Thursday, October 01, 2015

Education can help motivated reasoning

As several articles over the last few years have explained:
It should be no surprise that the voters and politicians opposed to climate change tend to be of a conservative bent, keen to support free-market ideology. This is part of a phenomenon known as motivated reasoning, where instead of evidence being evaluated critically, it is deliberately interpreted in such a way as to reaffirm a pre-existing belief, demanding impossibly stringent examination of unwelcome evidence while accepting uncritically even the flimsiest information that suits one's needs.
And today I'm reading about some New Hampshire survey results which show that a good education can help with successful self delusion.  It's from a post at And Then There's Physics, where the following table appears:

Yep, if you're a Republican, a better education can actually make you less likely to believe in AGW.

And here is the explanation from the post:
After politics, education is the second-strongest predictor of views on climate. But politics can neutralize or even reverse the effects of education. College-educated respondents more actively assimilate information in accord with their prejudices, whether these prejudices incline them toward scientific or ideological sources. Figure 3 depicts the probability of a now/human response as a function of education and politics (details here). The pattern is reproduced with remarkable consistency across 34 surveys. Among Democrats and Independents, agreement with the scientific consensus rises with education. Among Republicans, agreement with the scientific consensus does not rise with education, and sometimes even falls. This fall becomes steeper if we separate Tea Party supporters into their own group.
 The "motivated reasoning" blog par excellence in Australia is, of course, one beginning with the letter "C"....

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