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Earth Science Politics

Political Ideology Shapes How People Perceive Temperature 193

Posted by timothy
from the and-who-wants-t'-know? dept.
benfrog writes "In what likely isn't that much of a surprise, a study has shown that political ideology shapes how we perceive temperature changes (but not drought/flooding conditions). (An abstract of the study is here. 8,000 individuals were asked about temperatures and drought/flood events in recent years, then their political leanings. Answers regarding drought/flood events tended to follow the actual changes in conditions, while answers regarding temperature tended to follow people's political beliefs."
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Political Ideology Shapes How People Perceive Temperature

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  • by SpryGuy (206254) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:41PM (#40703833)

    ...when looked at by political groupings, did any particular political grouping's perceptions of the temperate correlate more closely to reality than the others?

    i.e. was there one or more political ideologies that was more divorced from reality than the others, by any meaningful statistical deviation? Or were they all off, just in different directions based on political ideology?

  • by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:51PM (#40703965) Homepage Journal

    ...when looked at by political groupings, did any particular political grouping's perceptions of the temperate correlate more closely to reality than the others?

    i.e. was there one or more political ideologies that was more divorced from reality than the others, by any meaningful statistical deviation? Or were they all off, just in different directions based on political ideology?

    They gracefully side-stepped this in the Ars article: "And those cultural affiliations had about the effect you'd expect. Individualists, who often object to environmental regulations as an infringement on their freedoms, tended to think the temperatures hadn't gone up in their area, regardless of whether they had. Strong egalitarians, in contrast, tended to believe the temperatures had gone up."

    Basically, the temperature is what you think it is. If you don't believe in global warming then it isn't getting warmer. If you do believe in global warming then it is getting warmer. The thing is, global warming over the past few years is very real, and only one group acknowledged that. The study did not explore the possibility that global warming believers might think that the temperature is going up even if it isn't..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 19, 2012 @03:55PM (#40704035)

    ...made by some Dutch professor in Social Sciences right ? Lately 2 professors turned out to be frauds, exactly in this area, and this article could be another: unfunded conclusions by a vague questionnaire...
    Not saying that it is of course, but erm... just saying :)

  • by rrohbeck (944847) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:20PM (#40704357)

    I've noticed recently that many people who have kids don't believe in climate change or Peak Everything.
    Of course, the idea that your kids or grandkids will have a much worse life than yourself is intolerable for many.
    Me, I have no children so I can think freely.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:44PM (#40704645) Journal

    True, but it's worth pointing out that this effect is larger [salon.com] in conservatives. The more a conservative learns about a topic the stronger his preconcieved beliefs are.

    The result was stunning and alarming. The standard view that knowing more science, or being better at mathematical reasoning, ought to make you more accepting of mainstream climate science simply crashed and burned.

    Instead, here was the result. If you were already part of a cultural group predisposed to distrust climate scienceâ"e.g., a political conservative or âoehierarchical-individualistââ"then more science knowledge and more skill in mathematical reasoning tended to make you even more dismissive.

    Contrast liberals, where learning more about a topic is more likely to change his belief.

    Nuclear power is a classic test case for liberal biasesâ"kind of the flip side of the global warming issueâ"for the following reason. Itâ(TM)s well known that liberals tend to start out distrustful of nuclear energy: Thereâ(TM)s a long history of this on the left. But this impulse puts them at odds with the views of the scientific community on the matter (scientists tend to think nuclear power risks are overblown, especially in light of the dangers of other energy sources, like coal).

    So are liberals âoesmart idiotsâ on nukes? Not in Kahanâ(TM)s study. As members of the âoeegalitarian communitarianâ group in the studyâ"people with more liberal valuesâ"knew more science and math, they did not become more worried, overall, about the risks of nuclear power. Rather, they moved in the opposite direction from where these initial impulses would have taken them. They become less worriedâ"and, I might add, closer to the opinion of the scientific community on the matter.

  • In other news... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CCarrot (1562079) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @04:56PM (#40704783)

    Chronological Age Shapes How People Perceive Temperature

    "You just don't get the summers we used to get when I was a lad..."

    Financial Circumstances Shape How People Perceive Temperature

    "Almost froze my ass off last winter, didn't have enough newspapers stocked up since everybody's reading the bloody online bloody news these days..."

    and

    Number of Children / Grandchildren / Pets Shape How People Perceive Temperature

    "Well, Susie has her skating class, then Molly has her hockey game, but Andy and Billy were invited to that Winter Festival / tobogganing birthday party at the same time...oh, and could you walk Rover when you get home?"

    Face it, 'perception' of temperature is a pretty worthless measure overall. Stick with the measurements, assign a margin of error (note: not 'corrections') suitable for the technology / location, and go from there.

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @09:03PM (#40706867)
    They connected the wrong dots. Different political affiliations typically means different age groups which means one has seen more decades of weather which contained other floods and droughts and heat waves so they are less inclined to think there's a change going on.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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