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Scientific Literacy vs. Concern Over Climate Change

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the apparently-knowing-is-not-actually-half-the-battle dept.

Earth 545

New submitter gmfeier writes "An interesting study reported in Nature Climate Change indicates that concern over climate change did not correlate with scientific literacy nearly as much as with cultural polarization. Quoting: 'For ordinary citizens, the reward for acquiring greater scientific knowledge and more reliable technical-reasoning capacities is a greater facility to discover and use—or explain away—evidence relating to their groups’ positions. Even if cultural cognition serves the personal interests of individuals, this form of reasoning can have a highly negative impact on collective decision making. What guides individual risk perception, on this account, is not the truth of those beliefs but rather their congruence with individuals’ cultural commitments. As a result, if beliefs about a societal risk such as climate change come to bear meanings congenial to some cultural outlooks but hostile to others, individuals motivated to adopt culturally congruent risk perceptions will fail to converge, or at least fail to converge as rapidly as they should, on scientific information essential to their common interests in health and prosperity. Although it is effectively costless for any individual to form a perception of climate-change risk that is wrong but culturally congenial, it is very harmful to collective welfare for individuals in aggregate to form beliefs this way.'"

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An English translation, for us non-sociologists (5, Informative)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146563)

I'm pretty well educated, and all that jargon gave even me a fucking headache. Here is a much better summary, FTFA:

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. . . .

According to the [authors], 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.

And here's a news-flash for whoever wrote that summary: Terms like "Culturally congruent risk perception" have no obvious meaning for the general reader. Field-specific jargon is just annoying to everyone who doesn't happen to be in your field (i.e., almost everyone else on the planet).

And could you say "culturally" a few more dozen times in your next summary? It really makes you sound smart, and not full of shit at all.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (5, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146609)

Here's the translation: "People are more apt to be influenced by their peers than by science". This is not new; it has been known for decades. The best way to influence someone is to use those around them. This is why you see change.org petitions. The petitions themselves are crap, but if five of your friends send you a petition, you are more likely to think about the subject the same way as your friends.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (4, Interesting)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146833)

Well, the translation of the TFA (as opposed to the bizzarro summary) is that climate models are very difficult to parse and so it's easier to talk about pretty much anything else. Even the culturally congruent lefties don't use modeling much.

Doesn't surprise me. I'm a biologist by training, grew up in the era of quantitative biology and still find the reporting on the models pretty much useless. I don't really have a good feel for exactly how good the models are, how fast they change, what their strong points are, what their weak points are.

I could spend the time to read the literature, except that I really can't. That would involve hundreds of hours of skull sweat that frankly I don't have even if I do have the background to assimilate it. And most people don't have that background.

So, for the vast majority of humans, it does boil down to a leap of faith. I have more faith in dedicated scientists from multiple disciplines and localities working with inadequate, but nonetheless rather powerful, tools and concepts than in governmental / religious / financial institutions with a really narrow financial / social viewpoint.

But that's just me.

Probably wrong argument anyway (4, Insightful)

pr0t0 (216378) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147003)

I've always felt the argument to curb greenhouse gases has been ill-stated. While there are some who still deny global warming is happening, the primary debate between the left and right seems to distill down to whether it is man-made (left) or cyclical (right).

It seems to me the better argument from the left would be: is polluting the air good for you or not? The answer is obviously, no, it's not good for you. So regardless of whether it causes global warming, we should always be striving for less pollutants and cleaner air in much the same way we strive for safer cars. I suppose the global warming aspect helps push the immediacy of the need for change vs. the cost of that change, but so much time, effort, and money has been wasted on both sides arguing the merits of man-made global warming, I wonder if this was the most effective road to go down.

No one is ever going to say how much it would suck if the air near factories or major metropolitan areas smelled as clean and fresh as the air in rural Vermont.

Pollution not a valid argument for the left (1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147157)

It seems to me the better argument from the left would be: is polluting the air good for you or not?

That is the argument for those AGAINST AGW.

The reason being, CO2 is NOT POLLUTION.

That has been my biggest gripe with the AGW movement and the calls to reduce CO2. It has taken a lot of focus away from real pollution, trying to mitigate a substance that is utterly harmless!

If you are really for the environment you should be thinking about what battles actually help, rather than divert.

Re:Pollution not a valid argument for the left (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147443)

CO2 absolutely IS "pollution", in a sense: our atmosphere is supposed to be a balance of various gases: O2, CO2, N2, and some other trace gases. The ratios of those gases is important for life and for maintaining our ecosystem. More CO2 means hotter temperatures due to the greenhouse effect, just like too little O2 means we have trouble breathing. So while CO2 isn't a "toxin" as long as the air you're breathing has the right amount of O2, too much of it causes problems. The question is: how much is too much?

The thing that's really annoying, however, about some of the environmentalists, is their cries for power plants to emit less CO2. I got a petition just like this a couple days ago. Do these people not understand basic chemistry? While too much CO2 is obviously a bad thing, they're talking like you just need to add some "scrubbers" to a power plant and they'll take out the CO2!! Did these people never take a chemistry class in college, or know anything at all about combustion? You can't reduce CO2 output without basically shutting the plant down, and no one is going to accept shutting down all the power plants, or reducing their output and having to put up with rolling blackouts. More nuclear power, however, would allow us to use less fossil-fuel-generated power, but these same people are all against nuclear power too (there's a Slashdot stories a couple stories down from this one today about this).

Re:Pollution not a valid argument for the left (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147559)

The reason being, CO2 is NOT POLLUTION.

Our metabolism produces CO2 as a waste product which we expel from our bodies. Same thing with urine. And while you can drink a little bit of urine and be fine (just look at Bear Grylls), and you can breath a little CO2 and be fine, it's clearly crazy to say that emitting CO2 into the atmosphere is not pollution. What if I peed in a drinking water cistern that feeds your neighborhood? It's only a little, it won't hurt you, therefore it's not pollution. According to you.

