Why don’t Americans believe what science tells them?

The Pew Research Center is out with a fascinating report today showing the gap in what scientists say and what the public believes.

It’s not just climate change that serves as an example of how quickly many Americans dismiss scientific reports; it’s virtually every issue involving science.

Curiously, the survey reveals that science and scientists are held in high esteem. But when it comes to believability, not so much.

Why? Seventy-five percent of scientists blame the lack of science in K-12, as schools concentrate on reading and math.

It’s a lament, of course, with real consequences. We might dismiss the need for science on the basis that many kids won’t become scientists. But, in fact, we need science so that we can grow up to understand the complex threats that face us.

Read the whole report here.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Maybe because seemingly every day something else causes cancer and what was found to cause cancer yesterday tomorrow might be found otherwise? Plus of course scientists are going to walk into things with a bias toward science, they’re scientists.

    • I think part of this is mainstream media which declares what causes cancer when the science of it actually said something like it “may” cause cancer.

      And of course subsequent research finds out that there ISN’T actually a link (or that there is).

      In any case the original stuff gets amplified — usually incorrectly.

      Which is why I favor banning all reporting that uses “may” anywhere in the head or lede.

    • Ben Chorn

      This is unfortunately a very common argument. I have had people tell me that scientists cannot be trusted because they get funding to support the journals’ ideas- basically that those who support climate change get money to do research to support climate change. The flaw of course is that grants and money are given to do experiments (well before results are discovered).

      I would be interested to see how much more people trust politicians over scientists- look at how much traction Michele Bachman got by stating vaccines give kids Autism, or how Todd Akin said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” And yet those people keep getting elected and some even go on to serve on congressional science committees.

      • Gary F

        Like “you can keep your health plan if you want to”. Or “ISIS is the JV team”?

        Research scientists need funding, which normally comes from government, so they want more big government, that’s why people don’t see eye to eye. They don’t want more government in their lives.

        • So you’re saying Americans apply a political litmus test to the science that they’re presented with?

          Huh. Coulda knocked me over with a feather there. :*)

          • I’m shocked that Gary went there.

        • Cranky GC

          What the hell does this comment have to do with the subject of the article? While I can understand the gap in the survey for other reasons stated in these comments, this type of comment partly demonstrates why there is a gap. Do you honestly believe scientific conclusions mean more government in people’s lives because the political machine passed healthcare reform? Those with an unbending philosophy tend to take any issue and bend the issue to fit the philosophy rather than reconcile the philosophy in face of facts. Go troll somewhere else, sir!

        • Jay T. Berken

          “Research scientist” also get funding from endowments, foundations, non-profit organizations and private industry, not just the government.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        I wouldn’t say Akin gained traction. He gained attention, and near unanimous scorn, but not traction. Traction leads to gaining something. He lost.

  • Nick K

    I place the blame on scientists themselves. Often times they release findings that end up not being true (e.g. margarine is healthier than butter). Moreover, look at the table. In many instances 10-30% of scientists disagree with the “mainsteam” view. When you have access to so much valid, but contradictory data, it becomes easy to lose faith in what “science” tells us.

    • Ben Chorn

      There is a lot more to science beside medical and food science. Maybe other sciences need more exposure.

      • Nick K

        Other sciences get plenty of exposure and they also release results that later turn out to be wrong. Do you remember when scientists in Italy “discovered” neutrinos moving faster than light? I do. Turned out to be not true. Or how about when members of the BICEP2 team leaked news of revoutinary new proof in the cosmis inflation theory? Oops. There is also the case of the missing severe Atlantic hurricanes that were supposed to be ravaging America during the last 8 years.

        • It’s worth pointing out that the scientists published their findings, noting their surprise, and basically asking other scientists to test their calculations, which turned out to be wrong.

          “We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing,” Antonio Ereditato, spokesman for the researchers, told Reuters upon releasing the findings. “We now want colleagues to check them independently.”

          If you then accepted that as the gospel on the subject, that’s a massive failure of understanding what the researchers were providing.

          The question were they concluding that neutrinos moved faster than light. Or were they saying their research showed neutrinos moved faster than light?

          As for the hurricanes, we’ve already asked you to cite the research so we can evaluate what your conclusion is and so far you haven’t provided it. Why not? How are we test your research without that data?

          My suspicion is that you’ve either misstated the hypothesis of the climate scientists, or found someone who was relatively isolated from the consensus. In other words: garbage in. Garbage out.

