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« Tomorrow: Sea level science communication panel | Main | Should I update my priors on partisanship & trust in industry vs. university scientists? By how much & in what direction?! »
Friday
Mar242017

What do you make of *this*? More on partisan differences in trustworthiness of "university" scientists

Careful now . . . .

Like “yesterday's”™ item (WHICHSCI), this one (SCIIMP1) made a one-time-only appearance in 2006 GSS.

Companion items asked whether it was important that "the people who do [science] have advanced degrees in their field"; that "conclusions [be] based on solid evidence"; that "researchers carefully examine different interpretations, even ones they disagree with"; and that  "the results are consistent with religious beliefs." Responseswere all skewed in patterns that reflected a pro-science sensibility. Check out the GSS codebook if you are curious about toplines on those -- they are all skewed toward a pro-science outlook.

Here is regression model, in case anyone is interested.

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Reader Comments (31)

To my untrained eye (not a scientist, not in a university setting), the left-right difference seems trivial, and its impressiveness is exaggerated by the line-graph representation.

March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterChris Cooper

@CC-- thanks!

which graph exaggerates, in your view? The 2d one?

Curious why you'd think the graphic reporting of the relationship between partisanship & trust in university scientsits, as measured by this item, exaggerates partisan differences if you-- not a scientist, statistician etc but just an ordinary reflective person -- can readily discern that that relationship is trivial from the graphs? Do you think I'm trying to trick you or others in your situation into believeing otherwise? If you say "yes," I promise not to be angry at you!

If, as is pretty much the norm in social sciences, I had shown you only this regression output & told you it "proves" partisanship is "significant" influence, would you have been able to form any judgment for yourself?

You might find discussion from "yesterday"(tm) interesting, if you haven't read it already

March 24, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

This phrase is no longer talking about results (like yesterday) - just "something". What makes something scientific?

What is that question trying to be about? Frankly, the first thing that comes to my mind is Karl Popper and falsifiability. When I get to the who-done-it choice, I might be thinking that your testing to see if I know the difference between "scientific" and "academic".

"Actually, it's more like a bag of potato chips" - Dan, at some point you're just licking the insides of an empty bag to get the remaining salt and grease. Although that might be something else typically done by scientists employed in a university setting. Due of course to the salt and grease content of potato chips having been very scientifically manipulated by scientists in a corporate setting to addict the maximum number of customers.

March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan --That's one hypothesis. Can you come up w/ a rival one?

March 24, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

One would expect "university setting" to be viewed negatively on the right - but how much of that small effect is due to that vs. the lack of clarity of the question?

Also "done" and "employed" is a strange combo of words for the university setting, considering how most of the heavy lifting in university science is done by indentured grad students.

I still think that "scientists" is going to bring up visions of white lab coats to some, and that vision will diminish the impact of "university setting". If you're really trying to elicit a conservative reaction against university professors, I think you have to refrain from calling them scientists. Consider the Stanley Milgram experiment as an example of the white-coat authority figure reaction here.

You might even get a larger impact if you said "tenured university professors". Then, not only do they no longer wear white lab coats, they now have communist party memberships. And if you added "Ivy League", you'd probably get a bullet hole instead of a check mark by that choice.

March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Another point (my wife suggested it, so I can't take credit) is that there might be a Just World bias effect in conservative views of science - as follows.

In cases when scientists are interpreted to something normative like "Do X now, or you'll suffer bad consequences", the Just World bias has a negative impact on conservative views of scientists because this scientific advise implies that merely being who you are (a good person in a Just World) isn't alone enough to prevent future risk - one must instead take proper (possibly short-term detrimental) action to prevent future risk. In other cases where scientists make non-normative contributions to the good of society (such as technology), well then they're just being part of the Just World, hence elicit a positive opinion on the right.

How would this impact the GSS data (still licking that bag?) - it might mean that the answer you get from conservatives about scientists would correlate with which of the above types of "results" comes to mind most easily when the subject is asked about scientists. I suspect "result" will bring to mind non-normative contributions to more people, unless they've been primed to think about normative ones (like climate change and vaccines). The "something" might also do that, as a normative opinion is not a thing. But then there might also be priming effects from previous questions in the survey.

