Who is Who

  1. In Figure 1, while the polarization is marked, the lower slope (of the more religious who believe more emphatically in creationism when science educated), is shallow compared to the diverging slope for the less religious participants. It’s likely that this is because religion is largely ‘received’ knowledge rather than formally learned knowledge; it has been around so long and is so entrenched that people are raised with its main principles. Hence there is less to discover regarding those principles when higher education (in science or generally) begins. In contrast the principles of evolution still have to be formally learned from scratch by most folks, who thus experience a bigger leap in new knowledge (and resulting attitudes) during higher education.

Climate change culture is very new (in generational terms) and is not a ‘received’ culture. Thus the slopes of both lines in the equivalent chart for climate change (Figure 5), are similarly steep. Both the paths to orthodox and skeptic knowledge are real journeys of education performed by adults or older youths; only a small % of people would currently be raised on the principles of calamitous climate culture, though this will grow if the culture continues to penetrate society, and for instance be taught during early schooling. Similar slopes but less emphatic are observed for higher education generally, rather than just in science.

Polarization will typically mean that more education will not overall come out as the most critical factor in determining support for or against a CD position. But it depends on the net movement when the two opposing slopes are combined, which will also depend on the number of people in each camp. In the US creationism debate, the net movement with higher education favors support for evolution (steeper slope and more younger people have initial leanings that way). Thus simple polls reflect this, but they miss the underlying subtlety of polarization. The situation for climate change is more balanced, yet polls report a slight net movement towards skepticism with increasing education, which is also reflected in the higher educated Independents (the least partisan of all US voters, so subject to the least party political influence; their net skepticism cannot be due to entrenched Rep/Con identity).

2. Religious Americans are overwhelmingly Christian. But as the detailed political-religious coalition map below (from Brookings / PRRI 2012) also shows, the simple overall picture in Figure 2 of the main post hides many complexities beneath. These don’t affect the first level analysis of the robot from Mars, but they certainly demonstrate that cultural coalitions are not black and white and rarely stop at an alliance of two. Cultural coalitions are generally strings linking many shades of grey through different domains, which also dynamically shift when strengthening relationships in one domain weaken bonds in another; the whole effect a kind of wriggling dance of competition and co-operation with other such strings. Religion is very old and entrenched, indeed pre-dating the political parties by a very long time, and contains various branches soWiWFNfigme of which buck the main trend in Figure 2 by having majority Democrat support. These include Hispanic Catholics for instance, and Jews in the ‘non-Christian religious’, which however are both minorities in the US population so get subsumed in the overall religious majority of the Republicans. The strings connecting (multiple) race and (multiple) religious groups and politics, and indeed the culture of climate change, are revealed in maps like this (also see 3 below).

  1. Read 2 above. And from PRRI 2014, 43% of Hispanic Catholics are very concerned about climate change, but only 17% of White Catholics.
  2. There are some generic expectations regarding the Pew 2015 blue squares charts featured in the main post. One would not expect the categories at the centre, gender and education, to have the strongest influence regarding support or resistance for a core cultural narrative that has penetrated much of society. Gender can be a strong influence in particular narrow topic domains, but theoretically not wider (although having said that, it crops up in both creationism and climate change, I don’t know why). The polarizing effects of a major culture on the higher educated, per footnote 1 above, may prevent this being a top influencer too. Race is typically tied to culture and hence may score higher, either via direct influence or cultural coalition, and age is a powerful influencer because on average older folks tend to defend existing culture against newer ideas (whether those are also CD, or ED), which the young on average promote. And the outer categories essentially are mainline cultures; so where religion or politics is the heart of the issue, they will dominate, plus they may also score high via a strong cultural coalition. The robot from Mars ought to suspect the cultural nature of the outer categories straight away in fact, because they are apparently unrelated to physical characteristics like age, race or gender, and the formal education system.

For an issue that is (largely) not driven by culture, one would expect education to be the strongest influencer, because this is what, theoretically at least, sorts ED from NED positions. In practice it may not achieve this in the shorter term; the knowledge system behind education is fallible and it can also be diverted by emotive memes which, nevertheless, may not be ones that are integrated into a major culture.

  1. The sheer age of Christianity is a huge and obvious extra clue confirming the section 4 conclusion regarding creationism, a clue which the robot from Mars could easily have acquired. Christianity was birthed many generations ago when much less sophisticated societies were typically dominated by entrenched cultures, and critically, at a time before the scientific method was properly established and before society systemically supported science. Christianity is thus far more likely to be CD. But this easy means of identification is not available for young cultures whether secular or religious, and so cannot be used in generic probing for such (potential) cultures. Hence I had our robot avoid this clue.
  2. While the basic search of the robot from Mars would not find evidence of a culture of atheism in the US, we can see sparks of potential atheist culture that may or may not blossom one day. The provocative stance of Dawkins and others against religion is emotive rather than reasoned, and those who presume the religious to be deluded, with the implication of mental illness, are wrong by definition considering that the vast majority of humans are religious. Not so long ago, essentially all humans were religious. It’s also the case that globally, some atheist regimes (e.g. the Soviet regime) have sought to eliminate religion by aggressive means that essentially encompass cultural behavior.
  3. I introduced 2D cultural maps (climate change culture / political culture) first in this Climate Etc post, please reference for further details. The percentages marked vary considerably depending on the survey organization and precise phrasing of questions and the context with other questions and year taken, etc. However for surveys within 2 or 3 years of each other, the basic shapes and slopes are always similar (for any single survey, the figures tend to move together[ish]). The top left percentage can go down close to 20% and the bottom left can be above 80%. Even picking those surveys / survey pairs that don’t seem to be outliers, the Democrats merely in alliance with climate culture can sometimes considerably outnumber the true adherents. The Republican figures also vary. For each survey set I’ve bothered to map though, the slopes are always in the same direction and the middle stripe is always wider at the Democrat end.
  4. At this stage, our robot has assumed that science is a pure endeavor (largely) without its own cultural dimension. Yet although it isn’t enough to upset the first analysis, science has most certainly picked up a significant social baggage in recent times. The kudos of scientists and the authority attached to their pronouncements has led to various emotive reactions both inside science and in wider society, reactions that are morphing to entrenched behaviors, i.e. tangled into culture. This hinders the mission of science. On the second analysis and specifically for the climate change domain, the robot does perceive a cultural diverting of science.
  5. ‘Convenient belief’ linked downwards in a chart like Figure 6 would be picked up as respondents who profess skepticism regarding CAGW, but when questioned in a way that does not invoke identity, do not hold true to this skepticism and reveal that they’re not really skeptical at all. Kahan claims to have found people who behave in this manner, with some US farmers put forward as a model case. See his Kentucky Farmer post at Cultural Cognition. However, as several commenters (including myself) have pointed out, the main paper cited in the post does not appear to support his conclusion. See my objections at the top of the second comments page, February 6, 2015.

There’s some further exchange on the Kentucky Farmer here, where Kahan says: ‘But I would not expect anyone to treat the evidence I have adverted to as reason to adjust their priors if they have different ones from mine. If I have am able to attain evidence of that sort, I will make it known (and make known in *what direction* I think priors should be adjusted…’. Well that’s fair enough.

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