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New Study Says: Facts Don’t Matter When it Comes to Politics

New Study Says: Facts Don’t Matter When it Comes to Politics

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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Photo credit: Thinkstock

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1:27AM PST on Nov 9, 2013

Just look around, listen and realize how clearly obvious this is the basic doctrine followed by politicians, no scientific study to say so. Representatives of we the people have died ... new game in town is between left and right, black and white, greedy and needy, etc. Back to the future, we own it.

6:12PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

While I did mention the 0.3C value along with the IPCC reference, you have chosen to twist and manipulate it to suit your needs. Similar to many of the extremists you purport to espouse. You seem to think that exaggerating to over twice the expected warming trend is acceptable, but those who exaggerate the cooling potential are liars.
I keep addressing your point, but you choose to ignore it. I cannot do more that that. I have already given you my credentials, so you know your accusations are false. Why bother?

12:01PM PDT on Oct 7, 2013

No Dan B., I have nothing better to do than babysit your inanity, note your inability to accurately READ and ANALYZE facts, chastise your childish ability to twist and deflect the conversation based on whatever cherry-picked factoids seem to please you at the moment.

#1 -- As I stated, I did not choose the 0.3 C figure.....I purposefully picked it because YOU used it in an earlier post.
#2 -- As I already stated, my point was not about the specific figure itself, but about the biased way you define the climate-change extremes and then claim both sides are somehow "equivalent". You have FAILED to address that point at all. And I can see why.
#3 -- Whether I read or did not read the new IPPC report is an argumentive DEFLECTION on your part. My points to you have little to do with whether or not you or I read the report and its many details. Your lie about equivalency is a much broader-based intellectual lie. For all you know, I might be a co-author of the report. And for all I know, you might be the king of the Teatards.

5:41PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

By the way, have you read the latest IPCC report, or any portion thereof?

5:39PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Do you have nothing better to do than insult others and make inane comments? Do you have any supporting evidence to back up your statement that temperature will rise only 0.3C over the next century? That is half the value of the previous century.

3:25PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

All -- for Dan B. to now disingenuously claim that the new IPCC report confirms his previous statements, is like J. Boehner 5 years from now trying to rename the the ACA as BoehnerCare....or maybe CruzCare. Not a surprise, it is a consistent tactic by the rightwing.

These people have clearly lost their grip on reality. Instead they live in their self-created is their entire world...a world based on rightwing emotion and FAILED ideology... a world aware of only those facts that happen to align with the fairytale-of-the-day that is driven into their empty heads like nails by their rightwing media lords.

3:12PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Dan B. -- What are you 6 years old? Previously, you had been proudly advertising to anyone who would listen to your tripe here on Care2 that the new IPPC report would have to retract most of the basic findings of the previous one. Not only were they NOT retracted, but most were strengthened.

You are beyond DISINGENUOUS to now claim that the new IPCC report confirms your earlier statements. You are a sad apologist for the harmful, anti-science ideology that permeates your party. You claim [D]s and [R]s are equally bad at politicizing climate science.....but do tell us how, by agreeing with the climate science concensus, the [D]s are politicizing anything?

You seem to think that the concensus is a 0.3 C rise over the next century. OK, fine; without arguing specific numbers, you charge that the politician who would claim the figure is more like 0.6 C (0.3 C + 0.3 C, and within the range of the models' predictions) is "just as bad" as the ideologue who claims the number is 0 C (0.3 C - 0.3 C), not becasue of any scientific models but because the ideologue ignores the science altogether and claims there is no human-casued warming. The logical and scientific fallacy of that false equivalency, and the purposeful ignorance it takes to promote it on a public website, speaks of some serious cognative disabilities on your part.

Flat out: if you are anything other than a 6-year old typing on his Mommy's computer, you are an uber-partisan rightwing moron.

2:05PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

So, does the fact that recent IPCC report confirms my earlier statements change your opinion any? Christina sounds like she is broaching the issue in a rather scientific way. Global warming is happening, but not at the speed or intensity claimed by some.

12:41PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Dan and everyone:

Here's the difference between the [D] and [R] party politicians:
[D] == even including those who Dan says claim a 1 deg temp rise over the next century, I'd say over 90% of [D] politicians correctly convey the main climate-science result that humans are causing much of the observed temp. rise. And further, 90% give various values for temp rises that are within the models' range of probable error.
[R] == well over 90% of [R] politicians outright pronounce a stance of climate-science denial, stating that either climate-science results cannot be believed, that humans make no contribution to climate change, or that climate science itself is a non-science racket.

So, you see, there is a REAL political choice: a party where the great majority of its politicians agree and intelligently discuss climate-science results VERSUS a party where the great majority of its politicians irrationally denounce climate-science results for brazenly political purposes and who actually verbally attack the science and the scientists.

It is disingenuous in the EXTREME for Dan to promote the blatant fairytale that both [R]s and [D]s are somehow equally bad about climate science. There is NO such equivalency. And only a Teatard who retains enough vestigial sentience to be embarrassed by the irrational anti-science behavior of his fellow Teatards' would attempt to cover-up and aplogize for their behavior by promoting even more irrational lies about the other political party

12:36PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Brian F. -- You are pretty much dead-on correct, both about climate science and about Dan B.

Dan likes to cherry pick his science factoids to create an apologetic context for the irrational behavior of his fellow rightwing Teatards. Before I called him out on it, he would even attempt to reference openly climate-denialist websites as sources for his information to counter the science results being PUBLISHED by the actual climate scientists. Before the current version of the IPPC report came out, he was even claiming that it would have to refute most of the major findings of the previous report. Now that the new report is actually out, he of course cannot continue to make those childishly outlandish claims, but instead he now quietly eats crow-shit over it. So, he has begged off that approach now, but instead continues to support the rightwing fairytale by cherry picking the science results he chooses to discuss and by absurdly stating that both political parties are equally as bad about climate science.

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