          My suspicion is that the dominant scientific conclusion about hurricanes and climate change, was this:
          http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/09/hurricanes-and-global-warming/

          • Nick K

            I appreciate the lecture on science, but you really ought to follow your own advice and read my comments in the context they were given, specifically the answer to the question: Why don’t Americans believe what science tells them? Really read through what I wrote in the order it appears. The thesis that I state (albeit not as plainly as I could have) is that scientists should take the blame because they release findings that aren’t true. Take, for example, the neutrino question which you quote from. What is the average American to take from a statement that starts “We have high confidence in our results. We have checked and rechecked for anything that could have distorted our measurements but we found nothing.”? There are two ways to go; you can believe what they said or you can be skeptical of what they are saying. You’re telling me I’m wrong to place the blame on scientists because they acknowledge that their conclusions might be wrong. But simply airing these results in front of the news media is what makes people doubt the science. There were other ways for the scientists in Italy to confirm their findings (which would have changed the entire world) other than to hold a press conference. So it doesn’t matter, when it comes to whether or not Americans trust scientists, whether they said neutrinos moved faster than light or that they research showed that.

            As to the hurricanes, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2014/10/07/why-floridas-record-setting-hurricane-drought-portends-danger/.

          • I think people have to have the ability to think critically, so if they’re accepting as gospel research that is acknowledged by researchers to be in need of checking, I find that to be pretty massive failure of the ability to think critically.

            I think this actually gets back to the point on STEM education that one of the reasons Americans don’t believe scientists is because Americans are predisposed to understanding science, and certainly not the research process itself.

            To your link in support of your assertion — or more accurately, I suppose: your innuendo — that 8 years without a hurricane has proven the fallacy of scientific research on the subject, I note in your link there there is absolutely scientific data or research provided to support this.

            In fact, there isn’t ANY research there stating, really, anything.

            Show me the scientific papers — preferably peer reviewed, but whatever — that predicted climate change would result in X number of storms in that location in the subsequent 8 years.

          • Nick K

            http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-3-6-3.html The IPCC report discusses a number of studies on these issues. Yoshimura et al., 2006 – was a study that implied an increase in severe storms in the Norht Atlantic tropical basin. “As noted above, the competing effects of greater stabilisation of the tropical troposphere (less storms) and greater SSTs (the storms that form are more intense) likely contribute to these changes except for the tropical North Atlantic where there are greater SST increases than in the other basins in that model. Therefore, the SST warming has a greater effect than the vertical stabilisation in the Atlantic and produces not only more storms but also more intense storms there.”

          • The link I provided earlier (to Duke, who’s disappeared from the conversation, unfortunately) is a later assessment. 2012, I believe.

            One of the things that struck me — and I don’t know enough to assess its meaning — is the term global vs. regional. Many of the conclusions cited global instances and then broke down the instance of regional variations.

            Some something can be happening REGIONALLY and yet not be happening GLOBALLY.

            The question I have is what is the relative importance and significance of those differences?

          • Nick K

            Any chance of calling in a favor and having that addressed on the Updraft blog?

          • I’m sure he would. You have a better chance of getting it by dropping him a note. phuttner@mpr.org

    • Michele

      Testing and often times refuting earlier research findings is fundamental to the scientific method.

  • DJ Wambeke

    Interesting research, although I think Pew flubbed the survey a bit. What it seems they were getting at is why the public doesn’t always listen to scientists’ views on scientific questions. And this is certainly an excellent question.

    Some of the questions on the survey, however, don’t strictly speaking pertain to scientific questions, but cross over into ethical or other practical concerns. Take, for example, the animal research issue – most scientists are almost certainly in favor of it because it is incredibly useful. Most of the public that is opposed to it probably doesn’t disagree with its utility and instead just doesn’t want to hurt cute little animals. For them, it’s an ethical issue.

  • Thank you for this.

  • al

    I would add this cynical point — follow where the $ for the scientific research comes from (mostly from the taxpayer through grants from the Federal government). There’s a lot of distrust on some of the issues (climate, in particular) because it’s perceived that there is a political bias to that research. That bias also helps garner more research $.

    • David P.

      Those that deny the science because there is government funding involved are making the assumption that for some reason the US government, the Canadian government, the Brits, Norwegian, French, German, et al – that all these governments have worked in concert to throw the fossil fuel economy over.
      These same folks are willing to believe the science funded by the fossil fuel industry.

  • KTN

    Because people are afraid of it. They were either poor students in science and math and therefore have a bias towards not believing what they read/hear, or they decide they no longer want to think for themselves, and rely on the media to provide them their grist.