Re:Probably wrong argument anyway (3, Insightful)

itsybitsy (149808) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147331)

"is polluting the air good for you or not? The answer is obviously, no,"

Open a biology text book once in a while, you'll find that CO2 is not a pollutant, it is an essential nutrient for plant life.

Re:Probably wrong argument anyway (2)

pegasustonans (589396) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147563)

Open a biology text book once in a while, you'll find that CO2 is not a pollutant, it is an essential nutrient for plant life.

By that logic, oxygen isn't a pollutant either. So, maybe you should breathe 100% oxygen for the rest of your life.

Re:Probably wrong argument anyway (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147335)

There's another debate--whether we can do anything about it at this point, even if it is manmade. The US pollutes a lot, but we've offshored so much of our production that the vast amounts of pollutants are not coming from us anymore. Global warming is a global challenge, and if the US disappeared from the face of the Earth, it wouldn't have much of an effect (whether or not you ascribe to the man-made or cyclical view.)

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147075)

I think you're missing some of the point, then. The story isn't just that scientific education doesn't appear to sway convictions, it's that scientific education also appears to make them more pronounced.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (4, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147299)

That's not what this says at all. Really this has very little to do with influence and everything to do with perspective and values. Basically the results were:

Both populations are concerned when ignorant (leftists somewhat more so), but when more knowledge is obtained the leftists become slightly more concerned, while the rightists become significantly less so.

So unless you're arguing that somehow acquiring more knowledge also acquires and different social influence with an effect larger than that of the knowledge, and one that varies with the individual's left/right perspective, your hypothesis is not only baseless, but actually _debunked_ by this data. Between the left/right groups we see _opposite_ effects for the addition of knowledge: concern increases with knowledge for the leftists and decreases for the rightists. Now, certainly you can make the argument that (as this study seems to be a simple correlation poll, rather than educating the ignorant and measuring change) social influence changes with knowledge. Still, it's a strong stretch to claim that that effect can account this disparity.

What the results actually show is that right wing people and left wing people have different values. When they're ignorant of the facts, all they can go on is the mass media messages of "Oh noes, GW will ${bad things}", and having no real data simply default to "${bad things} = bad so GW is bad" logic. When educated as to the actually process, the risks and costs involved, they can actually evaluate the concerns of global warming against their own values. Given the general psychology of lefts/rights, I find this data entirely unsurprising (with the slight exception of the ignorant rights being "quite concerned" when I'd have expected "somewhat" or "rather").

One other thing that one could take away from this (and perhaps should, and it's the real value here), is that the hype/emergency surrounding global warming isn't _science_ but rather _opinion_. Yes, the data is the data, and there is warming. But the costs? The sacrifices that should be made to prevent it? Opinion. And that people should stop pushing the 'OMG GW' / 'OMG denier' and instead have rational conversations about the real risks and the real costs and what action is actually reasonable.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (-1, Flamebait)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147321)

I'll do you one better:

People who believe in all the climate change bullshit are morons.

People who have dealt with actual science and statistics know the climate is changing as it always has and that the fear mongering and legislation is all greed-driven, political bullshit as usual.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147543)

And your scientific references for your assertion are.... where?

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147611)

Yes, but I still want to breathe clean air and swim in clean water, so what now then?

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (2)

ilguido (1704434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147341)

"People are more apt to be influenced by their peers than by science"

Even scientists, mind you.

Jargon - you don't know what you're talking about (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146623)

I don't know who said it (Richard Feynman, maybe?) , but:

If you can't say it in small words, you don't know what the hell you're talking about.

Re:Jargon - you don't know what you're talking abo (4, Funny)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146657)

Clearly a man who lacks culturally congruent risk perception.

Re:Jargon - you don't know what you're talking abo (2)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146703)

Inconceivable, you must ingeminate.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146685)

So let's put it in plain english:

Political leanings had a bigger influence than their level of education.

There. Simple, to the point, guaranteed to have rooms full of people shaking their finger at the computer screen. Because that's what you get when you simplify. :D

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (5, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146923)

Not quite. They were confirming that point, but that's already been shown. What they showed is that *people with higher levels of education are *more* influenced by their poitical leanings* because they use their additional knowledge to justify those leanings.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146979)

Nice, simple easy to read and wrong. The article says specifically that it was level of education that started to sway some people.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147319)

No, you've oversimplified. Einstein would be unhappy.

What they've found is more interesting - there's an interaction between political leanings and level of education. If your political stance is normally an AGW-skeptical one, more education makes you MORE skeptical. If your political stance is normally AGW-accepting, more education makes you LESS skeptical.

Political affiliation actually changes the sign of the education effect.

You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146705)

Here's a hint, the article is full of opinion and appears to be the very problem that this peer reviewed letter is warning us about. Your first hint should be the slang for psychologists that they use (trick cyclist, psychohistorians, etc). From the Register article:

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.

And you're complaining about "culturally congruent risk perception"? This isn't news. This isn't factual reporting. This is someone framing their interpretation of a scientific letter to try to get you on board with him. I think he's ripping on the academics by way of Asimov's Foundation trilogy.

And here's a news-flash for whoever wrote that summary: Terms like "Culturally congruent risk perception" have no obvious meaning for the general reader.

That's because nearly the entire summary comes directly from a peer reviewed journal made for people who understand that sort of dense speak.

And could you say "culturally" a few more dozen times in your next summary? It really makes you sound smart, and not full of shit at all.

Behold, one of the problems with trying to relay science to the common person.

Re:You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (0, Troll)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146777)

Behold, one of the problems with trying to relay science to the common person.

Psychology/sociology is to science what Dr. Drew is to medicine.

Re:You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147035)

No, Dr Drew actually exists.

