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At Forbes: Four reasons people “fear science”

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It’s got to the point that, whenever we hear that people “fear science,” we expect self-righteous establishment platitudes and wagon-circling, oblivious to genuine reasons for doubt. This guy avoids those pitfalls. Summarizing a conference talk, he suggests, among other things,

Scientists need to be sure they have checked themselves, the data, and motivations before engaging with others.

Listen to those that challenge you and understand that their core values or stories may resonate more with them than a bunch of data and graphs.

Relevancy is key when talking beyond your science peer group. For example, climate change impacts on the price of cereal may resonate more than discussions about polar bears. Marshall Shepherd, “4 Reasons People Fear Science” at Forbes

It sounds so sensible, one wonders why he is allowed to express these views.

Of course, the price of cereal matters more to people on a limited budget than claims about polar bears, which they themselves never see outside a zoo. Most people in the world would not know that polar bears exist if no one told them so but they would know if food was getting scarce and cannot easily be fooled on the point. Good for him for understanding that.

See also: A study of the causes of science skepticism sails right by the most obvious cause of skepticism: Repeated untrustworthiness

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5 Replies to “At Forbes: Four reasons people “fear science”

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    Simply raising the QUESTION “Whither the Polar bear?” means the questioner and his audience don’t have anything USEFUL to do. It’s the kind of thing one might do whilst sipping wine after dinner.
    Food prices might be up, or down, right now, but the fact is that Somalia’s national response to FAMINE back in the ’70s and ’80s was to take rich white people’s money and spend it to DOUBLE their population in less than 40 years. And so the problem solving logic is related to the advertised World Crisis how?
    All these Crises are toys for bored Liberals to talk about amongst themselves. But how does that make you FEEL?

  2. 2
    News says:

    Mahuna at 1, people are naturally suspicious about environment claims that focus on exotic far off stuff. Who can afford a trip to the high Arctic to check? I think Shepherd is right to focus on concrete differences a changing environment would make where we can see it happening. Or not. If rising water levels doomed a beachfront landmark somewhere, most city dwellers would understand the problem better than if they are told that polar bears don’t have big enough ice floes.

  3. 3
    EDTA says:

    One reason he has missed, which might be the most important of all: science now (almost exclusively) makes claims that are far beyond what any one person, even with a science degree, could ever hope to personally verify. With all the examples of scientific fraud out there, replicability crises, and so on, it is only shrewd to be skeptical when scientists’ findings could have major implications for your life, and yet you know you cannot verify a single word of what they are claiming.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Apparently the author thinks that discussing the price of cereal will make people more accepting of the dire predictions of government paid climate scientists. I seriously don’t think being more open about how government imposed mandates are going to affect us personally is going to turn out how he thinks it will. Case in point, the Green New Deal

    The 10 Most Insane Requirements Of The Green New Deal
    The Green New Deal isn’t just un-American, it’s also completely bonkers. – 2019
    Excerpt: It is not hyperbole to contend that GND is likely the most ridiculous and un-American plan that’s ever been presented by an elected official to voters. Not merely because it would necessitate a communist strongman to institute, but also because the societal costs are unfathomable. The risible historic analogies Markey and Ocasio-Cortez rely on, the building of the interstate highway system or moon landing, are nothing but trifling projects compared to a plan that overhauls modernity by voluntarily destroying massive amounts of wealth and technology. That is the GND.

    While some of the specifics need to be ironed out, the plan’s authors assure us that this “massive transformation of our society” needs some “clear goals and a timeline.” The timeline is ten years. Here are some of the goals:

    Ban affordable energy. GND calls for the elimination of all fossil fuel energy production, the lifeblood of American industry and life, which includes not only all oil but also natural gas — one of the cheapest sources of American energy, and one of the reasons the United States has been able to lead the world in carbon-emissions reduction.

    Eliminate nuclear energy. The GND also calls for eliminating all nuclear power, one of the only productive and somewhat affordable “clean” energy sources available to us, in 11 years. This move would purge around 20 percent of American energy generation so you can rely on intermittent wind for your energy needs.

    Eliminate 99 percent of cars. To be fair, under the GND, everyone will need to retrofit their cars with Flintstones-style foot holes or pedals for cycling. The authors state that the GND would like to replace every “combustion-engine vehicle” — trucks, airplanes, boats, and 99 percent of cars — within ten years. Charging stations for electric vehicles will be built “everywhere,” though how power plants will provide the energy needed to charge them is a mystery.

    Gut and rebuild every building in America. Markey and Cortez want to “retrofit every building in America” with “state of the art energy efficiency.” I repeat, “every building in America.” That includes every home, factory, and apartment building, which will all need, for starters, to have their entire working heating and cooling systems ripped out and replaced with…well, with whatever technology Democrats are going invent in their committee hearings, I guess.

    Eliminate air travel. GND calls for building out “highspeed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” Good luck Hawaii! California’s high-speed boondoggle is already in $100 billion dollars of debt, and looks to be one of the state’s biggest fiscal disasters ever. Amtrak runs billions of dollars in the red (though, as we’ll see, trains that run on fossil fuels will also be phased out). Imagine growing that business model out to every state in America?