  • Duke Powell

    Why don’t Americans believe what science tells them?

    According to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report:

    1. “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century…..No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over
    the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”

    2. “there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence
    regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods
    on a global scale.”

    3. “there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe
    weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical
    data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems.”

    4. “Based on updated studies, AR4 [the IPCC 2007 report] conclusions
    regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were
    probably overstated.”

    5. “Confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extra-tropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”

    Despite this documented evidence, The Daily Circuit, today, had a segment where the Northeast snowstorm was blamed on global warming.

    We are fortunate that Galileo, Einstein, Watson et al didn’t settle for “settled science.”

    • See above. I’m willing to bet it was cited as part of a pattern.

      I’m having dinner at the moment and can’t listen, but if you get a chance navigate over to the audio and report back.

    • Also, you really should provide links so that people can read the full report.

      The 2012 summary also says:

      There is evidence that some extremes have changed as a result of anthropogenic influences, including
      increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. It is likely that anthropogenic influences have led
      to warming of extreme daily minimum and maximum temperatures at the global scale. There is medium confidence
      that anthropogenic influences have contributed to intensification of extreme precipitation at the global scale. It is
      likely that there has been an anthropogenic influence on increasing extreme coastal high water due to an increase in
      mean sea level. The uncertainties in the historical tropical cyclone records, the incomplete understanding of the physical
      mechanisms linking tropical cyclone metrics to climate change, and the degree of tropical cyclone variability provide
      only low confidence for the attribution of any detectable changes in tropical cyclone activity to anthropogenic
      influences. Attribution of single extreme events to anthropogenic climate change is challenging. [3.2.2, 3.3.1, 3.3.2,

      and…

      It is likely that the frequency of heavy precipitation or the proportion of total rainfall from heavy falls will
      increase in the 21st century over many areas of the globe. This is particularly the case in the high latitudes and
      tropical regions, and in winter in the northern mid-latitudes. Heavy rainfalls associated with tropical cyclones are likely
      to increase with continued warming. There is medium confidence that, in some regions, increases in heavy precipitation
      will occur despite projected decreases in total precipitation in those regions. Based on a range of emissions scenarios
      (B1, A1B, A2), a 1-in-20 year annual maximum daily precipitation amount is likely to become a 1-in-5 to 1-in-15 year
      event by the end of the 21st century in many regions, and in most regions the higher emissions scenarios (A1B and A2)
      lead to a stronger projected decrease in return period. See Figure SPM.4B. [3.3.2, 3.4.4, Table 3-3, Figure 3-7]
      Average tropical cyclone maximum wind speed is likely to increase, although increases may not occur in
      all ocean basins. It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain
      essentially unchanged. [3.4.4]
      There is medium confidence that there will be a reduction in the number of extratropical cyclones averaged
      over each hemisphere. While there is low confidence in the detailed geographical projections of extratropical
      cyclone activity, there is medium confidence in a projected poleward shift of extratropical storm tracks. There is low
      confidence in projections of small spatial-scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail because competing physical
      processes may affect future trends and because current climate models do not simulate such phenomena. [3.3.2, 3.3.3,
      3.4.5]
      There is medium confidence that droughts will intensify in the 21st century in some seasons and areas, due
      to reduced precipitation and/or increased evapotranspiration. This applies to regions including southern Europe
      and the Mediterranean region, central Europe, central North America, Central America and Mexico, northeast Brazil,
      and southern Africa. Elsewhere there is overall low confidence because of inconsistent projections of drought changes
      (dependent both on model and dryness index). Definitional issues, lack of observational data, and the inability of models
      to include all the factors that influence droughts preclude stronger confidence than medium in drought projections.
      See Figure SPM.5. [3.5.1, Table 3-3, Box 3-3]
      Projected precipitation and temperature changes imply possible changes in floods, although overall there
      is low confidence in projections of changes in fluvial floods. Confidence is low due to limited evidence and
      because the causes of regional changes are complex, although there are exceptions to this statement. There is medium
      confidence (based on physical reasoning) that projected increases in heavy rainfall would contribute to increases in
      local flooding in some catchments or regions. [3.5.

      Where possible, pro ide links when lifting quotes to give people the opportunity to see — if they so choose — the context and additional information that might make for a fuller understanding of what an organization actually says.

      https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/special-reports/srex/SREX_FD_SPM_final.pdf

  • Jim Detry

    If you’ve ever seen a court case where “expert witnesses” argue opposite sides of a question, you can see there’s a difference between Doing Science and Making Claims. Most of what people are not believing are the Claims, not the actual Science.