Not insightful (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147217)

Psychology at least is science. People do proper experiments with controls and properly defined methodologies, they analyse the results statistically, other people reproduce them, modify them, confirm or deny the results. That is science.

My one time supervisor in psychology, Max Hammerton, once demonstrated to the British Association that "hard science" often is not, with his graph showing how the estimated size of Pluto had decreased with time. The reason is that when it was discovered (a) there was a desire to use it to account for discrepancies in the orbit of Neptune and (b) it was the only planet discovered by an American. So the estimate taken for the published size was at the very top of the estimated range. Subsequent measurements were more accurate and tended to the real value, but because of the pressure of history (and from American astronomers) were also at the top of the estimated range.

It was a neat demonstration (and the subsequent row over the downgrading of Pluto to a dwarf planet still arouses the ire of some astronomers - things have not improved).

Basically this was an early demonstration of the correctness of the article referenced in the story, and of the fact that even "hard" sciences have a lot of fluff in them

Re:You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147537)

So according to you, neurology and cognitive science are bunk?

Re:You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146869)

Interestingly enough, if you want to get a concept through to people then you need to speak to their level of understanding instead of spewing jargon at them. Invariably, when such jargon is spewed at a person they rapidly lose interest in the topic and move on to other things. This is the entire point of the OP: Stop taking the summary from TFA and create one of your own using words that anyone can understand.

Re:You're at the Wrong Place, Friend (4, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147241)

The first paragraph of the letter (after the abstract) almost perfectly identifies the problem, although the authors, being social "scientists", predictably fail to understand the implication: "As members of the public do not know what scientists know, or think the way scientists think, they predictably fail to take climate change as seriously as scientists believe they should."

The same is true of climate change, diet, exercise, privacy, foreign policy, gas mileage, law, and so forth: The general public does not take any of these issues as seriously as specialists in those fields think they should. This is not because the specialists are right, though; it is because the specialists devote their careers to those areas, and as a result have a distorted view of how much concern the average citizen should dedicate to the specialist's area of expertise. If I was as concerned about everything as experts thought I should be, I would spend all day worrying and no time getting anything done. Considering that dynamic (which often results in "rational ignorance" by average citizens), it is not at surprising that individuals look to peer groups or ideological leaders for cues on complicated issues.

(I suspect the authors also have an ideological bone to pick, based on the breakdowns they chose -- why focus on "hierarchical individualists" versus "egalitarian communitarians", and mention the hierarchy/egalitarianism and individualist/communitarian axis results in passing? How many other proxies did they look at before settling on those, and why did they reject other possible proxies? These social scientists might be unduly concerned with their narrative and as a result not take methodology as seriously as statisticians think they should [wink, wink -- I know that social scientists tend to take post-hoc analytic methodology more seriously than many domains because they are short on testably predictive hypotheses].)

FWIW, that quote was not part of my submission (5, Interesting)

gmfeier (1474997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146719)

It just magically appeared. I am no more fond of it than you are.

Re:FWIW, that quote was not part of my submission (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147503)

Hmm, maybe I must keep a closer eye on that soulskill, he seems to have some previously hidden skills in obfuscating the science of the soul :)

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (2)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146755)

Or, in even simpler English, people tend to believe what they want to believe and education doesn't change that, it just means they can rationalize away their own beliefs better. Everyone does this, some people are just more or less subtle about doing so. Note that doesn't mean one side isn't right, but it certainly can mean large portions of one side are right for the wrong reasons. Science is actually rife with those kinds of people, and always has been.

Interesting tidbit: Galileo believed that the tides were caused by and evidence of the motion of the Earth around the sun, and was completely 100% totally wrong (in fact, his arguments were manifestly against the observations). His conclusion was correct, but his "proof" of it was complete and utter bullshit.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146809)

"Culturally congruent risk perception" your opinion is why people still explain what an ip address is when writing about technology.

Field specific lexicon exists in order better explain ideas. If you do not understand something may i suggest googling it?

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146939)

why people still explain what an ip address is when writing about technology.

If they're writing for a general audience, they should. Now you wouldn't need to do that here, because this is slashdot. But this is a technology site, not a sociology site (or whatever the fuck field that term comes from). I wouldn't head over to a popular sociology site and expect them to understand a summary that uses the terminology of object-oriented programming, now would I?

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146877)

What the heck are "hierarchical individualists"? I would've thought that "individualists" wouldn't take naturally to a "hierarchy".

FAIL

So a "hierarchical individualist" is an oxymoron... or maybe just a moron.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147037)

Not to mention it's a pretty offensive idea that all lefties are community-oriented egalitarians and all righties are just selfish hierarchs. Methinks more than a little author bias there.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (2)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147399)

What the heck are "hierarchical individualists"? I would've thought that "individualists" wouldn't take naturally to a "hierarchy". ... So a "hierarchical individualist" is an oxymoron... or maybe just a moron.

I think they mean "Individualist" = libertarian, "hierarchical individualist" = Neocon

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146981)

Terms like "Culturally congruent risk perception" have no obvious meaning for the general reader. Field-specific jargon is just annoying

I did have to think about it for a second, but I don't find that phrase particularly field specific. YMMV

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (4, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147167)

According to the [authors], 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.

So, what it is saying essentially, is that to effectively combat global warming we must educate left-wingers and keep right-wingers in the dark. Encourage the home-schoolers, and tell the god-fearin', gun totin', gay haters that academics really will turn them into a godless, muslim-loving, pot-smoking, tofu-eating, pagan-worshipping, Birkenstocks-wearing, tree-hugging, cross-dressing, PETA-supporting, anti-life, hybrid-car-driving, homosexual, lesbian who reads the New York Times.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

scamper_22 (1073470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147189)

Well they didn't say culturally enough, because so much of our society ignores culture. In reality, culture is extremely dominant in our life.

