What role for politics in science denial?

ONE  enormous field of inquiry which had its veneer scratched in the recent ABC documentary “I Can Change Your Mind About… Climate” was the emerging understanding of why some politically-aligned people are able to accept or deny scientific facts.

Two books published recently in the US have begun to examine this science of ideology and how it plays out in politics. Chris Mooney (a fellow DeSmogBlog contributor) is the author of The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality. Jonathan Haidt is the author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are divided.

Watch their fascinating discussion on the msnbc show Up with Chris Hayes on the politics of science denial – touching on evolution and human-caused climate change. At one point the discussion becomes frustratingly circular, but to me it tells us something about why the climate change debate has become so polarised. The advert’s annoying.. sorry.

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Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

2 thoughts on “What role for politics in science denial?”

  1. You really are obsessed with this notion of denial.

    Did you ever stop to think that maybe some of us “skeptics” are mearly skeptical of the outrageous claims of impending doom? We don’t question if the planet was warming. What we do question is how much is it warming now, why was it warming for a couple of decades, and if the dire consequences predicted by alarmists will actually materialise.

    There is a big difference between questioning the science and denying the science.

  2. Thanks, Graham. I’m now interested in reading both books.

    These ideas provide a good rationale for the difficulties in trying to have reasoned discussion with some people about controversial issues. I’ve seen some commenters make efforts to relate to deniers, for example. But in the end it inevitably seems to come to a road block, even with the most accommodating of approaches.

    All is not lost, however. IMO it’s only the real extremists who won’t consider other viewpoints. (Unfortunately these extremists tend to troll interesting discussions, impeding the sharing/development of new ideas and approaches. )

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