    For example, some people say “Evolution is just a theory.’ Well, that’s not true. Evolution is a fact and you can make it happen in a lab, or on a farm by selective breeding. Natural Selection is the theory and there are many small SCIENTIFIC examples in which Natural Selection may need to be modified or expanded (punctuated equilibrium, genes which turn on and off based on environmental forces, parts of DNA formerly thought to be junk, etc.) none of which invalidate the original theory but point to ways to make it more accurate. People who don’t believe in Natural Selection are allowed to propose alternative explanations and propose experimental tests of their theory and the original. Unfortunately, most objections are based on religious faith and religion is not testable, so it is not science.

    Global Warming Theory starts from (a) CO2 absorbs infrared radiation (the established Greenhouse Effect) and (b) the % of CO2 in the atmosphere is rising (a measurable fact), and makes many claims based on models which are not yet very good. They also attempt to discount other possibilities beyond “human based CO2 production” (solar emission, cow farts, volcanoes, etc.) when ice ages (and their corresponding changes in climate) have been shown to come and go without human intervention. But the “advocates” declare We Are Right, The Case Is Closed, You Aren’t Allowed To Question Us. So they are no longer doing science if they don’t allow their theory to be tested, even when some of its predictions have been shown to be incorrect. They have crossed from Science to Faith Based Climatology. They may ultimately be correct, but closing discussion is a certain way to fertilize mistrust and suggest a hidden agenda.

    For subjects like genetically modified food, the non-science-trusting opponents argue it MAY be harmful and demand scientists prove it’s not. You can’t prove a negative, so all that’s left is for the opponents to do some science of their own and prove it IS harmful. The same goes for all the MAY cause cancer stories.

  • Mark

    Part of the problem may be that scientists maintain that no single weather event is attributable to climate change, and then a scientist gets on the Daily Circuit and attributes the recent Northeast blizzard to climate change.

    • I’m willing to bet he didn’t. I’m willing to bet he cited a pattern of severe storms as evidence of climate change.

      I doubt very much he cited a single event in isolation.

      And as I was the news out of Scituate today, there is is some evidence of this pattern. The homeowner said they used to get flooding from the sea about once every 20 years in storms . Now they get once a year.

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        I would be most people listening don’t hear the word pattern.

        • I bet the point involved more than one word, more than one sentence and more than oneparagraph.

          C’Mon, I got all this money on the table, who’s gonna “call” and go listen?

          • So I’ve gone back and listened to the audio and it confirmed what I suspected. That those of you who posted about what the scientist said reported incorrectly. And I think this is the problem I have with a lot of the discxussoin around climate change.

            People take something out of context, leave out important parts and then spread falsehoods. Now whether that’s intentional or whether it’s just a failure to listen or whether a preconceived bias filtered the data is open to interpretation.

            That said, I don’t really understand how any reasonable person would conclude that she said the storm is the result of climate change, especially when she started her point with, “It’s difficult to attribute one particular storm to climate change, so it’s hard to say whether one storm is the result of climate change. But we do understand as the climate changes and the redistribution of changes in atmospheric water vapor or rising sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures can actually make a lot of storms more intense and cause more damage, for example.”

            “So if you look at increased flooding on the East Coast, or as sea levels rise, that is the direct result of climate change acting with these storms. So there’s a lot of different things happening at the same time, but it’s difficult to attribute one particular event, but there’s a lot of science right now going into trying to understand how changes in the Arctic could be influencing mid-latitude weather. ”

            “A lot of that research is premature but we do see some signs that link extreme weather events to changes going on in the Arctic.”

            Then Paul Huttner reinforces that, yes, the storm would’ve formed with or without climate change, the question is whether climate change made the storm stronger.

            He then noted some research suggesting warmer ocean temperatures provide more heat and moisture in the storm.

            So, typically, the conversation was far more details then the simple attempt to dismiss it by using incorrect information.

            I think THAT is a modus operandi of those who don’t believe scientists. They seek to rebut their arguments not with facts but by spreading misinformation about what it is the scientists say.

            Now, anyone truly interested in being informed could have done what I just did and gone back and checked was said.

            But you didn’t do that. Instead you took the time to post what is essentially false information as fact.Z

            Why?