Where this has been grossly distorted is in the progressive culture; on both the left and right; which seeks to prove their culture correct by claiming the mantle of science.

We ask ourselves what is the 'public good'. Now, everyone has a different definition of the public good. The public good is based on values, whatever they might be. The Islamist thinks the public good is to make the public sphere more Islamic. The egalitarians think reducing income inequality is for the public good. The capitalists, think generating wealth is for the public good. The libertarians think freedom is for the public good.

The progressives have long believed they could avoid these silly public good debates if people just trusted in science. Science will tell us the public good. Evidence-based policy they claim.

Yet, in reality, progressives will rarely subject their core ideas to evidence based policy; nor do they base their public good ideas on scientific policy. Everything stems from values anyways.

The example I often come up against is the idea of healthcare. I'm Canadian and when seeking cures to the funding of our healthcare system, all the progressives I meet sit around saying how we need prevention. Prevention will save us money. Stop people from smoking and being obese. That's the key.

Then when you point out that pretty much all the studies show that most of the healthcare costs occur in old age in the last years of life and that generally speaking, unhealthy people die younger and actually save the healthcare system money, they refuse to believe the available science.

"http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2008/02/05/unhealthy-study.html"

The progressives are at the end of the day just like every other cultural group in society. They have a vague value-based ideology that they try and push on society and attain power.

This makes progressives a very dangerous threat to the scientific community, because they claim the mantle of science as their basis.

Lastly, note... I speak of progressive culture. I don't care what a 'pure progressive' is. I'm sure there are intellectually honest progressives and intellectually honest libertarians and intellectually honest communists...

These academics have created it a forgone conclusion that global warming is such a great threat demanding urgent action beyond almost any other concern. That is their belief in the public good and that is ultimately all that matters. They refuse to balance it with all the other concerns people have in life (healthcare spending, education, freedom, political stability, democracy...)

A bit long... but yes, culture is EVERYTHING. We don't speak about it enough.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (2)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147281)

I'm assuming the submitter quoted that bit from somewhere (it's not the paper abstract). I'm making that assumption because the submitter did something incredibly annoying: he wrote "quoting:" followed by a quote, properly enclosed in quotation marks.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147289)

True, but all that guff had a purpose: to allow the author to say something about a result they clearly didn't like and weren't comfortable with. So they salve their wounded pride with paragraphs of gumph pretending to be insightful.

If the result had instead been that people with high scientific literacy had high levels of concern about climate change (and people with low levels of literacy correspondingly low levels of concern), the author wouldn't have been so windy.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

TopSpin (753) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147409)

We should ask why this story is summarized with sociological mumbo-jumbo. I've been here a while now and I can't recall ever seeing a submission quite like that. This same story has been written in a comprehensible manner by many others. Some examples:

Public Apathy Over Climate Change Unrelated To Scientific Literacy [planetsave.com]
Culture splits climate views, not science smarts [usatoday.com]
Climate skeptics know their stuff [sciencenews.org]

Most everyone else managed to express the central point clearly; the claim that AGW sceptics are comparatively ignorant is false. Yet, here we are at Slashdot with a paragraph full of obtuse weasel words that manages to avoid conveying much of anything.

Perhaps it's just that certain folks aren't happy with the otherwise obvious conclusion and can't bring themselves to expose it. Better to have not posted the story at all.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (2)

VendingMenace (613279) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147421)

Indeed, anytime your noun is composed of four words, you need to go back and re-write the damn thing.

Re:An English translation, for us non-sociologists (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147479)

And could you say "culturally" a few more dozen times in your next summary? It really makes you sound smart, and not full of shit at all.

I've seen that a lot at work. One paper I had to slog through had the word "enumerate" five times in a single paragraph, and not once was the word "count" used. It really makes for boring reading, which is a shame.

well ... (3, Funny)

migloo (671559) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146613)

Or, to put it in more naive terms, people are idiots and democracy is doomed to failure.

Re:well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146693)

That's not more naive, just more concise.

Also, the current western model of government is not a true democracy, but rather a representative democracy, which is quite different. People do not vote for things, they vote for people.

Re:well ... (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147021)

Also, the current western model of government is not a true democracy, but rather a representative democracy, which is quite different. People do not vote for things, they vote for people.

You have one party, the rich guys party, and two competing PR firms with totally different ad campaigns. Oligarchy not representative democracy or democracy.

Technically I do get to vote locally on local govt education bonds, true, although very limited, direct democracy. I'm told some states sometimes have binding referendums, but I've never experienced that.

Also when I was a kid, we had theoretically non political party local judicial elections, which is true representative democracy, but that was done away with a decade or two ago, and in practice the R's shilled for their candidate and the D's shilled for their candidate anyway. There is no longer a representative democracy where I live.

Re:well ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146929)

that's why we fucking win, and you fucking lose. History has proven me correct.

It is about perception, and culture (1)

Xaedalus (1192463) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146663)

At some point, having a disagreement/debate with someone becomes about personal perception and world view. All the truth in the world on your side just won't make a damn bit of difference if the person you're debating/disagreeing with just cannot or will not come around to your point of view. Gay Marriage, Abortion, Climate Change, Conservative/Liberal, at some point it all comes down to one thing: you are facing your polar opposite and you cannot give in because to do so would mean that you are no longer 'right'.

It is at that point that we resort to killing each other.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146741)

You'd be surprised how often you can sway opinion by treating your polar opposite like a human being and genuinely talking to them. Nobody likes a lecture about how wrong they are, no matter how many facts are in that lecture.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (2)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146791)

And exactly one of "Gay Marriage, Abortion, Climate Change, Conservative/Liberal" is a physics problem subject to rigorous empirical validation independent of human opinion.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147233)

Well, yes and no. The right's resistance to climate change is largely motivated by the fact that a lot of the proposed solutions entail things that some elements on the left wanted to do anyway. That's the emotional wellspring that gives rise to all of the denialist rationalizations.

