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The Sciences

Climate Change and the Problem of Well-Informed Denial

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMay 3, 2011 9:12 PM

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My latest DeSmogBlog item just went up--it is about yet another study showing that the more you think you know about climate, the more sure of your views you are--even if those are diametrically opposed to the science:

“Political polarization is greatest among the Republicans and Democrats who are most confident that they understand this issue,” writes Hamilton. “Republicans and Democrats less sure about their understanding also tend to be less far apart in their beliefs.” .... How could this be? For Hamilton, the explanation lies in the interaction between how we get information (from trusted news and Internet sources, we think, but we’re actually being selective) and our own biases in evaluating it (objectively, we think, but again, we’re actually being selective). “People increasingly choose news sources that match their own views,” Hamilton writes. “Moreover, they tend to selectively absorb information even from this biased flow, fitting it into their pre-existing beliefs.” In other words, we’re twice biased—based on our views and information sources—and moreover, twice biased in different directions. Thus it really makes a lot of sense that those who are paying less attention to the climate issue, whether nominally Democrat or Republican, are less polarized and less sure of themselves. They’re not working nearly as hard at reaffirming their convictions, and refuting the convictions of the other side.

You can read the full piece here and the study that inspired it here.

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