A good psychological analysis ought to be (at least somewhat) robust to where the truth lies regarding disputed scientific pronouncements. Whether these eventually turn out to be right or not, psychological effects can occur independently of real-world constraints, potentially for several generations while once nascent science spreads to mature and accepted science, or alternatively withers in the face of better theories. Yet I think Dan’s interpretation completely falls apart if one does not pin the Dem/Libs to an absolute correctness. By this act he has effectively ruled out the (genuine) uncertainty that is providing the platform for the potentially amplified cultural positions of both political camps. I happen to believe that by virtue of alliance to CAGW culture, i.e. the culture of belief in the certainty of catastrophe, the science aware Dem/Lib pole is far more culturally driven than the equivalent Rep/Con pole. But to some extent the truth can float in my analysis, certainly from an outcome of the Consensus ending up dead wrong, to the position of the Luke-warmers and somewhat beyond; this just means different strengths of bias have arisen as culture has outstripped science.
Essentially the culture of the certainty of catastrophe that was triggered by CO2 worry, has long ago outstripped the constraints of current science. Hence its psychological influence shows now, whatever degree of veracity eventually turns out to be present within those worries, from none to significant to an increasingly unlikely major percentage. And so we come to the generic, to the underlying flaw in Dan’s investigation. Not acknowledging the strong cultural nature of the Consensus will result in seeing apparent behaviors from the data that seem peculiar to say the least, including Dan’s highly unlikely proposal of ‘dualism’. Further, not acknowledging that despite an alliance with the left (stronger in some countries than in others) this culture has its own independent drivers, which have not grown out of the left / right spectrum, will create still more apparent oddities. This culture will serve its own interests and will flirt or spat with all other major players, e.g. religions, if any advantage can be gained, or indeed even with the political right (in which it has some dedicated adherents even in the US) if in some country or period this move offers a better deal than that with the left. The UK Conservative prime minister’s promise of ‘the greenest government ever’ is a real example; a deal that helped him get into power and then benefited climate culture in return.
An unrecognized cultural dimension explains puzzles raised in many of Dan’s comments. For instance in reply to ‘Evan’, Dan says: ‘Therefore I wouldn’t infer from polarization on any particular issues that it is one on which the evidence is unclear. On the contrary, I’d conclude that if the issue has that quality, then an inordinately high number of people will continue to think the evidence is unclear no matter what.’ Well if a strong culture is not involved, of course! But this is exactly what strong cultures do best, they maintain enforced consensuses about the unclear and the unknowable. And because Dan himself is influenced by this culture that is enforcing a consensus, then his inferences (via weighted instruments and biased analysis) are affected by the (same) cultural bias as in the (orthodox) scientists.
In other text below that led from a DK1 comment, Dan says: ‘But I don’t see skeptics grappling in the earnest—even obsessive, anxious—way that climate-change policy advocates are with the task of how to promote better public understanding. That seems weird to me. After all, there is a symmetry in the position of “believers” and “skeptics” in this regard. They disagree about what conclusion the best scientific evidence on climate change supports, obviously. But they both have to confront that approximately 50% of the U.S. public disagrees with their position on that.’ This is not weird at all! It is the strong climate culture that fosters anxious and obsessive behavior, as many insistent cultures do. Those who are not (or who are much less) influenced by this culture, will overall exhibit much less of these behaviors. Nor are the positions really symmetrical in regard of climate culture; an apparent rough symmetry on core questions that challenge identity is an artifact of the big Dem/Libs alliance. In truth climate culture has a very long way to go indeed to become invulnerable and dominant in the US; the alliance could let it down at any time. This is very likely to result in anxiety from its cultural adherents. And promoting ‘better public understanding’, especially when conducted through deliberately emotive campaigns (see AW2), is usually tantamount to promoting climate culture rather than promoting science. Those outside of a culture do not communally and systemically try to project their anxieties, like these Ozzie environmental scientists and their Scared Scientists colleagues do.
And recall Dan’s comment from above: ‘The puzzle — if there is one– is a consequence of the thing to be explained being the opposite of what one would have expected.’ By which he means that he would have expected the Rep/Cons to become less polarized as their science awareness rises, not more so. Yet with a strong (climate) culture in play, one expects more polarization with more awareness. The more aware on one side are drawn into defense of cultural orthodoxy; the more aware on the other side have better ammunition with which to oppose orthodoxy. The Dem/Libs are on the side of orthodoxy, which may or may not be shown (when cultural bonds are eventually shrugged off and true science returns) to hold some truths, yet whose currently enforced ‘truths’ are more a narrative / social feature than a scientific one.
The climate psychologists make complex twists and turns in order to avoid looking at rampant bias effects in the Consensus. Regarding what should be happening, Judith Curry is once more right on the money. She says in DK1 comments (in reply to Evan): ‘Bingo Evan… Claiming a scientific consensus with extremely likely confidence level seems ludicrous, given these ambiguities and uncertainties. Dan should focus some effort to understand exactly why so many scientists actually believe this (i.e. what are they thinking and how are they thinking).’ In practice this kind of belief has been rather well understood by overlapping disciplines (including psychology and cultural evolution) essentially for decades. But the climate psychologists are all embedded in the climate culture, which blinds good cops and bad cops alike. In Dan’s case it seems rather ironic that a failure to even consider the effects of a strong (climate) culture, should occur within the online investigation at a site called ‘the cultural cognition project’. And not only is climate culture obvious, it is also self-admitted (see AW2, including the Appendix).
There is no big puzzle in Dan’s data. The effects shaping the climate culture are not at all unusual and frequently occur across whole societies or major portions thereof. Some of these (cognitive bias) effects as detailed in literature from Lewandowsky and colleagues (mainstream stuff largely prior to his very controversial and contested conspiracy ideation papers), are discussed with respect to the Consensus in AW1 to AW3. Considering the authors, this literature cannot possible be subject to skeptic bias.
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