The result is that the left views the right's refusal to acknowledge the science is proof of bad dealing by the right while the right views the science as some sort of Trojan horse for the left. Neither side is really right in this and many other issues.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (1)

hshana (657854) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147245)

Unfortunately, that rigorous empirical validation also told us that the glaciers on the Himalayas would be all melted by 2035... Actually it isn't, but it shows that the zealots on both sides are willing to bend the truth and fudge the details in an attempt to sway the masses. So it isn't natural for the masses to be a bit skeptical? If nothing else, it shows why you should stick to the rigorous empirical part and leave the FUD to the other side.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147463)

And exactly one of "Gay Marriage, Abortion, Climate Change, Conservative/Liberal" is a physics problem subject to rigorous empirical validation independent of human opinion.

True, but people worked out the correct physical parameters, tools, and techniques for extracting unborn fetuses a long time ago.

Re:It is about perception, and culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146835)

Yeah, at first I though the article would be about "I'm not going to believe in climate change because then I can't drive my SUV all over the country, race my boat in circles, or throw away my bottled water in the trash". I don't think a good scientific education on carbon dioxide's affect on heat retention is ever going to trump the soothing effects of American Idol and Dancing with the Stars.

There is too much noise (5, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146737)

The problem is not scientific literacy, bur that you need to be an expert in several fields.

Claims are made from both sides with explanations and theories beyond what most laymen can understand, beyond what even those with a basic scientific literacy can understand.

I consider myself scientifically literate to a basic level and generally have no problem reading studies or extracts to get a basic idea on an issue. The whole climate change thing is impossible though. People make specific claims about carbons, how they bond in the atmosphere, half-lives, tree rings, ice, sea levels...

There is too much stuff being quoted and claimed from both sides, often seemingly backed up.

What we need is a nice, easy summary page, summarizing all the relevant studies so far, and what they imply or mean when it comes to climate page. AN overall summary taking every study into account, giving a good indication, meaning to oppose it is to go against peer reviewed studies or to speculate without a firm basis.

Re:There is too much noise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146959)

You're right, there is too much noise.

That noise was created on purpose, by a bunch of elderly anti-communists who believe that misleading and defrauding the American taxpayer is a patriotic act if it increases the chances of using nuclear force against a bunch of dirty commies. I'm totally not kidding. These people are pro-nuclear power because they feel that increases the likelihood of an American nuclear strike on Communist China, they are pro-warming because they feel that technology is the best path forward to a nuclear strike on Communist China. Seriously, totally not kidding. The activities of these people are pretty well documented in the book "Merchants of Doubt" [merchantsofdoubt.org] by Naomi Oreskes. These people also shape the debate at Wikipedia and here on Slashdot; they employ staff to make posts with titles like "Scientific Literacy .vs. Concern Over Climate Change" (think about the phrasing there, as opposed to what the article is actually about).

You asked for "a nice, easy summary page, summarizing all the relevant studies so far, and what they imply or mean when it comes to climate page. AN overall summary taking every study into account, giving a good indication, meaning to oppose it is to go against peer reviewed studies or to speculate without a firm basis". This has been attempted a dozen times, but every effort will cause the creation of an equally compelling disinformation site.

Re:There is too much noise (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147145)

An Anonymous Coward, making shit up, in a climate change article!?

On MY Slashdot!?

Re:There is too much noise (4, Insightful)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147013)

That summary page is called the IPCC report. Or at least, that is the plan behind it. Good summaries for the generally scientific literate person are also to be found on realclimate.org.

Re:There is too much noise (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147219)

I think that's partly the problem, when one side of the debate is way outside the consensus than an unbiased summary now looks highly partisan.

It's very hard to build a bridge when the opposite shore looks like crazyland.

Re:There is too much noise (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147355)

Unfortunatly IPCC reports are based on the work of Phil Jones from the UK. He has admitted manipulating the data to reach the conclusions he wanted to and after doing that for 20 years was still unable to prove staticatically significant global warming existed. Other scientists wanted to review his work, but instead of complying with FOI requests he delted the original unmanipulated data instead of risking someone else got it.

So when your "simple summary" is based entirely on the research of a known liar and it is completely impossible to double check his work, you may as well use it for toilet paper for all its worth.

AGW may be real, it may not. The IPCC report will never do anything to convince me one way or other. The IPCC has to be taken on faith because there is no scientific process to it or peer reviewed backing for it.

Re:There is too much noise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147079)

You could try Spencer Weart's book / web-site survey [aip.org] . It was written in 2008, so no longer up-to-the-minute, but it's the book that took me from uncertainty about climate change to a reasonably strong belief in it.

Also politics and science get mixed up (5, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147255)

The scientific theory of human caused global warming is that the prime or exclusive cause of the observed warming over the past 100 years, outside of known cycles, is CO2 emissions from humans. Ok, no problem. That is a theory that can be looked at and evaluated, though you are correct it is quite complex to evaluate it.

The problem then comes when it is demanded that you not only accept that, but you accept that the only thing to do about it is to massively reduce CO2 emissions and to do that we need things like cap and trade and so on. If you disagree with any of that you are a "denalist" and "anti-science". They try to act as though the politics and policy of a solution are part and parcel to the theory.

Not even close. You can believe that the theory is correct and disagree with the proposed solution for any number of reasons. However question any part and people want to claim you are anti-science. It really does get like a religious argument: "You accept everything we say or your are the enemy."

Re:There is too much noise (3, Interesting)

Kozz (7764) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147329)

There is too much stuff being quoted and claimed from both sides, often seemingly backed up.

What we need is a nice, easy summary page, summarizing all the relevant studies so far, and what they imply or mean when it comes to climate page. AN overall summary taking every study into account, giving a good indication, meaning to oppose it is to go against peer reviewed studies or to speculate without a firm basis.

