Skip to comments.The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate
Posted on 06/04/2012 9:22:37 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
A US government-funded survey has found that Americans with higher levels of scientific and mathematical knowledge are more sceptical regarding the dangers of climate change than their more poorly educated fellow citizens.
The results of the survey are especially remarkable as it was plainly not intended to show any such thing: Rather, the researchers and trick-cyclists who carried it out were doing so from the position that the "scientific consensus" (carbon-driven global warming is ongoing and extremely dangerous) is a settled fact, and the priority is now to find some way of getting US voters to believe in the need for urgent, immediate and massive action to reduce CO2 emissions.
A theory exists among some psychologists, sociologists and other soft "scientists" that it should be possible to convince the ordinary citizenry to accept the various huge costs advocated by environmentalists, by simply raising the level of scientific knowledge and numeracy. People would then be able to understand that there is a terrible danger facing the human race and so would support action to address it. Certainly it appears to be a fact that very few people in the general public or indeed, in various architecture and industrial-design faculties have enough basic physics and numeracy to join the debate at all (as the recent rash of human-powered "crowd farm" generator projects illustrates all too plainly).
Thus, in a just-published US National Science Foundation-funded study, participants' science knowledge and numeracy was tested and compared with levels of concern regarding climate change. The soft-studies profs were amazed, however, to find that as one moves up the scale of science knowledge and numeracy, people become more sceptical, not less.
According to the profs, this is not because the idea of imminent carbon-driven catastrophe is perhaps a bit scientifically suspect. Rather it is because people classed as "egalitarian communitarians" (roughly speaking, left-wingers) are always highly concerned about climate change, and become slightly more so as they acquire more science and numeracy. Unfortunately, however, "hierarchical individualists" (basically, right-wingers) are quite concerned about climate change when they're ignorant: but if they have any scientific, mathematic or technical education this causes them to become strongly sceptical.
As scientific/tech knowledge and numeracy appears to be more common among "hierarchical individualists" than among "egalitarian communitarians", this meant that in the sample as a whole the effect of more scientific knowledge and numeracy was to increase scepticism.
Given that the profs had assumed from the start that scepticism is wrong, this forced them to the conclusion that simply teaching people more science and giving them more facts and numbers is not a good idea as it will lead them into bad (sceptical) decisions. They write:
This form of reasoning can have a highly negative impact on collective decision making ... it is very harmful to collective welfare for individuals in aggregate to form beliefs this way.
One aim of science communication, we submit, should be to dispel this tragedy ... A communication strategy that focuses only on transmission of sound scientific information, our results suggest, is unlikely to do that. As worthwhile as it would be, simply improving the clarity of scientific information will not dispel public conflict ...
Thus it is, according to the assembled profs, that the US government should seek to fund a communication strategy on climate change which is not focused on sound scientific information.
It does not follow, however, that nothing can be done ... Effective strategies include use of culturally diverse communicators, whose affinity with different communities enhances their credibility, and information-framing techniques that invest policy solutions with resonances congenial to diverse groups. Perfecting such techniques through a new science of science communication is a public good of singular importance.
There's something of a push developing in psychology, sociology and other soft-science departments worldwide for this "new science of communicating science", which is supposed to galvanise the electorates of the developed world into demanding serious action against carbon emissions and acceptance of the serious sacrifices this would mean. We've compared this idea before to Isaac Asimov's science-fictional notion of the discipline of "Psychohistory" - a set of methods which could be used to manipulate populations on a large scale*.
This might be seen from an egalitarian communitarian viewpoint as a good thing, simply changing people's beliefs for the manifest collective good.
Your hierarchical individualist, however, might sneer cynically first at the prospect of a shower of trick-cyclists managing to change his or her mind on climate change by means of spin rather than hard numbers. The hierarchical individualist might also view the "science of communicating science" push as a rather ignoble attempt by the soft-studies profs to get a share of the climate change research funding bonanza that has poured into the hard science and biology faculties in recent decades.
And anyone at all might be rather alarmed, perhaps, at the prospect of actual success in the matter of developing a working discipline of Psychohistory which could and would surely be used in other areas than climate change policy, and would surely be a threat to democracy if it worked as advertised.
For all that there's no serious likelihood of the soft-studies profs genuinely managing to pump up climate fear successfully where legions of activists and climatologists before them have failed, US taxpayers of every political stripe might very well quarrel with the idea of spending their science budget with the aim of placing enormous political power in the hands of the trick-cyclist community.
The new study is published by Nature Climate Change here. ®
*Though in the Foundation saga this was only possible with vast galactic populations of the far future, with humans as numerous as gas molecules in a pressure vessel, and even then it was necessary to keep the existence of Psychohistory a secret.
Did they ever let Costner put his machine in the water? (actually not his invention he was just an investor) I recall that when he first showed up the FedMob put roadblock after roadblock in his way even though he was going to pay for the whole thing. Just like the FedMob rejected a fleet of the world's most effective oil skimmers from Europe because they didn't belong to a U.S. union. (the Netherlands specifically IIRC)
So the folks who deal in real projects with physically demonstrable results don't believe the charlatans who are blowing smoke with theories having little connection to reality. I can buy that!