Note that even GMO issues can be framed normatively, such as: "We need to modify genes in crop X, or else we suffer future crop losses due to Y".

On the left, with supposedly much less of a Just World bias, normative output from scientists would be much more welcomed. This difference could be studied by asking two semantically identical GMO questions to left/right partitioned subjects: "Scientists want to modify genes in crop X, because otherwise they foresee future risk Y" vs. "Scientists want to modify genes in crop X to enhance its production".

March 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"In cases when scientists are interpreted to something normative like "Do X now, or you'll suffer bad consequences", the Just World bias has a negative impact on conservative views of scientists because this scientific advise implies that merely being who you are (a good person in a Just World) isn't alone enough to prevent future risk - one must instead take proper (possibly short-term detrimental) action to prevent future risk."

It's an interesting hypothesis - but I'd interpret the Just World bias somewhat differently. The usual interpretation of it is that good actions are ultimately rewarded and evil actions are ultimately punished. People believe that it is in their self-interest to be good, and conversely that if people are seen to be rewarded that their actions were probably the right ones, and if punished the wrong ones. This doesn't require deliberate human intervention to bring about, it's built into the fabric of the way the world works.

So there's no problem with having to take precautions in the Just World interpretation; precautions are good. The issue is over what *sort* of precautions - i.e. are there circumstances where you have to do short term evil to bring about long-term good/rewards? In short, do the ends ever justify the means?

When scientists warn "Do X now or bad consequence Y will follow", it is sometimes used as a policy-advocacy argument to get people to do X now, which may be something that policy-opponents regard as evil. The bias is to assume there is something wrong with the advice purely because it requires one to do evil, rather than on the scientific merits.

For example, some scientists say we urgently need to reduce CO2 emissions, and currently the only effective, economic, scalable, and practical way to do so is to switch to nuclear power. But liberals believe nuclear power is evil, and so reject the advice. Not because they have a technical engineering argument for why the conclusion is wrong (few people know much about the economics of power generation) but because "surely there must be a better way than to let the nuclear genie out of the bottle."

Some scientists say that CO2 has the same effect in the atmosphere whatever its source, so you have to impose the same emission restrictions on the developing world (mainly China and India at the moment, but eventually Africa will be even more critical) as you do on Westerners if climate action is to be effective, which would inevitably condemn the developing world to continuing poverty for many more decades to come. If you don't, then industrial emissions will not reduce, the economic activity will simply shift to China/etc. and carry on as normal. But to cut China off from the same wealth we enjoy would be evil, and so the conclusion is unacceptable. Scientists might well say "it's either the poor or the planet", but they've got to be wrong because that would be unjust.

"On the left, with supposedly much less of a Just World bias, normative output from scientists would be much more welcomed."

It depends what questions you ask. Libertarian economists would argue that the Left has a massive Just World bias, and it is the root source of most of their economic errors. Economists have known for more than a century that inequality is an essential part of the process by which the economy is guided to the wealth-producing optimum that maximally benefits the whole of society (including the poorest), and artificially eliminating it through welfare hurts the people it's supposed to help. But tolerating poverty and inequality is evil and unacceptable, and any economic theory claiming it to be necessary must be wrong - no matter what technical arguments have been made for it. No matter what history shows about the practical effects of those policies. That's why they can tell us with a straight face that Venezuelans are slowly starving not because of the egalitarian economic policies of their socialist government, but because the USA is trying to sabotage them. It couldn't be them; they're good people, with only good intentions.

When you see people claiming that some generic cognitive bias is more prevalent on the left or right, be suspicious. Nobody can see their own cognitive blind spots, only other people's. Because most social scientists are liberal (and it's well worth asking "why?" on that little observation, too), we should predict that social scientists would tend to notice cognitive biases predominantly affecting the right. Big surprise, they do. What conclusion should we draw?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Jonathan -

I'm not convinced that there might not be just a twinge of "just-soing" in your application of how a "just world bias" might play out in this particular circumstance (would you have theorized the same mechanism of implications of a "Just World bias" if you hadn't seen the results of the analysis first?)....but you say:

the Just World bias has a negative impact on conservative views of scientists ....

[...]

On the left, with supposedly much less of a Just World bias,...

Which I'm guessing reflects and established research on a "Just World bias" that displays differences in association with political ideology...

