMO. You are choosing different points of contrast to construct the analogy than what I'm choosing. Analogies are only useful to the point that they are illustrative. IMO, they aren't useful as rhetorical devices, so maybe I should just drop the whole analogy aspect. Arguing about the points of comparison in analogies is usually pointless.

As for the high tunnels...

The high tunnels/hoop houses....

Thanks for the explanation.

I guess I was thinking more of hoop houses (I was never exactly clear about the difference between hoop houses and high tunnels) where the sides were made of plastic that could easily be rolled up (maybe something that is more likely to be true for hoop houses and not high tunnels?) and so, the purpose wasn't so much for water control and their use didn't particularly alter the watering process. In my case, the function of the structures was pretty much limited to extending the seasons on each end (particularly since the production that took place at the ends of the seasons required relatively much less water).

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

==> given that the model is correct,

Which then goes back to how you define "correct."

==> But all I was talking about here was the magnitude of the effect, relative to the noise. Global warming from one year to the next is very small, and most of the variability is random weather.

Sure. But the noise and randomness exists regardless. Because that is relatively larger than the signal doesn't mean that you don't take into account the signal, and perhaps act accordingly.


==> Assuming there are indeed farm-related decisions to be made on that timescale, then really you would need to hedge against both, because you're operating at the local level, not the global.

Of course. You don't put all your eggs in one basket. But you may distribute your eggs based on some measure of considering the probabilistic impact of anthropogenic climate change that increased the likelihood of some trends relative to others. No doubt, the local/global aspect makes the calculations that much more complicated, I'm not suggesting that "responsible" use of model outputs is uncomplicated.

March 30, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

and dypoon -

==> My assertion here is that the quantitative models are so uncertain, and their past track record poor enough, that their responsible use is often difficult to distinguish from ignoring what they say entirely;

Sure. It's difficult. I wouldn't suggest otherwise.

But from where I sit, part of the difficulty is in determining what to think when I see people disagreeing about the uncertainty and quality of the track record.

March 30, 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>