Sea levels began to rise 18k years ago at the end of the last glacial period. They have risen about 135 meters since then which is an average of 7.5 millimeters per year. That is an average of 750 mm per century (29.5 inches) which is far more than the average over the last century.
By jove I think you’ve got it! ;^)
Our goobermint’s answer to this will to be:
deny grants,loans or scholarships for hard sciences students and increase those for women’s studies students.
Back later to study the charts.....thanks.
I’m sure you’ve seen them a hundred times. Just some basic temp and sea level history. Which makes the idea of runaway temps and catastrophic sea level rise look ridiculous but nothing new or extraordinary.
Didn’t Al Gore get a ‘D’ in the only science class he took?
Thanks for that.....may need to do a thread for the Californians ....course the powers here are rapidly changing from GW to say CO2 is instrumental in pollution...there is a thread on what the California Air Resources Board is doing propaganda wise.
Last Sunday, The Washington Post reproduced Mr. Gore’s Harvard transcript as well as his grades and scores at the elite St. Albans high school and later at Vanderbilt University’s divinity and law schools. In a word, the transcripts reveal that Mr. Gore’s post-secondary academic performance was rather dismal, particularly in the field of science.
In introductory economics, the only economics course Mr. Gore ever took, he received a C-
As a Harvard sophomore, scholar Al “earned” a D in Natural Sciences 6 in a course presciently named “Man’s Place in Nature.” That was the year he evidently spent more time smoking cannabis than studying its place among other plants within the ecosystem. His senior year, Mr. Gore received a C+ in Natural Sciences 118.
At Vanderbilt divinity school, Mr. Gore took a course in theology and natural science. The assigned readings included the apocalyptic, and widely discredited “Limits to Growth,” which formed much of the foundation for “Earth in the Balance.” It is said that Mr. Gore failed to hand in his book report on time. Thus, his incomplete grade turned into an F, one of five Fs Mr. Gore received at divinity school, which may well be a worldwide record.
In ... “Inventing Al Gore,” Newsweek correspondent Bill Turque writes that Mr. Gore’s “moribund academic career suddenly gained new energy and direction” at the beginning of his junior year in the fall of 1967. “The English student who plodded through Chaucer and pulled a string of Cs started getting As and Bs, and his academic program began to look more like a preparation for public life.” But as Mr. Turque also notes, it was at the beginning of Mr. Gore’s junior year that “the [Vietnam] War’s shadow lengthened.”
This is when grade inflation really took off. Not only had the Johnson administration announced an end to graduate school deferments, but the U.S. military presence in Vietnam had dramatically increased, reaching nearly 500,000 troops compared to 23,000 in early 1965. Flunking out of undergraduate school meant a visit to the local draft board. Rabidly anti-war professors, who dominated political science faculties across the nation, began handing out Cs for breathing, thus ratcheting-up the entire grading scale. This surely explains part of Mr. Gore’s academic improvement.
Mr. Gore’s high point of academic achievement at Harvard was his 99-page senior thesis, “The Impact of Television on the Conduct of the Presidency, 1947-1969,” which so impressed his father, then a liberal senator from Tennessee whom voters ousted from office the next year, that he sent it to the Nixon White House.
Presciently and ironically, in his thesis Mr. Gore used as his case study the evolution of the presidential news conference. ... Why prescient and ironic? Because Mr. Gore seems to have learned nothing from his own thesis. Recall the news conference disaster over which he presided when he attempted to legitimize his fund-raising calls from his White House office by declaring not once, but seven times that “no controlling legal authority” had barred him from making those calls. Then again, what would one expect from a law school drop-out who once achieved a D-level grade of 69 in Civil Procedure II?
To be fair, I believe Mister Gore has since read and absorbed several articles about global warming “science” posted on Wikipedia.
Divinity school must be very forgiving....
Thanks for his profile.
The intention of the study was not, in fact, to measure the relationship between mathematical and logical ability and a conviction that AGW is truth, it was to produce a document that is designed to suppress dissent on the topic by implying that dissenters are less intelligent than true believers. It failed because the only science in it wouldn't cooperate.
It also failed because those who are relatively numerate recognize this affair for the con game it is and tend to be less swayed by "consensus" in the non-consensual mechanism that is science. One and one is not three no matter how earnestly the rhetoricians insist that it would be beneficial to society to pretend that it is, and the skeptic may well be ridiculed for insisting otherwise but he will not be wrong.
“I dont do paper”
If you believe that CO2 is a problem, then there is a good argument that paper and such should be buried in landfills, thereby sequestering the carbon it contains. Of course, in reality recycling is not as much about conserving resources as it is about performing a daily ritual which affirms deep green environmentalism. In short, brainwashing.
Same with “bio degradable” bottles. They don’t degrade b/c they need sunlight to do so.
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