Tuesday, 27 June 2017

You're bright - so you are more likely to get things wrong

Not everything, of course. Just the basic scientific or statistical facts necessary for having informed political views. I'll believe what you say about skin rashes, but not about anything controversial. In fact, I'd be better off finding someone much less bright to tell me the facts about, say, Brexit or global warming.

From the conclusion:

"The reason that citizens remain divided over risks in the face of compelling and widely accessible scientific evidence, this account suggests, is not that that they are insufficiently rational; it is that the that they are too rational in extracting from information on these issues the evidence that matters most for them in their everyday lives. In an environment in which positions on particular policy-relevant facts become widely understood as symbols of individuals’ membership in and loyalty to opposing cultural groups, it will promote people’s individual interests to attend to evidence about those facts in a manner that reliably conforms their beliefs to the ones that predominate in the groups they are members of. Indeed, the tendency to process information in this fashion will be strongest among individuals who display the reasoning capacities most strongly associated with science comprehension. Thus, improving public understanding of science and propagating critical reasoning skills—while immensely important, both intrinsically and practically (Dewey 1910)—cannot be expected to dissipate persistent public conflict over decision-relevant science."

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