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Re: [evol-psych] Re: Right, left, wrong: People reject science because ...

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  • michael haaheim
    I would argue against two points you make. First, if you don t know where your destination is, you are already technically lost... you are not going to become
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 6, 2013
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      I would argue against two points you make. First, if you don't know where your destination is, you are already technically lost... you are not going to become even more lost just because you change direction. On the other hand, a contant change of direction means that you don't end up moving very far from the original source... thus, there is a greater likelihood that either you do not move far enough away from the danger, or you do not go far enough to find necessary recsources. In short, you are correct that constantly changing directions poses a problem, but your stated reason is not correct.
      Second, your final argument is dependent upon group size (both original and subgroup). If the subgroups are sufficiently large to remain independently viable populations, then  there is actually greater likelihood for overall group survival, as this means that there would be a greater likelihood for at least some of the groups to find a habitable locale. Likewise, even if the groups are not independently viable, so long as there is a means for communication between groups, such as sending runners to an agreed rendezvous location and time, then there is a greater likelihood for finding the location, and then reestablishing a viable group size. It is only when the original group is too small, and sufficient communication is not possible, that breaking into smaller groups would not provide a distinct survival advantage. You do appear to acknowledge that expendable scouts offer a useful strategy... but expendable scouts can be used by both initial groups and subgroups. The main point being that there must be means for maintaining or reestablishing at least one viable group.

      De : Robert Karl Stonjek <stonjek@...>
      À : evolutionary-psychology@yahoogroups.com
      Envoyé le : Vendredi 4 octobre 2013 4h22
      Objet : [evol-psych] Re: Right, left, wrong: People reject science because ...

      Many people are afraid of the uncertainty of science and the tendency of science to change when the data changes.  Many people want certainty to such a degree that they will embrace extremely unlikely scenarios just to gain that certainty.  They may report with some pride that once they make a decision they stick to it no matter what and they may admire those who do not waver.
      This last point most certainly developed in the EEA where indecisiveness may have been fatal.  If you must move from your current location because the water and food sources have dried up then it is more important to just move than to move in the right direction because moving offers hope whereas staying put is definitely fatal.
      The probability of finding a fruiting tree or a prey animal is higher if you go somewhere than if you remain in the same place and procrastinate.
      Further, if you go hunting or move camp and continually change your mind about the direction to go in then you are more likely to get lost than if you make up your mind to go in some particular direction and stick with that decision despite the conditions met along the way.
      Finally, for a group to move to another location, everyone in the group must be confident that the direction taken is the right one even if the evidence they see contradicts this.  Survival is more likely if the group sticks together than if it breaks up into smaller groups.
      The individual that explores must be expendable for the group to reliably benefit from that strategy.
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Friday, October 04, 2013 12:05 PM
      Subject: News: Right, left, wrong: People reject science because ...

      Right, left, wrong: People reject science because ...