THIS! Yes. I'm left-leaning, politically speaking. A very good friend of mine is right-leaning. Though we both have some Libertarian tendencies, we have very different ideas. And we're both college-educated, smart people who enjoy (friendly) battles of wits with one another on a variety of topics, and we are big fans of using facts and truth, not propaganda. It's a rare situation where people with differing political views can have constructive arguments and inform one another and learn (unlike much of American politics).

And yet when he and I come to the climate "debate" (my scare-quotes tell you which side I'm on), we carried it to its logical conclusion which resulted in a war of links backing up our claims. It was almost the equivalent of a schoolyard taunt, "my scientists can beat up your scientists!" because neither of us are specialists in the field. I think we were probably both quite frustrated -- and we actually were interested in getting to the real facts, not just name-calling, generalizations and ad hominems (though we employ those just for fun).

http://megai.cc (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40146779)

http://megai.cc

Politics Education (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146845)

Why are all research papers so freakin' obvious? Even better is the fact that Fox News has been saying climate change is more about political affiliation than it is intelligence for years now.

Bring on the flames!

fail? (4, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146901)

What guides individual risk perception, on this account, is not the truth of those beliefs but rather their congruence with individuals’ cultural commitments.

Here's the fail. What is this "truth" they're measuring against?

Something like F=ma seems to correlate with education, not so much with culture. I would hazard a guess that indicates F=ma is a scientific topic.

Something like Jesus is the son of god and belief in him results in your salvation seems to correlate much higher with culture than with education. For example even the dumbest redneck from Texas and some scientist from Texas might agree, but a highly educated scientist from TX might disagree with a highly educated scientist from Japan from a non-christian Japanese family. I would hazard a guess that indicates Jesus's parentage is a non-scientific topic.

Along comes "concern over climate change" and there is a wishy washy hand wringy that based on observation its getting a non-scientific response from the general public. You can almost see the literary dancing to avoid suggesting that maybe, just maybe, the PC orthodoxy about the dangers of climate change is, in fact, non-scientific?

Now please don't jump all over me assuming I think humans have no effect or climate change could never matter. I am well aware its occurring. However,
1) I don't think its very important relative to other more pressing concerns. Seriously, it just isn't that important.
2) I think there is nothing to do anyway. We've burned at least a majority of the EROEI positive carbon fuels and nothing really bad has happened. Twice not much is still not much. The closely related semi-permanent economic decline we've been experiencing for a few decades, and will continue to experience, will "naturally" take care of the rest. The TLDR is SUVs don't matter not because we passed enviro laws, but because they'll never be affordable to the masses again. By the time the next credit bubble comes around, maybe 70 years or so, we'll be waaaaay past peak oil, etc, it just won't matter anymore.
3) There are bigger natural climate changes that we need an advanced industrialized civilization to fight
4) I hate being FUDed so reflexively that I'll fight against the side using FUD, in this case the orthodox climate panic-ers.

Re:fail? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147311)

Some questions for you, then:

1) I don't think its very important relative to other more pressing concerns. Seriously, it just isn't that important.

How much of an impact does climate change have to have before it will be considered a serious problem? Could you name monetary cost or number of people killed that would make it important enough to do something about?

2) I think there is nothing to do anyway. We've burned at least a majority of the EROEI positive carbon fuels and nothing really bad has happened.

What's your standard for "really bad"? What level of proof would you require to decide that a particular event was caused by climate change? For instance, if climate change was thought by some to be a possible cause of greater hurricane intensity, what kind of evidence would you need supporting this hypothesis to decide that the costs of the more intense hurricane should be considered part of the cost of climate change?

3) There are bigger natural climate changes that we need an advanced industrialized civilization to fight

Source, please?

4) I hate being FUDed so reflexively that I'll fight against the side using FUD, in this case the orthodox climate panic-ers.

That seems like a pretty dumb way of deciding these things.

Concern particularly (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147487)

Someone who is scientifically literate could well look at the evidence and decide that yes, the Earth is getting warmer and yes, human CO2 emissions are the prime cause but that no, it isn't a big deal. Perhaps they come to the conclusion that the warmer temperature will not be a bad thing. Or perhaps they conclude that a massive reduction in emissions is not necessary that a geoengineering project can deal with it.

They may well evaluate the scientific theory of human caused global warming as true, but have no concern over it because further evaluation leads them to believe there is no reason.

Foxy Cherry Picking (1, Troll)

Gallenod (84385) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146953)

And Fox News, of course, pushed a story that only referenced the part of the study that found that climate change "skeptics" scored higher (by one point, 51 to 50) on a test of general scientific literacy, proving once (and for Fox) that the "skeptics" know more about science than climate change "alarmists" and are therefore right to doubt anything related to climate change.

Fox News: the experts at picking the one cherry on the entire tree that satisfies them since 1993.

Re:Foxy Cherry Picking (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146999)

Ah that's okay. Warmists happily ignore anything that doesn't fit their narrative. See how that works?

Re:Foxy Cherry Picking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147089)

Um, yeah, Fox is pretty good at picking out the parts of a story that fit their idealogical spin (but I've seen NPR do the same thing on their website).
However, perhaps this will put to rest all the /.'ers who claim that climate skeptics are idiots who don't know anything about science to rest which I've seen time and time again.
And, no, I'm not one of them. When it hits 90 degrees in NW MI (lower) in the 3rd week of May, that's a sign. I could list other changes in NW MI weather (at least where I live) but I won't.

Re:Foxy Cherry Picking (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147213)

Christ, has Fox News really been around since 1993?

I'm getting old. I remember my Uncle watching that garbage (I thought it was garbage even as a boy), claiming he liked it because it wasn't as biased as CNN. lol

Of course, since then, I have grown to understand that the entire media complex is extremely biased to the point of irrelevancy.

