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People acquire their scientific knowledge by consulting others who share their values and whom they therefore trust and understand. Usually, this strategy works just fine. We live in a science-communication environment richly stocked with accessible, consequential facts. As a result, groups with different values routinely converge on the best evidence for, say, the value of adding fluoride to water, or the harmlessness of mobile-phone radiation. The trouble starts when this communication environment fills up with toxic partisan meanings — ones that effectively announce that ‘if you are one of us, believe this; otherwise, we’ll know you are one of them’. In that situation, ordinary individuals’ lives will go better if their perceptions of societal risk conform with those of their group.

Dan Kahan - Why we are poles apart on climate change

at Nature News

Remember this: A person’s most deeply held values can cloud their judgment about seemingly factual scientific matters. They must weigh the risks and rewards of believing something. It is not enough to say something is true or false. We must ask how we can MAKE it true in the lives of those we are communicating with.

(via jtotheizzoe)

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