Depolarizing Climate Science

Depolarizing Climate Science

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A study out at the end of May attempts to probe why attitudes on climate risks by some segments of the public don’t track the science all that well. Along the way, it basically debunks one simplistic assumption: that climate skeptics, for want of a better term, just don’t understand the data — or perhaps even science. Quite the contrary: In the new survey, the most science literate skeptics were also those individuals who were most likely to dig in their heels and reject a consensus view on climate risks.

So, what sets climate issues apart? Although it’s not part of the new study, the research team at Yale has been investigating this question — and has begun floating some ideas. Several other social scientists have been doing this as well. The emerging view, they argue, is that people tend to be unusually judgmental of facts or interpretations in science fields that threaten the status quo — or the prevailing attitudes of their cultural group, however that might be defined.

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