I don't know where to begin (2, Insightful)

Ranger (1783) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146975)

Smarter people are better at justifying their own ignorance. Unless they have critical thinking skills they are better able to cherry pick and fit whatever information they find to support their views rather than derive their views from the big picture. I've met some very smart people who believe weird shit. I myself know that flying commercially is safe, but the monkey in brain is going we're all going to die! and mull over a million different ways a plane could crash.

Anyway, skimming the paper lends neither support for nor contradicts the evidence that humans have caused and are causing the climate to change. It only addresses the likely belief systems of people in their peer groups and how that information can be used to communicate effectively with those groups:

For the ordinary individual, the most consequential effect of his beliefs about climate change is likely to be on his relations with his peers. A hierarchical individualist who expresses anxiety about climate change might well be shunned by his co-workers at an oil refinery in Oklahoma City. A similar fate will probably befall the egalitarian communitarian English professor who reveals to colleagues in Boston that she thinks the scientific consensus on climate change is a hoax.

Re:I don't know where to begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147093)

Smarter people are better at justifying their own ignorance

... to others! If we are concerned about people convincing themselves, which is the case in the article, being smart doesn't make it easier. You should have begun from somewhere else.

Re:I don't know where to begin (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147283)

If the study had shown that it AGW believers were smarter and more scientifically literate, I doubt you would be singing the same "smarter people are better at justifying their ignorance" tune.

Did you ever ask the "smart" people you know WHY they don't like to fly? Maybe they don't like being teabagged by arrogant TSA agents, or they are concerned about doing something wrong and being labelled a terrorist, or being detained for some stupid reason, or maybe they get bad motion sickness. There are plenty of reasons for smart people to refrain from flying. I myself only fly if my destination is more than 12 hours by car, or if required for business reasons.

Re:I don't know where to begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147527)

It only addresses the likely belief systems of people in their peer groups and how that information can be used to communicate effectively with those groups:

Used to manipulate them is more like it. If there was any real evidence the global warming is causing harm to the extent that would justify the 'solution's being proposed, there wouldn't need to be so much effort put into 'communicating effectively'.

The ugly delusions of the educated conservative (1, Interesting)

spiralx (97066) | more than 2 years ago | (#40146995)

Ah, this ties into this article [salon.com] someone posted here earlier, which describes how increasing levels of education make conservatives less likely to believe in factual positions that contradict their world-view. Something which dominates the discussion here in any number of stories that involve economics, psychology, climatology or morality. As much as I enjoy reading the debates these stories engender, it's mostly in a car-crash fashion; the increasingly labyrinthian arguments really do defy any kind of rational explaination.

The rabidly delusional statist (-1, Troll)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147237)

increasing levels of education make conservatives less likely to believe in factual positions that contradict their world-view.

The simplest answer is that people who learn more about how science works question the AGW agenda which early on stopped being science.

Wow, smarter people against having wool pulled over their eyes - who would have suspected THAT?

Meanwhile, the statist/left continue to manufacture the wool, and apply it "liberally" if you will (ha!) to themselves.

Re:The ugly delusions of the educated conservative (2)

tmosley (996283) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147301)

Yeah, you're not biased at all.

Climate Scientists are human too (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147007)

I read this great survey on the "Consensus" (I'm kicking myself cause I can't find the link now). The only point that climate scientist agreed on more than that the climate has warmed due to human influence (at about 85% rather than the 97% oft quoted) was that Climate Scientists should be the ones making all of the policy decisions related to client (this one was abut 97%). These people know next to nothing about economics or any of the other things their policies would affect and yet they overwhelmingly thought they should be making the policy decisions.

It just shows that Climate scientists have human biases.

Article Summary in English (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147019)

Egalitarians perceive climate change as a great risk.
Individualists perceive climate change as a low risk.
Neither groups opinion is affected by their level of scientific literacy.

As someone that has studied science and math (2)

fredrated (639554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147031)

my entire life, all I can say is:
what a waste of time.
No one wants to know the truth.
No one wants to know what reality actually is.

Everyone wants to live in a bubble that confirms what they already believe.

Someone please kill me.

What is wrong with this damn comment system, someone please fix this sack of crap.

Re:As someone that has studied science and math (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147235)

Someone please kill me.

What is wrong with this damn comment system, someone please fix this sack of crap.

That's odd, usually those two statements come in the reversed order.

Re:As someone that has studied science and math (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147269)

Is that so, or is it just a confirmation of what you already believed?

If knowledge about reality makes you want to kill yourself I really don't see a point in believing in a reality outside of the one that exists in my own head.

Put /. in classic mode to help with the damn commenting system.

Obvious result (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147049)

Just another scientific study that simply confirms what everybody already knows is true.

News flash (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147061)

And in today's shocking news: People believe what they want to believe.

Quick question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147195)

How can anything in a journal subtitled Climate Change be considered as objective in the area. I wouldn't expect to open Nature Witchcraft and find an article on how witches are fiction and only the stupid believe in them.

Dear Zirz or Madamz (1)

axlr8or (889713) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147205)

We regret to inform you; Along with the end of Pure Research came an end to being able to have unbiased studies. Please log that in your files of cultural modified views.

Concern=good intentions (0, Flamebait)

bhlowe (1803290) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147207)

"Concern" over the environment is a ridiculous notion on par with "good intentions". The only things important are the proposed "solutions", their costs, and the inevitable unintended consequences. Liberals are always expressing more "concern" towards problems... but their solutions often make things worse. It is not hard to understand why "right wingers" (also known as "taxpayers") are apt to be skeptical of a massive government program to fix myriad climate disasters predicted in the last 30 years that have not happened (including an impending ice age, global warming, massive hurricanes, rising sea levels, polar bears extinction, polar ice melting, etc. ).

The obvious conclusion they are missing (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147273)

If political leanings sway your view the more you know about the science involved, then obviously the subject under discussion is not really a science.