            To Duke’s point, nothing that was said there conflicts with what the IPCC says (link provided above).

            a 1-in-20 year annual maximum daily precipitation amount is likely to become a 1-in-5 to 1-in-15 year
            event by the end of the 21st century in many regions, and in most regions the higher emissions scenarios (A1B and A2)
            lead to a stronger projected decrease in return period

            It also notes that the reason it has low confidence in establishing links is because there isn’t enough data on a global scale yet which is why there’s additional research.

            Low confidence because of the lack of data doesn’t not mean something isn’t happening. It means there isn’t enough data to say FOR SURE that something isn’t happening. Or that it is.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            The problem here being you’re expecting the fast-food Twitter culture to process like a 12 paragraph explanation of something.

          • So the answer to the question posed in the headline is “because it’s too hard”?

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Yup. Do we seem like a culture that’s willing to take on hard stuff? Not to me.

          • No. I couldn’t possibly agree with you more. We’re not really a very smart species.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            Individually we’re very smart. As a whole? Smart societies would never allow the Large Haldron Collider.

          • Nick K

            Mark’s interpretation of “A lot of that research is premature but we do see some signs that link extreme weather events to changes going on in the Arctic.” to mean that the guest was linking winter storm Juno to climate change is reasonable. I can see how a reasonable person could hear the words “extreme weather events” and take that mean big blizzards like the one that just occurred. I can also see how a reasonable person can hear “changes going on in the Artic” and take that to mean climate change. So let’s try the sentence again – A lot of that research is premature but we do see some signs that link that big blizzard in Boston to climate change.
            I would also point out that the guest said is was “difficult” to attribute one particular weather event to climate change.She didn’t say it was impossible or whether or not she believed there is a direct cause and effect.

          • I think that’s quite a linguistic feat to try to explain how someone takes a fairly intelligent two paragraphs of scientific endeavor and turns it into a completely misinformed and misleading sentence, which could have been better stated and considered by taking the opportunity that was available to actually be sure that what someone heard was what someone said.

            But that didn’t happen. Instead the time was taken to rebut a fact with a misleading statement.

            But, on the other hand, you’ve highlighted the answer to the original question.

          • Nick K

            Sounds to me like you’re making a No True Scotsman type argument: i.e., No reasonable person could interpret what was said in the way that Mark did; therefore, the interpretation I (Nick) offered is not reasonable.
            I’d like to know what you think was meant by “extreme weather event” and “changes going on in Artic.”

          • In terms of data and information, what you think someone said is irrelevant to me. What someone actually said is relevant to me.

          • kevinfromminneapolis

            What I meant was they may have heard but ignore the concept of weather vs weather patterns all together.

          • Nick K

            Patterns like the increased occurrence and severity of Atlantic hurricanes that we were told to expect after the hurricane season of 2005?

          • Well, I guess you’re making a point here without providing much in the way of insight by insinuating that the suggestion of a pattern was proven false by the fact there was a light hurricane season and there were no big storms until Sandy.

            But I would guess that if you research whatever proclamations you think were made, they didn’t depend on the next season or the next one after that proving or disproving the theory.

            If they had, I think that would be a pretty ignorant use of data, not at all unlike the politician who says “where’s your global warming now” during last year’s polar vortex.

            Or the “where’s the proof there’s no global warming, the Minneapolis Loppet got moved because there’s no snow.”

            My guess is few actually READ the data or the reports, but merely cuts and pastes whatever words will support whatever they believe from one blog or google search to another and trust that people will continue to be too lazy to do serious and intelligent research.

            Which is also why I think the question of climate change is moot because it’s too late to do anything about it anyway.

          • Nick K

            It has been nine years since a major hurricane struck the US. That is 2.5 years longer between major storms making landfall since 1900. After Hurricane Katrina, many scientists claimed that major storms hitting the US was the new normal and that we could expect more storms of increased intensity (the weather pattern that was discussed above). As the years have passed (nine now) without a major storm, climate scientists have started offering different explanations for why this might be happening. This form of ad hoc hypothesis is not good science. Kerry Emanuel from MIT published a prediction (in the journal Nature) for stronger hurricanes related to global warming in 2005. By 2010 he had backed off those claims (in the journal Nature Geoscience). So if he can use 5 years of additional data to cast doubt on his own work, I think it is reasonable for someone like me to start to have doubts after 9 years.

          • Jay T. Berken

            What is definition of “major hurricane”? After we establish that benchmark with you, then I can get what you mean “to have doubts after 9 years”.

