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« Still another cognitive-style steel cage match: CRT vs. AOT go "head to head" on belief in climate change & belief in evolution | Main | SCS vs. AOT ... latest "politically motivated reasoning steel cage match" »

New NAS Report on Science Literacy, Cultural Values & Political Conflict on Policy-relevant Facts

Why don't we all spend the day reading this? Looks important & interesting . . . .

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Reader Comments (3)

Sound familiar?

But do these beliefs hold true for all types of Republicans? Is skepticism about the president's place of birth a consequence of a lack of interest in politics, or is this skepticism prevalent even among the most knowledgeable Republicans?

To probe this possibility, we asked respondents three factual questions about politics* and we compared the beliefs of those correctly answering at least two of the three questions to those who did not. The chart below shows that there are virtually no differences between low-knowledge and high-knowledge Republicans when it comes to their beliefs about Obama's citizenship.

In fact, the distributions are statistically indistinguishable: 40 percent of knowledgeable Republicans disagree that Obama was born in the U.S. compared to 42 percent of lower knowledge Republicans. A greater factual understanding of the political system does not diminish Republicans' doubts about Obama's birthplace.

August 10, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

While I'm off-topic:

Perhaps this interesting support of my view that there is something missing in the discussions in these threads where people talk about polarization as a reflection of differing "values."

Partisan polarization is often not about issues or ideology, but about social identity, teamsmanship and feelings of who is the in-group and who is the out-group (e.g., here and here).

August 11, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Ok, this morning I've resolved to go half way towards reading this National Academy of Sciences report on Science Literacy, Cultural Values and Political Conflict on Policy-relevant Facts.

The first item of interest to me was in the Preface, in a comment having to do with science as a way of knowing in which one of the authors describes a walk with their 4 year old granddaughter, during which the young girl picks up an acorn, and announces "Grandma, I'm going to take this home so I can science it!

This illustrates several key points. The first has to do with privilege and inequity. Not all four year olds have a Grandma who is a NAS member. Not all four year olds know the word "science". Not all four year olds have an opportunity to take a walk in the woods with a relative, or even to see an oak tree. Not all four year olds would be encouraged to speak freely to such a relative, but rather might be required to be respectfully seen but not heard.

But another point has to do with what this four year old has already learned about science. And in how this story was told by the Grandma, how it reflects what this NAS member must think about science. And for the authors as a group to have left this as a cute story for the preface, what the NAS as a group thinks of as science. The four year old planned to take the acorn home to "science" it. Presumably by (with help) looking thinks up in books or on a computer? This seems to have been uncorrected by Grandma. There was apparently no encouragement to sit down where the acorn had fallen, and look up to perhaps see an oak tree. Are their acorns in the tree? Or if no tree was there, to wonder as to how the acorn had been transported to its current location. Can squirrels be seen? Are there other acorns on the ground? Have any acorns sprouted? And overall, what is the role of the acorn in the overall ecology of the place in which it was found?

Is science a way of knowing something that can be learned starting by close evaluation of evidence in the field, with some help from one's elders? Or is it, at the other extreme, only something that can be learned by accessing the information of authorities?

This ties in to a comment I made regarding this book: on a previous post, which contains this exchange:

"This has a passage in which one of the authors is rather disparaging of the knowledge of undergraduates at his institution relative to Mayan 4 year olds in the indigenous groups studied.
Professor: Tell me all of the trees you know.
Student: Oak, pine, spruce, cherry...(giggle) evergreen....Christmas tree is that a kind of tree?
Professor: Tell me some plants.
Student: I can't think of any plants that aren't trees....I know a lot about angiosperms, gymnosperms, gametophytes, sporophytes, but that is biology. It's not really about plants and trees. "

What does it mean to be scientifically literate, and what relationship does that have to appeals to authority or an inquiring mind?

The second item that struck me was this one, in which the history of the definition of "science literacy" was described:

From 2-5:

"The term “science literacy” has pervaded much of the public discourse about science
education and public understanding since 1958 when it appears to have been coined twice,
independently, by Hurd (1958) and McCurdy (1958), as noted by Laugksh (1999). The phrase
was coined as a means of expressing the disposition and knowledge needed to engage with
science—both in an individual’s personal life and in the context of civic issues raised by both the
use of science and technology and the production of more knowledge. Then, as now, there was
mounting concern about the growth of science knowledge 2 and the need for the public to engage
with the political and moral dilemmas posed by scientific and technological advances. McCurdy
(the then President of the Shell Oil Corporation) argued that someone who was science literate
would be able to “participate in human and civic affairs.”"

In fairness, it should be pointed out that Richard McCurdy died at age 88 in 1997 And he was President of Shell Oil way back from 1965 to 1974. The earliest that can now be determined as a date for climate change awareness is currently pegged at 1977 for Exxon, and 1979 for Oil companies more generally: The obituary notes that "After leaving Shell in 1974, he went to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, where he helped decide which projects to retain when funds were cut after the landing on the moon." But what of the obligation on him as a citizen to speak out on climate change, and his former role in it at Shell in which, as the obit notes he "had a large impact on the company by expanding it quickly and investing heavily to upgrade its refineries."? Shell had a stellar futurist group, which is likely to have known more earlier than got into the public record. And, at NASA McCurdy must have been in a unique position to know more about climate than those elsewhere, or if he had just retired).

At any rate I think that it is notable that the NAS does not seem to make any note of this, although perhaps the fact that they bothered to mention that McCurdy was at Shell is a hint that they were thinking about it.

Some of the metrics used in later parts of section 2 would probably benefit if I go back to look at some of the steel cage match posts.

August 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterGaythia Weis

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