Posted By roberta On May 27, 2012 @
10:03 am In Climate Change,Conservation Science,Policy


“The idea seems intuitive: If people just
had a better grasp of science, they would agree that climate change poses a
serious risk to society. But that assumption doesn’t hold up, researchers have
reported in Nature Climate Change. [The polarizing impact of
science literacy and numeracy on perceived climate change risks.]


Instead of making people more concerned
about the issue, scientific literacy makes them more polarized.

The team evaluated two competing
explanations for why some members of the public are unfazed by climate change.
One possible reason is that people don’t have enough scientific knowledge, or
they tend to make quick judgments instead of using analytical reasoning.
Another hypothesis is that people stick to opinions that align with their
social groups’ values.

In other words, “polarization actually
becomes larger, not smaller, as science literacy and numeracy increase,” the
authors write. The team found a similar pattern when they polled people about
the risks of nuclear power. Instead of leading disparate groups toward a
consensus, science and math skills give people “a greater facility to discover
and use—or explain away—evidence relating to their groups’ positions.”

What does this mean for science
communication efforts? Offering clear explanations of scientific data isn’t
enough, the team says. Communicators also need to present information and
policy options in a way that doesn’t clash with their listeners’ values.” Roberta
| 27 May 2012



Sky:  For those of you who have studied human behavior,
I suppose this is not new news.  However,
I find it fascinating. I’ve wondered how just a few, highly paid detractors
have been able to compete with thousands of seasoned scientists over the climate
change issue.  Not only have they
competed, but they have convinced over ½ the western world that “the experts”
are wrong and also have sown deep seeds of doubt: enough to discredit
authoritative statements and lock many in a state of inaction.  Maybe this study partially unravels the
mystery at least, if not going a long way toward explaining it.


Perhaps this is why
speakers on a controversial subject seem successful – they are preaching to the
converted.  Those with ambivalent or
opposing opinions aren’t in attendance. They feel they don’t need to listen
because their minds are made up and they don’t want to be confused with facts.


I guess the “duh”
revelation is that you most probably will not sway people to change their
opinions with facts.  I’m reminded of the
speeches of a lot of politicians.  Heavy
on innuendo and catchy slogans like “I speak for peace” or “Choose the right
way.”  We hear them constantly.  They are effective because they appeal to
people’s cultural biases.