    A government-guaranteed job. The bill promises the United States government will provide every single American with a job that includes a “family-sustaining wage, family and medical leave, vacations, and a pension.” You can imagine that those left in the private sector would be funding these through some unspecified “massive” taxation. On the bright side, when you’re foraging for food, your savings will be worthless.

    Free education for life. GND promises free college or trade schools for every American.

    A salubrious diet. The GND promises the government will provide “healthy food” to every American (because there are no beans or lettuce in your local supermarket, I guess).
    A house. The GND promises that the government will provide, “safe, affordable, adequate housing” for every American citizen. I call dibs on an affordable Adams Morgan townhouse. Thank you, Ocasio-Cortez.

    Free money. The GND aims to provide, and I am not making this up, “economic security” for all who are “unable or unwilling” to work. Just to reiterate: if you’re unwilling to work, the rest of us will have your back.

    Bonus insanity: Ban meat. Ocasio-Cortez admits that we can’t get zero emissions in 10 years “because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” The only way to get rid of farting cows is to get rid of beef.

    The GND uses the word “massive” to explain the size “investments” (formerly known as “taxes”) 13 times. How will we pay for this plan? “The same way we did the New Deal, the 2008 bank bailouts and extend quantitative easing,” say Markey and Cortez, who earned her degree in economics at an institution of higher learning that should be immediately decertified. The plan itself seems to insinuate that billionaires can pay for the whole thing. Of course, best case scenario, it is estimated that instituting a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent would raise a little more than $700 billion over that decade. She does not explain how we’re going to raise the other 20 bazillion dollars it will cost to tear down modernity.

    Cortez and Markey claim that 92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans support the Green New Deal. I’m not sure where that number is derived. But ask them again when government agents come to take out their water heater.
    https://thefederalist.com/2019/02/07/ten-most-insane-requirements-green-new-deal/

    Moreover, the ‘science’ that we supposedly ‘fear’ is certainly not nearly as solid as it is cooked up to be:

    The Biggest Lie Ever Told – Man-made Global Warming – Mar 29, 2019
    Carbon Dioxide Only Causes Climate Change in UN IPCC Climate Models
    Excerpt: Today’s climate change is well within the range of natural climate variability through Earth’s 4.5 billion-year history. In fact, it is within the range of the climate change of the last 10,000 years, a period known as the Holocene, 95% of which was warmer than today. Indeed, it is now cooler than the Holocene Optimum, which spanned a period from about 9,000 to 5,000 years ago. The Optimum was named at a time when warming was understood to be a good thing in contrast to the miserable cold times that periodically cripple mankind. A small group fooled the world into believing that warming is bad and that today’s weather is warmer than ever before, all caused by the human addition of a relatively trivial amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere. It is the biggest lie ever told, and that reason alone caused many to believe.
    The lie began with the assumption that an increase in CO2 would cause an increase in temperature. In the historical record, temperature increases before CO2, so the benign gas is not causing temperature rise. Indeed, it cannot cause global warming or climate change. The only place where a CO2 increase causes a temperature increase is in the computer models promoted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This is the main reason why the model predictions are always wrong.,,,
    Some of the small lies used to perpetuate the big lie include:
    It is warmer now than ever before.
    There is more severe weather now than ever before.
    CO2 levels are the highest ever.
    Arctic and Antarctic sea ice levels are the lowest ever.
    Extinction rates are the highest ever.
    Polar bear populations are in serious decline.
    Sea levels are rising at an increasing rate.,,,
    The Trump administration has proposed to establish a Presidential Commission on Climate Security, headed by former Princeton physicist Will Happer, to expose the climate lie by disclosing how the IPCC only examined human causes of climate change. They will show how natural climate change completely overwhelms any human effect. For example, human production of CO2 is less than the uncertainty in the measurement of the transfer of CO2 from two natural sources: the oceans, and vegetation and land. In other words, if we removed all the people from the planet, a scientist left behind to measure the CO2 levels would not detect any difference.
    https://americaoutloud.com/the-biggest-lie-ever-told-man-made-global-warming/

    Moreover, only one side of the debate receives massive grants from the federal government,

    Follow the (Climate Change) Money – Dec 18th, 2018
    Excerpt: The first iron rule of American politics is: Follow the money. This explains, oh, about 80 percent of what goes on in Washington.
    Shortly after the latest Chicken Little climate change report was published last month, I noted on CNN that one reason so many hundreds of scientists are persuaded that the sky is falling is that they are paid handsomely to do so.
    I noted that “In America and around the globe governments have created a multi-billion dollar Climate Change Industrial Complex.” And then I added: “A lot of people are getting really, really rich off of the climate change industry.” According to a recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, “Federal funding for climate change research, technology, international assistance, and adaptation has increased from $2.4 billion in 1993 to $11.6 billion in 2014, with an additional $26.1 billion for climate change programs and activities provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009.”
    https://www.heritage.org/environment/commentary/follow-the-climate-change-money

  5. 5
    asauber says:

    “yet you know you cannot verify a single word of what they are claiming”

    Thus, Climate Science has pushed into Big Laughable Joke territory on its way to attempting to scare people.

    Andrew

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