Do you have some links?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I agree with some of the criticism, NiV and Joshua. Mostly though, I think my wife came up with an interesting idea, whether it's filed under Just World or not: that normative-like messages may have different appeal on the political scale. I hadn't considered until then how normative the climate-change messages sound, for instance.

Considering how new the idea is (at least to me), I have nothing to go on but cut-and-paste theorizing plus anecdotes. So, mostly, I'm just offering it up as something that might be worthy of further study. Based on that cut-and-paste theorizing (plus anecdotes), I'd place a slight bet on the right being more averse to normatively-styled messages, especially when those messages criticize culturally accepted behavior, or propose new behavior that breaks from culturally accepted norms. In a sense, isn't this what "conservative" properly means? Recall the William F. Buckley Jr. quote: "A conservative is someone who stands athwart history, yelling Stop". True, it is a question as to whether rank-and-file conservatives even know who Buckley was. But, the "Make America Great Again" slogan does sound somewhat similar, no?

It's seems that most of the big changes in history weren't initially normatively framed - they just piggy-backed on technological changes. Maybe conservativism would be better served if it stood athwart industry, yelling Stop. But I don't think this conservative ideal can be taken too literally - I think it's really about behaviors, their preferred behaviors in particular, and not about innovations. The "Make America Great Again" crowd isn't pining for CRT vacuum-tube TVs with rabbit-ear antennas, or old LaSalles, even if they are singing the theme song from "All in the Family": http://www.lyricsondemand.com/tvthemes/allinthefamilylyrics.html.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan:

Scratching my own itch:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167299025006001

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2044-8309.1989.tb00880.x/abstract


=={ In a sense, isn't this what "conservative" properly means? }==

Sure - but not sure that tells us much about "conservatives" in today's politicized parlance...indeed,consider the libertarian/rightwing talking point about "classic liberalism" vs. "liberals" in today's parlance (which amusingly leads some of my online interlocutors, with great certainty, to call me a authoritarisn/statist, blah, blah).

=={ "Make America Great Again" slogan does sound somewhat similar, no?....

[...]

The "Make America Great Again" crowd isn't pining for CRT vacuum-tube TVs with rabbit-ear antennas }==

True, but the "Make America Great Again" crowd is also the "America First" crowd. I'm not sure that only reflects someone standing on history asking it to stop moving forward in some inchoate, "conservative" manner (not to say you suggested such a universality), exclusive to asking it to move in reverse towards a more specific direction of authoritarianism and social status of bygone days.



Don't forget this:

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

I had seen this before: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0146167299025006001

Also, some papers from John Jost at NYU, with similar conclusions.

That might be why I framed my wife's idea as Just World. But, it's really the antidisestablishmentarianism (USA version) that I was trying to point to (and should have been pointing to).

I'm still betting that Dan can't eek out a general right-side anti-science bias because of the white lab coats (and clipboards) image. Also because some of those GSS questions are too ambiguous, and so accumulate lots of noise. But, if there was a simple unambiguous way in survey question to block out the white lab coat image, what influences would remain? I think there's a shot that this normativity effect would show up, even on issues that have not been thoroughly toxic-memed in public. Maybe enough of an effect such that the necessary toxic memes would then be created in order to outdo the white lab coat image.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

=={ I think there's a shot that this normativity effect would show up, even on issues that have not been thoroughly toxic-memed in public. }==

Maybe. I still have trouble reconciling Dan's findings on no partisan gap in "trust" in science with what I see in the media...but on the other hand, I am inclined to think that I tend to overextend the impact of the media on most people, as opposed to outliers (the ones who give a shit).

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

So here's a dumb question from someone who isn't statistics-, or math-literate:

I notice the shapes of the arches in Dan's last two posts, where the arches describing the data on Cons (in both posts) is taller/with a narrower base than the arches describing the data on the Libz.

Is that likely just coincidence (particularly granted the small sample size)?

Or could that be suggestive of something meaningful, or even something particularly meaningful for the issues being analyzed?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

On a related topic...

Interesting interactive for evaluating Americans' opinions about climate change, including a way to control for "trust climate scientists about global warming" by regional breakdown ...that shows how opinions in aggregate (showing not much variation) don't fully demonstrate the effects of partisanship as associated with region...

