The more an individual voter knew, the more they self-deceived. “Among the least well-informed respondents, neither objective reality nor partisan bias seems to have provided much structure to perceptions of the budget deficit,” they dryly note. “Uninformed Republicans and Democrats were slightly, and about equally, more likely to say that the deficit had increased than that it had decreased.” But travel up the information scale, and the situation dims. Partisan bias exerts its pull. Objective reality does not.
I think that understates the case. People who are especially interested in X, or Y, or AGW or what have you, will seek out confirming information and reject nonconfirming information. In a sense they are “more informed” but they are not “better informed”. But it isn’t partisan bias exercising pull; it’s prejudice exercising push filtering out inconvenient information. (H/T Dano)
This reinforces the point I started this blog with. Most people don’t have the habits of mind of scientists, and even those that do are fallible and need to hang out with other scientists to really filter effectively. We don’t have the scale to do that, so how do we go about convincing people to get things right?
The first top-of-page quote on “In It” was from myself, and “Logical Science” has kindly captured it, along with more respectable opinions far and wide.
Here is what I said. Let me say it again:
It’s easy to refute all the contrarian arguments but that seems to have very little effect on how commonly they are believed. Refuted arguments seem to live on in the public imagination. To bring the public on board to a rational discussion of climate policy needs more than logical argument.
So what should we actually do?
Any useful advice on this matter would be deeply appreciated.