Experts agree but we don’t do

Scientific opinion presents facts and, for example with climate change, often a very high likelihood of sustained and significant economic, social and environmental pain. Yet, even when nearly all scientists agree we don’t accept the facts, can instead frame the information in ways that suit our own contrary beliefs or, as individuals or societies are not willing to act.

Why? This perplexing and dangerous circumstance is true even when action is manifestly in our self interest – financial or otherwise. This is certainly the case for climate change. Consequently the Cultural Cognition Project’s research is a very welcome addition to our knowledge.

A Cultural Cognition study suggests that, although people view scientific opinion as important, people from diverse cultural outlooks form different perceptions of what most scientists believe. That is, people draw conclusions about the risks of things like climate change that are congenial to their values.

Bottom line – it’s not just about the facts. It’s how people perceive and value this information and often hold significantly different worldviews. Such views influence perspectives, the ways in which we construct meaning and, priorities we place on action and inaction. See A Climate For Change for a short worldview background.

Picture: From the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School

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