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

I think the outlier (give a shit) left is framing the right's reaction as not trusting science, when instead it might just be not liking normative disestablishment messages from anyone, scientists included.

Wasn't there some recent work showing that even climate change danger messages, if couched as nostalgic (back to the good way it was) instead of normative (bad behaviors need changing), are viewed positively on the right?

Maybe it's also the left's view that a normative message is the best way to change behavior. Even though evidence suggests otherwise. Hence, the left is really frustrated when such messages fail, but blames the failure on the audience instead of the messenger.

Oh - and on that climatecommunication link - set it to "Most scientists think global warming is happening" and compare that to "Global warming is happening". What do you think of that?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Gotta say, re: that interactive graphic

The contrasts in the display when you change from:

"Global warming is happening" to "Global warming is mostly caused by human activities" is certainly interesting..

but I think that:

The shift that takes place when you toggle from "Global warming is happening" to "Most scientists think that global warming is happening"

Is kinda spectacular.

Even given some ambiguity in the framing of the questions... like when they answer the first question are all respondents thinking of the same kind of global warming as when they answer the second question (i.e., for the first question are some kind of thinking of any kind of global warming and when they answer the second question they are thinking more of anthropogenic global warming?

But if you think such ambiguities don't explain everything, then how much of the result displays that people think that they, themselves think that global warming is happening despite that they think that most scientists don't agree?

I mean that would be pretty spectacular...unless....of course...when they answer the first question their identity-protective cognition isn't being activated whereas it is with the second question? That seems a bit unlikely to me...as how would any question about "global warming" not stimulate IPC among Americans? And would mentioning "scientists" in the context of a question about global warming really have that much of a differential impact of increasing IPC?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

=={ set it to "Most scientists think global warming is happening" and compare that to "Global warming is happening". What do you think of that? }==

Yeah. See my comment above (that I was writing before seeing your comment).

I always promise myself not to get surprised by data on opinions on climate change, but I have to admit I'm kind of gobsmacked.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

And to top it off, lots of people think that (1) global warming is happening even though (2) they think that most scientists don't agree with them about global warming....and (3) even though they trust climate scientists about global warming?

That is just really, really, hard to fathom.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

=={ I think the outlier (give a shit) left is framing the right's reaction as not trusting science, when instead it might just be not liking normative disestablishment messages from anyone, scientists included. }==

That makes some sense to me. I think that the notion that "the right" "doesn't trust science" is obviously false. The notion that "the right" embraces rhetoric that expresses an underlying distrust of scientists engaged in research on particular topics seems quite likely, although Dan's data suggest that such a broad conclusion may well be unfounded.

I think there's a good chance that the often-found rhetoric does not actually associate very strongly with underlying beliefs.

But if we think that there really is not a gap between rhetoric and underlying views, I am not particularly convinced that "the right" is equally parsimonious in their distrust/ trust in normative messaging across different topics. My guess is that they are just fine with normative messaging on some topics, and not ok with it on others. My guess is that they are OK, with normative messaging from scientists on some topics and not others.

But that is merely my predisposition...as I tend to be skeptical about distinctions in how "the left" and "the right" think, as a default disposition. If only because, it seems to me, the underlying influences in how we think on these issues (primarily human psychology and pattern recognition) are not likely to be distributed in association with political ideology. I"m certainly inclined to think that any differences are more likely to be found intra-group than inter-group.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

I know - I was staring at that climatecommunication graphics, scratching my head.

Maybe what's happening is the beginnings of an opinion change - the right saying that they personally believe in climate change, but the scientists that they trust are telling them not to worry. Or, maybe the right is afraid that their personal opinions denying climate change would be held against them - wasn't there something in the news recently about some prof who suggested legal action against deniers?

Or maybe Yale just sucks at collecting data.

Those and many other, even more otherworldly explanations come to mind.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Joshua,

"I'm certainly inclined to think that any differences are more likely to be found intra-group than inter-group."