Culturally Congruent Correlation != Causation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147313)

(Not that I understand any of the psychobabble presented in the paper, but it's customary for the first C != C response to a research study to be modded up).

Breaking the link between science and politics (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147337)

In my opinion the real problem is in the way these topics are handled and argued by all concerned.

The science of prediction and the politics of mitigation always appear to be helplessly intertwingled. As a result people tend to respond in a political manner to both scientific and political components.

My recommendation is for scientists and their publications to describe only the changes that could occur. They should never try to suggest a course of action or attempt to describe the consquences of those changes.

Someone else should take these raw inputs and describe consequences these changes could mean to everyone.

Yet someone else (politicians) should take the consequences and figure out what if anything should be done.

Yet in real life we have infamous groups such as the IPCC playing judge jury and executioner complete with sky is/is not falling language.

The scientist who tells everyone to give up their SUVs or die from global warming is subject to endless political attack.

The scientist who just runs models and keeps their traps shut about political issues are only subject to subsantative attacks against the quality of their work.

In practice the distinction may be difficult or simply not worth much...yet nobody even seems to be trying and I think this is a problem.

Should have spent the money on research (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147361)

If the US government wants to change public opinion on climate change, they should have put that money in climate research. Funding some sociologists to prove that people sceptical about human-caused climate change are idiots regardless of their results is exactly why many people distrust science. While politicians like to imagine the masses as a herd of dumb sheep waiting for them to take lead, with education and the internet being available to almost anyone this simply isn't true. What could convince the public would be scientific evidence, which is why it would be a much better strategy to spend money on actual science. Assuming, of course, that the goal is finding the truth and not just pushing a political agenda.

I think I speak for everbody when I say ... (3, Funny)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147449)

What??!?

Climate Change =| Societal Risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40147459)

Climate change has been studied, peer-reviewed and proven beyond doubt on a scientific basis. I am then amused to observe that the same people who have performed this task, advocate massive global interventions on no scientific basis at all.

The best bit, which cuts both ways:

"Although it is effectively costless for any individual to form a perception of climate-change risk that is wrong but culturally congenial, it is very harmful to collective welfare for individuals in aggregate to form beliefs this way."

surprised there is any correlation (1, Insightful)

0111 1110 (518466) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147477)

Most pro-AGW arguments that I have seen are usually appeals to authority or overly simplistic arguments that because CO2 can cause a greenhouse effect then any amount of CO2 increase = armageddon. No matter how infinitesimal the amount. The truth is there is no real scientific argument. The evidence is not sufficiently strong to support the varying conclusions of AGW enthusiasts. So what little evidence that does exist is often not even trotted out. It is so much more convenient to combine argument from authority with ad hominem attacks. "Everyone knows" that AGW is 100% proven. Only an ignorant, anti-science, bible thumper could possibly not see how incontrovertible it is." Even when such enthusiasts claim to offer evidence it is usually just the assertions of another, more authoritative, true believer, whether climate scientist or not, reiterating the same beliefs without evidence. For that tiny minority of AGW enthusiasts who want to convince the rational skeptics who are only skeptics because they haven't examined the raw data you don't need any fancy rhetoric. Just present the data. All of the data that you believe supports your argument. You don't need to even write a single word.

In the end, the argument nearly always boils down to, "Trust us. We know more than you. We are professional climate scientists!" Usually it is not even necessary to mention the existence of computer models. All they have to do is say that they are "climate scientists" and the deniers are not. And then mention evolution and moon-landing skeptics and flat-earthers for good measure. So much better than an argument to just show that in the past skeptics have sometimes been wrong. If only theists found it so easy to dismiss atheists. Not everyone is deterred by the browbeating. Atheists are used to it. It has only been quite recently that we haven't had to worry about being burned at the stake or forced to drink hemlock for not seeing the truth.

It would be interesting to see if AGW enthusiasts are actually more likely to believe in a god or other supernatural, unprovable things. It would also be interesting to see what percentage of "deniers" are in fact some flavor of scientist or engineer themselves. I suspect you would find that the same free thinkers that are atheists because they evaluate facts and truth for themselves and are not influenced by the beliefs of society are more likely to ask for evidence instead of just accepting opinion polls as science. I would have no problem whatsoever accepting the truth of AGW if I were presented with irrefutable scientific evidence. I find the idea that human beings currently have the power to essentially terraform our own planet with relatively great speed (i.e. in less than 10,000 years) to be a rather extraordinary claim, and I believe that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And the evidence for AGW, hell even the evidence just for GW, is far from extraordinary. In fact if climate science were any sort of real science it would be considered quite pathetic. If climate scientists (and I use that term loosely) were any sort of real scientists they would be skeptics themselves instead of true believers just looking to rationalize what they had always believed anyway.

Sad (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40147497)

And once again we have an article that seems to suggest that climate change is in doubt... I don't think you could find anyone in the united states that didn't live on an Amish farm, that wouldn't agree the climate is changing. Hell, even the Amish have probably noticed. What people are disputing is the degree to which humans are impacting that climate change. There is VAST scientific dispute over that point. Authors of articles like these tend to relabel the debate to "climate change deniers" and label people that deny climate change as stupid or uneducated. Well, if you disagree with the idea that the climate is fact changing you are stupid. But that is not the argument.

I personally think the climate is changing due to human activity. And what we are doing is having a dramatic impact on the environment. But can I see someones point when scientist constantly recalculate the rate at which the glaciers are melting? Or year after year predict a terrifying hurricane seasons due to global warming, and it never arrives? Can I understand why someone would doubt climatologists that get their predictions so consistently wrong that there's a whole class of humor that revolves around their ineptitude? Of course. Over and over again I hear people on the left complaining that the right creates scientific studies to suite their needs... why wouldn't they when the left does the same exact thing? This being a great example.
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