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Guest Thinkers

Changing Climate Skeptics’ Minds

How do you get your point across over an issue as contentious as climate change? As a hearing in the U.S. Congress last week showed, the evidence alone is not enough.

A researcher at Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project, Dan Kahan has demonstrated that explaining the scientific processes behind contentious issues only drives opposing sides further from each other. “Kahan grades people on two scales of cultural belief: individualists versus communitarians, based on the different importance people attach to the public good when balanced against individual rights; and hierarchists versus egalitarians, based on their views on the stratification of society. People’s views on contentious scientific issues tend to reflect their position on these scales. For example, egalitarian-communitarians tend to accept the evidence that climate change is a threat, while hierarchical-individualists reject it.”


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