      October 3rd, 2013 in Other Sciences / Social Sciences
      Right, left, wrong: people reject science because ...It doesn’t matter how much evidence you have, people have already made up their mind about science. Credit: Flickr/blakeimeson
      You'd be forgiven for thinking science is under attack. Climate science has been challenged by deniers and sceptics, vaccination rates are falling thanks to anti-vaccination movements, and GM crops are pillaged by anti-GM activists. But what determines why people take these positions?
      Foremost is a person's "worldview", their basic beliefs in how society should be structured and operate. Recent research has shown time and time again that people who endorse extreme free-market economics are prone to reject science with regulatory implications – such as the link between tobacco and lung cancer, or greenhouse gasses and climate change.
      On the flip-side are speculations that the anti-GM and anti-vaccination movement are the domain of the political left. Some commentators have even referred to a "liberal war on science", and have claimed that both ends of spectrum have their own selective blindness to evidence.
      So, is the rejection of science politically symmetrical? If people on the right reject climate science, do people on the left reject evidence inconvenient to their worldview?
      A liberal war on science?
      To date evidence for left-wing rejection of science has been scarce. One study found opposition to HPV vaccination is focused on the right. Similarly, a European study found opposition to GM to be the domain of the extreme right.
      In a peer-reviewed paper, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, colleagues Gilles Gignac, Klaus Oberauer, and I report a survey of Americans that sheds light onto the role of personal worldviews and political opinions in science rejection.
      Much like previous studies, we found that conservatism and free-market worldview strongly predict rejection of climate science. But personal politics did not predict attitudes to GM at all, and had a more nuanced effect on vaccinations.
      Liberals were somewhat more likely to reject vaccinations than conservatives. But this was balanced by opposition to vaccinations arising from free-market endorsement. Thus, there appear to be two routes to resistance against vaccinations. On the political right, Libertarians were arguably resentful of intrusion into patenting and regulations. On the political left, people were perhaps suspicious of the "pharmaceutical-industrial" complex.
      Taken together, the data do not provide terribly strong support for a "liberal war on science".
      It's all a conspiracy
      Our study examined another factor repeatedly implicated in science denial – conspiratorial thinking.
      Denial of the link between HIV and AIDS frequently involves conspiratorial hypotheses, for example that AIDS was created by the US Government. Likewise, YouTube videos critical of HPV vaccinations and many anti-vaccination blogs are suffused with conspiratorial content.
      And a United States senator recently wrote a book entitled The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future – a title that makes it rather difficult to dismiss the possibility that conspiratorial thinking is involved in climate denial as well.
      Indeed, our study found that rejection of all the science areas studied—GM, vaccinations, and climate science—was associated with conspiracy theories. The extent of this association differed between areas. It was modest for GM food and climate science, but rather substantial for vaccinations.
      The likelihood that someone would reject vaccinations was roughly three times greater if a person endorsed a conspiracy theory—for example that MI6 killed Princess Diana—than if they did not.
      We also looked at the proportion of people who believed conspiracies directly related to science. 10% of respondents thought that "U.S.agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s." 20% believed climate change is a "hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research".
      And 15% thought that the "alleged link between second-hand tobacco smoke and ill health is based on bogus science and is an attempt by a corrupt cartel of medical researchers to replace rational science with dogma." These figures show that the conspiratorial element in science denial cannot be ignored.
      Why is there an association between science rejection and conspiracy theories? Conspiratorial thinking in science denial may serve two distinct roles.
      First, a conspiracy may help dismiss findings that are inconvenient or threatening for other reasons. For example, the tobacco industry has referred to medical research on the health effects of smoking as "a vertically integrated, highly concentrated, oligopolistic cartel."
      The invention of a conspiracy can also explain away a scientific consensus—as in the case of climate change. If a person cannot accept that researchers independently converged on the same, evidence-based view, then a conspiracy among researchers provides an alternative explanation.
      Conspiracies are also antithetical to scientific reasoning. While consistency is a hallmark of science, conspiracy theorists often subscribe to contradictory beliefs at the same time – for example, that MI6 killed Princess Diana, and that she also faked her own death.
      While science relies on evidence to guide theory – including revision where necessary – conspiracies reinterpret data to match theories. And while science considers all available data to develop hypotheses, conspiracy theorists dismiss evidence that supports the "official" account, instead relying on small pieces of anomalous data. The fact that Timothy McVeigh's car lost a licence plate is given more weight than the entire body of evidence that identified him as the Oklahoma City bomber.
      When worldviews and conspiracies determine people's attitude towards science, it is perhaps unsurprising that simply providing more evidence isn't enough to alert people to the risks they are facing—be it from smoking, HIV, or climate change.
      Source: The Conversation
      This story is published courtesy of The Conversation (under Creative Commons-Attribution/No derivatives).
      The Conversation
      "Right, left, wrong: People reject science because ...." October 3rd, 2013. http://phys.org/news/2013-10-left-wrong-people-science.html
      Posted by
      Robert Karl Stonjek

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