That's a left bias! OK - other than the irony in that, I actually think that's the case. We on the left don't like so much the groupism, and so use the old "you'll find more differentiation within a group than between" rationalization a lot. Maybe so with some non-self-selecting groups, like race and sex. But, even with self-selecting opinion-affect-sorted groups?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

=={ But, even with self-selecting opinion-affect-sorted groups? }==

I think so, because I (think) I see very similar kinds of patterns of association between fallacies and opinion-formation across opinion affected groups. And those patterns seem to me to be really strong.

If there really are differences across groups, then they seem to me to be small in comparison.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

=={ Or, maybe the right is afraid that their personal opinions denying climate change would be held against them }==

How would that explain why they think that the climate is changing despite that they think that climate scientists (who they trust) disagree?

=={ Or maybe Yale just sucks at collecting data. }==

It seems to me that it almost has to be an artifact of their methodology.

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

I think the similar patterns are meta-patterns. Obviously, they're all human. And with that comes a legacy of cognitive stuff. But, they're trying to split apart based on something that seems relatively stable. What are the deepest-level such somethings?

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Joshua,

"=={ Or, maybe the right is afraid that their personal opinions denying climate change would be held against them }==

How would that explain why they think that the climate is changing despite that they think that climate scientists (who they trust) disagree?"

They say they believe in climate change (but they don't) to protect themselves, then push off the denial to the scientists, whom they say they still trust (but maybe not really). That way you can't charge them with climate denial or science denial. Just logic denial, which nobody has suggested should be criminalized.

Hey - I never claimed to be any good at creating conspiracy beliefs...

March 25, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"How would that explain why they think that the climate is changing despite that they think that climate scientists (who they trust) disagree?"

"Climate scientists" isn't the same thing as "scientists", and trust in climate scientists to report their results honestly isn't the same as trust in them to be right. We see that 28% think scientists disagree, while 30% either don't know or don't believe the climate is changing.

It may be because the questions are actually longer and more complicated than the brief summary in the interactive graphic.

For example, the options on the "scientists think..." question are:
* Most scientists think global warming is happening,
* There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening,
* Most scientists think global warming is not happening,
* Don’t know enough to say

Is there a lot of disagreement about climate change? I think people might be forgiven for having received that impression... :-)

March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Jonathan -

=={ They say they believe in climate change (but they don't) to protect themselves, then push off the denial to the scientists, whom they say they still trust (but maybe not really). That way you can't charge them with climate denial or science denial. Just logic denial, which nobody has suggested should be criminalized. }==

Ok. That would be a conceivable chain of thinking. And I'm not sure that I'd classify it as illogical, or logic denying.

But I tend to be skeptical about assuming a kind of widespread conscious poor faith on the part of polling respondents. Yes, social desirability bias is a real problem in polling. Yes, there may be some respondents who suspect an "agenda" on the part of pollsters, who they think are ideologically misaligned with themselves, and accordingly craft their answers so as to advance their own agenda.

Could all of that logic be driven by an unconscious mechanism of polling "non-compliance," so to speak, or "contrarianism?" Sure. Or it could be a combination of conscious and unconscious non-compliance/contrarianism...

But while I don't doubt that such pattern exist, I do question the magnitude in which such mechanisms might be in play, and thus the explanatory power.

I tend to see a lot of post-hoc ergo propter hoc rationalizations for polling results that could, theoretically be true, but that lack supporting data in evidence. I think of the widely promoted (pre-election but post-polling post-hoc) theories about why accuracy in polling was supposedly being undermined by a "hidden Trump supporter" cohort which would mean that the nationally representative polling was underestimating his support. I had quite a few exchanges with proponents of those theories, and either they (1) lacked any evidentiary basis for their thinking other than a collection of anecdotes or a willingness to extrapolate and project from their own thinking to the wider public (2) presented "evidence" that seemed weak and flimsy upon closer inspection or (3) lacked any treatment of substantial evidence that undermined their theories. And in the end, the nationally representative polling on Trump's popularity (as expressed in voting) was relatively accurate - despite extremely meaningful error in specific regions that had very significant impact on the balance in the Electoral College.

Despite my belief that some degree of social desirability bias or other problematic aspects of the "external validity" of polling responses (i.e., do the answers really reflect the putative subject of measurement) do exist, I'd guess that most people, when responding to polls on these issues, even with highly polarized issues, are going to answer in ways that reflect what they actually think, not what they'd answer because they are afraid of being judged in a particular way because of a particular answer.