            I personally think the Sandy Hurricane was a major storm especially in costs and disparity. I also look at the major typhoon that hit the Philippines was a major hurricane. Both are major storms since Katrina, do you agree?

          • I think I want to hear exactly what the scientists said and predicted and then compare it to what data we have in the intervening years and what data is available to assess an expected 9-year pattern.

            Were they talking about a 9-year pattern? I don’t know.

            By the way, there was another major hurricane that hit before Sandy and after Katrina, but it was judged to be a “dud” because predictions of the impact on New York didn’t come true.

            But it wasn’t a dud where it hit. Vermont.

            But , to me, if you tell me what scientists said, and don’t provide links back to the research, I’m not going to waste any time in the conversation, because I know how that works. We’ve seen it here already.

          • Nick K

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/07/08/climate-change-global-warming-hurricanes/2498611/
            Try this article. It seems to take a balanced approach that hits at points we both have been making (the danger in making assumptions based on short term data and the danger in assuming a link between climate change and hurricanes). I think it illustrates that the scientific community tends to send out mixed messages, adding to the overall distrust of scientific conclusions.

          • I completely agree that long-term predictions on number of storms should be taken with a grain of salt.

            What I find puzzling is you’ve suggested short term data has proven scientific research on the subject wrong while not providing evidence that short term data was offered to predict short term reality.

            I think scientists have offered data and research, and you applied it to the short term. I don’t think they did.

          • Nick K

            “…seems to take a balanced approach that hits at points we both have been making (the danger in making assumptions based on short term data and the danger in assuming a link between climate change and hurricanes).” I meant to imply that you were right; it is wrong of me to make assumptions based on short term data (the last nine years). I could and should have made a more carefully nuanced point about the disagreements scientists have about what their results mean.

          • Nick K

            I would also point back to assertion made in the article that predictive model does not seem to fit with historical data. I’ll admit, that isn’t 100% proof, but it does provide some doubt to the veracity of the model.

          • Agreed.

          • OK, I understand now. Thanks.

            I do blame the media for much of this. The reporting on science is imprecise and flawed. They are far too quick to grab the suggestion of a possible link, and make it a link in headlines. And it is not adequately explained in the story what the research actually says. News organizations have also laid off actual people who know, you know, science.

            Publications don’t help by putting actual research behind paywalls.

            There was, however, a really interesting segment on MPR Presents today exploring this question and one of the assertions is that humans’ “fight or flight” instinct is at play here. That interpreting scientific research or evidence involves applying a survival mechanism.

            http://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/01/30/mpr_news_presents

            I have to think about this some more. I don’t draw a conclusion from it. Only that it was interesting.

          • Nick K

            Category 3 or higher. Sandy wasn’t a hurricane when it hit.

          • Nick K

            Also, I said Atlantic hurricanes and/or hitting the US, depending on the post you read

  • Matt K

    That is a distressingly low number of scientists who believe in vaccines 🙁

  • shleigh

    87% of scientist are of the opinion that climate change is mostly due to human activity, yet 52% favor off-shore drilling and 39% favor increase use of fracking. I didn’t click to the original post to see if they address this, but isn’t one of the main ‘human activities’ that is impacting climate change the burning of fossil fuels? Also, it doesn’t say that those 87% believe that climate change is going to have more negative impacts on humans/the earth than positive effects, but my guess is that climate change due to human activity generally means ‘bad’.

  • There a state rep in Minnesota a few years ago on the natural resources committee who famously said, “God is not capricious. He’s given us a creation that is dynamically stable. We are not going to run out of anything.”

    I think he said God won’t let us destroy the planet no matter what we do to it.

    So maybe that’s the answer to the original question.

  • If you take the discussion out of the politically charged issue of climate change and look at it with another scientific endeavor, it perhaps becomes easier to discuss it.

    Today’s New York Times has a story today — more than a week behind NewsCut by the way — about the scientific explanation behind “deflategate.”

    Physicists will “unveil” their findings in Phoenix over the weekend but they mirror was the Ideal Gas Law has already been used to show — that atmospherics had more to do with deflated footballs than some grand conspiracy.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/sports/football/deflation-experiments-show-patriots-may-have-science-on-their-side-after-all.html?ref=sports

    and yet, who did people listen to? Talk shows and sports reporters who had an interest in the grand conspiracy.

    Why did they make that choice?

    Because they had a predisposition to believe them over the science.

  • davehoug

    On a warm summer evening when I am trying to enjoy the outdoors……I think I can PROVE more than two mosquitoes snuck aboard Noah’s Ark. 🙂