Written by Alexander Vancel
Facts don’t matter when it comes to politics according to a new scientific study. How many times have you been in a debate and the other person simply won’t acknowledge that they are wrong, despite factual evidence proving otherwise?
According to a new study by Dan Kahan, a professor at Yale University, people are more likely to stick with their initial answer when facts prove them wrong. The subjects were initially assessed on their proficiency in numeracy, and their scores were noted. When the data was presented in a political context but the data remained identical, they did worse.
Scientifically they have proven that despite being provided with a fact that should change your belief on a subject, your political views distort the truth. Your mind already has an answer established so you are looking for proof that supports it, which is literally working backward in the scientific world. Confirmation bias has been proven to be the reason why smart people on all sides of the political spectrum can somehow manage to fail at providing factual arguments.
The new study shows why many Americans believe that climate change, or global warming, is not backed by science. Despite the fact that 97% of scientists agree that “climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities,” there are still those who insist it is all a hoax. A recent poll shows that 3 in 8 Americans actually believe that global warming is a hoax.
This is not hearsay, this is factual information that has been collected through multiple research teams around the world. If 18 scientific associations can agree that climate change is a real issue, then why do people still believe that it is a lie? An even more intriguing question would be, why do people stick to their beliefs when facts are right in front of them?
What is the underlying problem with climate change being a reality rather than a hoax? Could it be that we are told by a few loud individuals that is is all fabricated by the “Communists”? While conducting research, I discovered a pledge that has been going around congress pertaining to a possible resolution for climate change.
Some members of congress have pledged to vote against climate change legislation. The only way their votes would change is if an equivalent amount of tax cuts are also attached to the bill. This pledge was created by the Americans for Prosperity, which is owned by the Koch brothers.
Rather than attempting to disagree with facts, politics has found a way to navigate around information and straight to Congress. Knowledge is power, but when you lie to your supporters and they wholeheartedly stand by you, then there is a problem.
Is this an issue of not being able to handle the truth? Well here is a statistic which most Americans would rather not acknowledge: 51% of greenhouse gases are attributable to livestock and their products. This means that all of the meat you eat causes just as many, if not more, GHGs than your car does.
The Yale study proved that when people are misinformed about a subject, facts which contradict their assumptions actually make them believe their flawed information. An assistant professor of government at Dartmouth, Bendan Nyhan, found even more disturbing evidence to back up this study. From Salon:
People who said the economy was the most important issue to them, and who disapproved of Obama’s economic record, were shown a graph of nonfarm employment over the prior year – a rising line, adding about a million jobs. They were asked whether the number of people with jobs had gone up, down or stayed about the same. Many, looking straight at the graph, said down.
Could this be the reason why global warming is considered to be a hoax by some Americans? Is the focus on the end goal so strong that facts cannot penetrate the “bubble” of misinformation?
How many times did the phrase “You didn’t build that” get played on the news? This was specifically cut from a longer statement made by President Obama, and yet American Crossroads, founded in part by Karl Rove, tried to use that in a smear ad called Build during the 2012 elections. When taken out of context, the statement does seem like the President is bashing small business owners. Despite the fact that it was taken out of context, the GOP convention was themed “We Built This.”
Fox News viewers were actually used as a study by the University of Maryland in regard to their knowledge of climate change. The findings concluded that Fox News viewers were more misinformed than other viewers of different news networks. A second study conducted by Stanford University found that “more exposure to Fox News was associated with more rejection of many mainstream scientists’ claims about global warming.”
Scientists get peer reviewed after many tests are conducted to aid in the process of ascertaining new facts. Politicians are able to twist information to directly support their agenda and are often associated with dishonesty. Scientists must prove their theories with substantial evidence, while the politician only has to appear to know what they are talking about. Which person do you trust more with facts: a scientist or a politician?
This post was originally published on The Allegiant
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