Just my bias, I guess.

March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

NiV and Joshua:

I agree with NiV's point about the choice "There is a lot of disagreement among scientists about whether or not global warming is happening". I think many people will choose this option regardless of other views.

Take a look at the survey questions and choice answers. I'd classify almost all of the answers under "certainty" or "ignorance" - with pretty much only this "There is a lot of disgreement..." answer allowing the expression of some feeling of uncertainty or hedging without expressing outright ignorance.

So, it is possible that this one answer attracted people merely because its the only place they could express this important attitude.

Perhaps the survey would have worked better with uncertain/hedging answers elsewhere. Such as under "Global warming is happening", there could be a "There is not enough data to conclude either way" answer. That works better than "Don't know", because the person doesn't feel like they're labeling themselves as ignorant of what is obviously a widely publicized issue.

Joshua - ignore my attempt at conspiratorial spinning. I don't really think there's a way so many people could align on such a complex behavior. It was more a reaction to how outlandish the data looks.

But, when looking through the answers, I think the uncertainty/hedging forcing many to that one answer is possible.

What that might mean is that the dividing line in the debate is between "It's happening" and "There's no way to be certain right now, but it feels to me like it might be happening".

Note that the "feels to me like it might be happening" part might have a lot to do with transient local weather conditions during survey responses. I'd guess there's still a lot of confusion about the difference between weather and climate.

March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"What that might mean is that the dividing line in the debate is between "It's happening" and "There's no way to be certain right now, but it feels to me like it might be happening"."

That sounds about right. As in:

"As noted in the SAR (IPCC, 1996) and the TAR (IPCC, 2001), unequivocal attribution would require controlled experimentation with the climate system. Since that is not possible, in practice attribution of anthropogenic climate change is understood to mean demonstration that a detected change is ‘consistent with the estimated responses to the given combination of anthropogenic and natural forcing’ and ‘not consistent with alternative, physically plausible explanations of recent climate change that exclude important elements of the given combination of forcings’."

"The approaches used in detection and attribution research described above cannot fully account for all uncertainties, and thus ultimately expert judgement is required to give a calibrated assessment of whether a specific cause is responsible for a given climate change."

https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-1-2.html

"There's no way to be certain right now, but it feels to me like it might be happening" seems like a much more succinct way of putting it! Essentially the same meaning, though. :-)

March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Right, NiV, although one would like to differentiate between:

1. scientific uncertainty due to the Problem of Induction vs.

2. probabilistic uncertainty specific to availability and quality of data on the issue vs.

3. personal uncertainty due to lack of access to/understanding of all relevant data.

Those IPCC quotes sound like 1. Those uncertain in the general public are probably in 3.

Climate scientists that are in 1 (and all good ones should admit they are - no true Scotsman aside) may ardently deny being in either of the other two.

March 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"Those IPCC quotes sound like 1. Those uncertain in the general public are probably in 3."

The IPCC quotes are about 2. There's plenty of mature science around elsewhere for which the uncertainties can be quantified precisely and for which the problem of induction isn't considered an issue - climate science isn't in that category yet. And climate scientists are well aware of it, but they all face Stephen Schneider's dilemma.

Some of the dissentient public are in 2. Some are in 3. Some are in both. (i.e. they've heard that the data and models are bad, but know they don't have the background knowledge to be able to properly judge for themselves.)

"Climate scientists that are in 1 (and all good ones should admit they are - no true Scotsman aside)..."

All good climate scientists would admit they were in 2. They're not all good, though.

In case you've never seen it (although I'm sure by now most people interested in the climate debate will have), here's an entertaining description of the current state of climate science data and software, written by a mainstream climate scientist (albeit not intended for public consumption). Results derived from that database were cited in IPCC reports without caveat, and are still up on the official website. It appears climate science has no problem with this sort of thing, and from that we can deduce the likely state of all the rest of it.

The thing I find most interesting is the people who tell me this sort of thing is normal, unavoidable, and to be expected in cutting-edge research, and don't understand why I'm making a fuss about it. It's an interesting study in culturally motivated perception - people agree on the facts of it but disagree on the normative interpretation. They have a point, up to a point, but it's one that apparently an awful lot of the population aren't aware of. :-)

March 27, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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