Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Why You Can't Cure a Plague of Olbermanns With An Infusion of O'Reillys

A new study suggests that lefties and right-wingers both accept only the pieces of science that support their values.

Why You Can't Cure a Plague of Olbermanns With An Infusion of O'Reillys

Do left-leaning social sciences need an influx of conservatives to open their collective minds? So argues Jon Haidt, but I wonder. As I read this study in this month's Journal of Risk Research, adding another ideology to social psychology would more likely lead to a lot of pointless yelling and a split into hostile camps. That's because, as this research suggests, lefties and right-wingers both accept only the pieces of science that support their values.


Dan Kahan at Yale Law School, along with Donald Braman and Hank Jenkins-Smith, mapped how this works in a series of ingenious experiments around a sensible question: When there is a genuine scientific consensus on some topic, why do people simultaneously (a) say they believe in science and (b) continue to disagree about the facts?

To examine this, the researchers showed people the photos and credentials of various fictional scientific experts and described their views of various hot-button topics.

Firearms was one. If a state's laws permit most anyone to carry a concealed gun, liberals are likely to say that this will cause a rise in the crime rate, as people blast away at one another. Conservatives are likely to say it will cause a decrease in crime, as citizens will have the means to defend themselves.

Kahan and his colleagues worked out a way to sort out people according to basic values, which correspond pretty well to American conventions about who is left-leaning (egalitarian and communal values) and who inclines to the right (hierarchical and individualistic). When they gave their leftish volunteers some writing that showed "Prof. James Williams" had found that "concealed-carry" laws lead to violence, 80 percent of the liberals agreed that Williams was a trustworthy expert, whose book they'd recommend. When other lefties read a different passage in which "Williams" concluded that these laws decrease crime, half of them said he wasn't trustworthy. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of conservatives who read that passage endorsed the sound expertise of the learned Dr. Williams.

Gun policy is a particularly nice test for ideological effects because, Kahan says, neither side is correct: According to a National Research Council review in 2004, "concealed carry" laws don't have much effect on crime in either direction—they don't increase it, and they don't reduce it.

This (the published study is behind an insane paywall, but you can read a very complete draft in pdf form here), like Kahan's other interesting work on "sacred values" and science, have a pretty clear implication: right-wing ideology isn't a cure for the left's. Rather than introducing more "sacred values" into the conversation, social science might be better off inculcating something different—skepticism about all sacred values, Red, Blue, Green or any other flavor.

Kahan, D., Jenkins-Smith, H., & Braman, D. (2011). Cultural cognition of scientific consensus Journal of Risk Research, 14 (2), 147-174 DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2010.511246

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Yale scientists restore cellular function in 32 dead pig brains

Researchers hope the technology will further our understanding of the brain, but lawmakers may not be ready for the ethical challenges.

Still from John Stephenson's 1999 rendition of Animal Farm.
Surprising Science
  • Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine successfully restored some functions to pig brains that had been dead for hours.
  • They hope the technology will advance our understanding of the brain, potentially developing new treatments for debilitating diseases and disorders.
  • The research raises many ethical questions and puts to the test our current understanding of death.
Keep reading Show less

Face mask study reveals worst material for blocking COVID-19

A study published Friday tested how well 14 commonly available face masks blocked the emission of respiratory droplets as people were speaking.

Fischer et al.
Coronavirus
  • The study tested the efficacy of popular types of face masks, including N95 respirators, bandanas, cotton-polypropylene masks, gaiters, and others.
  • The results showed that N95 respirators were most effective, while wearing a neck fleece (aka gaiter) actually produced more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.
  • Certain types of homemade masks seem to be effective at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

You want to stop child abuse? Here's how you can actually help.

Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.

Photo: Atjanan Charoensiri / Shutterstock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
  • Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
  • Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Keep reading Show less
Strange Maps

Here’s a map of Mars with as much water as Earth

A 71% wet Mars would have two major land masses and one giant 'Medimartian Sea.'

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast