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posted by martyb on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:11AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the who-CAN-you-trust? dept.

Phys.org reports:

If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit "warmer," according to a new review published by Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

The review, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows that while Americans view scientists as competent, they are not entirely trusted. This may be because they are not perceived to be friendly or warm.

[...]

Focusing on scientific communication, Fiske and Dupree administered another online survey asking adults to describe public attitudes toward climate scientists specifically to provide a clearer picture of the public's seemingly mixed feelings. The researchers used a seven-scale item of distrust that included motives derived from pilot work on scientists' alleged motives. These included such motives as lying with statistics, complicating a story, showing superiority, gaining research money and pursuing a liberal agenda, among others.

The abstract for the paper can be found here.

Although distrust is low, the apparent motive to gain research money is distrusted. The literature on climate science communicators agrees that the public trusts impartiality, not persuasive agendas. Overall, communicator credibility needs to address both expertise and trustworthiness. Scientists have earned audiences’ respect, but not necessarily their trust. Discussing, teaching, and sharing information can earn trust to show scientists’ trustworthy intentions.

Related Stories

Contrary to Reporting, Climate Scientists Seen as Trustworthy by Americans 19 comments

The Center for American Progress reports:

A new study finds that scientists are seen as highly competent, and climate scientists in particular have the trust of Americans.

Unfortunately, that isn't seen as a very clickworthy finding—at least in our modern cynical age—so the authors of the study and the news release chose to spin the results as "Scientists Seen as Competent But Not Trusted by Americans." If you search that headline, you'll find thousands of results for articles on and links to this Princeton study.

You'd never guess from the headline or the news release, that when the researchers surveyed "public attitudes toward climate scientists" on a "seven-item scale of distrust," they found "distrust is low."

Frankly, the communication of the actual results of this entire study are abysmal, which is especially ironic since the title of the study is "Gaining trust as well as respect in communicating to motivated audiences about science topics." I'm afraid Princeton has gained neither here.

Related: Scientists Seen as Competent but Not Trusted by Americans

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by VLM on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:23AM

    by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:23AM (#97105)

    "they are not entirely trusted"

    99.9% of americans only have contact with scientists via advertising, where they pull out all the stereotypes, which weirdly enough only live in advertising to begin with, oh and horror movies of course. Then the advertisers have them lie or stretch the truth to sell some garbage.

    As a non religious guy, a good analogy would be my only experience being televangelists getting arrested with kids and prostitutes and weirdo backwards hicks using it as an excuse to hate comparatively more normal people (women, gays, etc), and pandering politicians who obviously don't follow any of the claimed beliefs but do want to kiss up.

    If your only experience is peculiar, going to get some peculiar impressions.

    • (Score: 2) by DrMag on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:26PM

      by DrMag (1860) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:26PM (#97213)

      which weirdly enough only live in advertising to begin with

      While your point is valid, I'd also point out that this statement isn't entirely true. The one time someone got me to sit down and watch The Big Bang Theory with them I didn't like it; in my years as a Physicist I've known too many people who are just like those characters, minus the trendy popularity.

      They are stereotypes, yes, but stereotypes exist for a reason. It's important not to blanket an entire demographic with a stereotype, but it doesn't mean there don't exist people who fit it.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:46PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:46PM (#97228)

        The one time someone got me to sit down and watch The Big Bang Theory with them I didn't like it; in my years as a Physicist I've known too many people who are just like those characters, minus the trendy popularity.

        This. The characters on that show portray the fairly rare STEM stereotype - the dork. Occasionally I've had to work with someone like that, and it's not usually enjoyable; thankfully it's only for forty hours a week. Why would I ever want to watch them on TV?

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday September 23 2014, @07:44PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @07:44PM (#97317) Journal

        Pretty much true, I've known scientist (and mathematicians) types that match up with one or more of those characters pretty closely.

        But the main part of VLMs rant was pretty close. The US has very little contact with scientists. (Its not that different anywhere in the world either. Unless you happen to live in a large university town, you don't really don't run into these people. They just don't spend any time on TV talk show circuits in any country. Still it makes a good basis for another in the never ending stream of VLM's hate on america rants).

        Some of the Actual rocket scientists we saw routinely during the effort to get to the moon were probably some of the best exposure routinely found in american media.

        Carl Sagen, Steve Squyres got a lot of air time in the last 20 years. As did some of the nuclear scientists on occasion.

        Still I don't see this as a big deal. We don't routinely see members of any specific occupation on TV other than politicians and cops and doctors. We'd be bored to tears if we did.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:27AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:27AM (#97109)

    Scientists are usually depicted as a Dr. Frankenstein standing in front of a huge contraption that "shrinks the kids" or whatnot.

    OTOH blue collar workers are like, "Hey buddy, how bout them Steelers huh! Think we're going to beat the Broncos on Sunday?"

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Blackmoore on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:56PM

      by Blackmoore (57) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:56PM (#97151) Journal
      Or depicted as some kind of genius who has social or personality disorders. or is addicted to pain killers. 

      and why not? Scientists are about as far away from hollywood as you can get. the people writing them have never been, and never associate with scientists.
      So there must be something wrong with them.  Or anyone who isnt an writer/actor/director.. or male..
      • (Score: 2) by etherscythe on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:55PM

        by etherscythe (937) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:55PM (#97233) Journal

        In fact, because Hollywood plays on common perceptions and stereotypes, people may feel closer to Hollywood than they do to actual scientists. They have no way to relate - and scientists are these remote beings who are subject to all manner of misperceptions and visibility bias (i.e. the ones who go on television form the impressions of the entire group, subject to the spin of whatever documentary or program they're part of). It doesn't help that many of them work 80-hour weeks and hardly interact with anyone other than research partners, and their mannerisms do not line up with the average viewers.

        As far as the average person is concerned, science is a bunch of ivory-tower wizardry only tangentially related to reality (AKA the daily grind); The Big Companies put the scientists in some sort of closed bubble and let them do their arcane Science Magic and every once in awhile a new pill or techno-gadget pops out. And yeah, they mostly work, and yeah they seem to have good intentions, but you just can't trust somebody who doesn't seem to be grounded in your reality.

        --
        "Fake News: anything reported outside of my own personally chosen echo chamber"
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Justin Case on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:38AM

    by Justin Case (4239) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:38AM (#97113) Journal

    Scientists are not trusted because they don't tell the lies people want to hear.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by MorbidBBQ on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:53AM

    by MorbidBBQ (3210) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:53AM (#97115)
    Its important to be skeptical of scientific results, mostly based on the funding. Most of climate change science is funded by federal grants. If they instill fear, its easier to tax us. So they pay scientists to instill fear.

    It starts at home; we need to change our mentality instead of being taxed to bail out solyndra, or subsidize wind energy:
    Don't be wasteful.
    Recycle.
    Repair instead of replace.

    When the starcraft map runs out of minerals...its game over for everyone.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:05PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:05PM (#97118)

      > Most of climate change science is funded by federal grants. If they instill fear, its easier to tax us.

      And what is the opposition to climate change science funded by? Average joes with a mortgage and workworking hobby?

      • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:21PM

        by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @12:21PM (#97121)

        "Average joes with a mortgage and workworking hobby?"

        Those are the guys who are going to get screwed, with no result, so if they're wise, they'll oppose it.

        The plan is:

        1. Crank up taxes on the little guy

        2. .....

        3. Magically the environment is saved!

        #2 has no logical connection between #1 and #3, although given the whole idea comes from the guys who give us obamacare which is far enough to piss off the entrenched interests but not far enough to actually fix anything, 1984 style eternal warfare in the middle east, the DMV, and the post office, I wouldn't expect any success at all, if anything giving them more money will just encourage them resulting in the situation being even worse than if they didn't have the money.

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Zinho on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:19PM

          by Zinho (759) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:19PM (#97159)

          The plan is:
          1. Crank up taxes on the little guy
          2. .....
          3. Magically the environment is saved!
          #2 has no logical connection between #1 and #3

          I disagree. Fuel taxes are a great example of this; in Europe cars have had much higher fuel economy than U.S. cars, largely in response to high taxes on the fuel. Turbo/supercharger technology is ubiquitous there, many cars get 50+ mpg. And if want to argue that they're not powerful enough at that mileage, drivers on the Autobahn would like to make some counterpoints. A similar shift happened in the U.S. when gas prices exceeded $4+/gal during an economic downturn - people started buying smaller, more efficient cars instead of pickups that will never haul a load or go off-road.

          Evidence shows that taxing energy use is effective, and causes no harm to those taxed for it. There was even an article here [soylentnews.org] on the 21st saying as much. Of course, it was a scientist saying that, and you're probably American, so you're having trust issues.

          I think one of the most insightful comments in this discussion so far is that scientists don't tell the right lies. Sometimes the world simply isn't what you'd like it to be, and people who care more about what is right (instead of who) and seeing what's really there will tell you uncomfortable truths occasionally. Personally, I'd rather believe what the world is really like than delude myself that the world is really like I believe.

          --
          "Space Exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." -Buzz Aldrin
          • (Score: 2) by VLM on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:35PM

            by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:35PM (#97170)

            "so you're having trust issues"

            With our corrupt .gov, yes. The scientists are merely a big hand wavy excuse for yet another sales/excise tax.

            If the scientists were running the tax I'd trust them, but what we have is organized crime using them as spokesmodels in a PR campaign. Of course the PR campaign exists solely to screw us over, thats the only thing they ever do. Its not the scientists fault someone chose them as spokesmodels for this particular scam.

            Cars are a fad / style purchase choice here in the USA. That complicates things. The SUV fad had peaked and was dying at that time anyway. Meanwhile conspicuous consumption, the root of the problem, doesn't get discouraged by increasing prices, if anything it encourages it. Nobody buys gold, diamonds, and yachts because they look nice or made economic sense, its because they like showing off how much money they spent. Raising the cost of a good like that (by taxes or whatever) is not going to discourage sales at all.

            You'll never hear an american, at least in the mass media, say something like "Better not buy real estate, look at how prices are going up up up!"

            • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:33PM

              by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:33PM (#97189) Journal

              > Nobody buys gold, diamonds, and yachts because they look nice or made economic sense, its because they like showing off how much money they spent.

              Are you saying that if cars were as expensive as yachts, everyone would own them anyway? Yes, some rich people would buy them as status symbols but I'm pretty sure the majority of the population would be taking the bus.

            • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Tuesday September 23 2014, @06:51PM

              by urza9814 (3954) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @06:51PM (#97298) Journal

              You'll never hear an american, at least in the mass media, say something like "Better not buy real estate, look at how prices are going up up up!"

              Real estate is an investment. Gas is a consumable.

              Of course you wouldn't hear someone say not to buy real estate because prices are going up. Because the plan is always to sell that real estate again at some point. You can't sell gas after you've used it. It's more like food. I have heard people say for example that they'll have to stop buying bacon because prices are going up.

              Maybe the ultra-wealthy will still buy the big SUVs as a status symbol, but the vast majority of Americans can't afford status symbols.

              Of course, that's not to say that raising fuel prices is always good. The people who can't afford higher fuel prices probably can't afford a more fuel-efficient car either...

              Although all of this also ignores the fact that, despite how many cars are on the road, they're not the greatest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly a third of all US emissions come from electricity generation. Go big with nuclear, solar, wind and other carbon-neutral sources and that will come pretty close to meeting the IPCC's estimates required to limit warming to 2C. But we'd have to do that before 2020....

          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:39PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:39PM (#97348) Journal

            I disagree. Fuel taxes are a great example of this; in Europe cars have had much higher fuel economy than U.S. cars, largely in response to high taxes on the fuel. Turbo/supercharger technology is ubiquitous there,

            I suggest you check your facts. European cars do not fare all that well in fuel economy, turbo charged or not. Many that appear to have reasonably good mileage all seem to require premium fuel.

            http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/Mercedes-Benz2014.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]
            http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/Audi2014.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]
            http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymake/Fiat2014.shtml [fueleconomy.gov]

            For a while I was lusting after a Mini Cooper, only to find it wanted premium gas, and got worse mileage that my middle of the line detroit monster of the same year.

            --
            No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
            • (Score: 2) by Zinho on Wednesday September 24 2014, @12:29AM

              by Zinho (759) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @12:29AM (#97411)

              Fair enough; in my experience European gas stations only sell one gasoline grade, and it's premium. Putting a turbo on a gasoline engine doesn't add much in the way of fuel economy, either; it just gives more horsepower at high RPMs.

              What you're not accounting for is that the best fuel economy on Euro cars is in their diesel engines; here are my alternate links for your consideration:
              Merecdes [fueleconomy.gov]
              Audi [fueleconomy.gov]
              Volkswagen [fueleconomy.gov]

              That's where your turbo technology gives a big win on fuel economy. Most of my European friends drive diesel at home, and in my opinion it's high time for the U.S. to get over its phobia of diesel as a fuel.

              PS - sorry for substituting VW for Fiat; Fiat doesn't sell any diesel cars in the U.S. market.

              --
              "Space Exploration is not endless circles in low earth orbit." -Buzz Aldrin
            • (Score: 1) by albert on Wednesday September 24 2014, @03:44AM

              by albert (276) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @03:44AM (#97477)

              Convert MPG and fuel prices into $/mile or mile/$ or similar. The premium cars are usually a bit more fuel efficient, so they come out ahead despite the higher cost fuel.

              • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday September 24 2014, @05:09AM

                by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 24 2014, @05:09AM (#97491) Journal

                Not in the US. And Not without a turbo.
                I've done that math. (Its been years ago).

                You might see a payout if you drove cross country at highway speeds, but it all disappears in typical in-town traffic usage.
                Its very difficult to find comparable cars/engines where one is set up for premium and the other is set for regular.

                --
                No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday September 24 2014, @01:19AM

            by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @01:19AM (#97426) Journal

            Evidence shows that taxing energy use is effective, and causes no harm to those taxed for it.

            not exactly tax... but here when fuel prices went up due to the illegal wars so did all our food prices, due to overall transport costs increasing. They haven't come back down again. that has harmed my bank balance.

        • (Score: 2) by BasilBrush on Tuesday September 23 2014, @08:51PM

          by BasilBrush (3994) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @08:51PM (#97334)

          VLM it's too late for your FUD.

          Carbon taxes do work and don't hurt:
          https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=14/09/21/194213 [soylentnews.org]

          Obamacare works and all the conservative FUD was proved wrong:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCb8aRTIuxM [youtube.com]

          --
          Hurrah! Quoting works now!
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:32PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:32PM (#97141)

      The scientists just analyse data and make conclusions. The people that are trying to "instill fear" are the ones pushing an agenda and they will push it no matter what the data supports. If this person turns out to be a scientist, by occupation, then they are only a person with an opinion unless the idea is supported by unbiased facts.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Wootery on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:53PM

        by Wootery (2341) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @01:53PM (#97150)

        The scientists just analyse data and make conclusions.

        Ha! No.

        Studies funded by a party with a clear 'desired outcome' are very often conducted to favour the stance of the sponsoring party.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @10:47PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @10:47PM (#97381)

          conducted to favour the stance of the sponsoring party

          Science, properly done, has other folks repeating the experiment and seeing whether they get the same result.
          The Utah "cold fusion" claims are an example of the Scientific Method working well.

          Medical studies are another facet that demonstrates an orthogonal approach.
          If the study of a new pill shows the opposite of the desired results, that study will not be publish and will instead be buried.
          If a cop or prosecutor [wikipedia.org] pulled that crap (in a properly working society), he'd be blackballed.

          -- gewg_

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by hoochiecoochieman on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:16PM

      by hoochiecoochieman (4158) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:16PM (#97183)

      How dare those eeeevil scientists being paid for their work! Oh, the horror! Scientists should be like every good God-fearing American, and work for free, solely for the pleasure of making their bosses rich!

      Those evil bastards, getting money to work. What will they ask for, next? 40-hour weeks? How dare they?

      Now seriously, if you don't trust those who caused the most spectacular advances ever in human well-being and are the main responsible for making your country the greatest world power, you are doomed. Who will you trust, then? Bankers? Lawyers? Preachers?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:52PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @04:52PM (#97232)

        Now seriously, if you don't trust those who caused the most spectacular advances ever in human well-being and are the main responsible for making your country the greatest world power, you are doomed. Who will you trust, then? Bankers? Lawyers? Preachers?

        Engineers, obviously.

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:56PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @09:56PM (#97359) Journal

      Its important to be skeptical of scientific results, mostly based on the funding.

      Science, by its very definition, is the practice of being skeptical of scientific results.

      People are smarter than you think. If anything, people are thoroughly trained by years and years of highly touted scientific pronouncements that have proven wrong (some horribly so) over the decades, to doubt or withhold judgement on just about all scientific pronouncements.

      Coffee is bad for you, oops, no its not, alcohol even in moderation is bad for you, well, no, that's not true either, marijuana, salt, beef, fish, fruit, grains, Irreversibly polluted rivers, crime is rising, no, wait crime is falling, crime is genetic, no its learned, no its societies fault, protect your kids from germs, no let them build antibodies,...

      It goes on and on year after year. Science corrects itself, and the common man, after tilting at a few scientific windmills in his youth learns to sit out the battle. The common man has done EXACTLY what the scientists have taught him to do.

      And another thing: Where's my flying car!?!!

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by fritsd on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:14PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:14PM (#97157) Journal

    How dare scientists say things that could make people uncomfortable?

    Who do they think they are, anyway.

    The people want reassuring lies [scienceblogs.com], so that's what the advertisers and politicians give them.

    We see the same reaction today in people in Sierra Leone [bbc.com] who do not want to hear "you have ebola and must be quarantined". It must be a government conspiracy.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by MrGuy on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:30PM

    by MrGuy (1007) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:30PM (#97168)

    The credibility problem for climate science is that it's very hard to relate to.

    This is science on the timeframe of decades-to-centuries, studying effects that would have started before any current researchers were born, and extrapolating out until many current researchers are dead. And it's studying effects that aren't well understood or just being discovered, which are difficult to impossible to recreate in a lab. The climate is a vast array of interacting systems, and the way they relate to each other is in many cases not terribly well understood. No one knows exactly what the effects of a given change to the environment will be - no one's ever dumped billions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere in a controlled experiment and recorded exactly what the effects were.

    That's not to say the science is bad, or wrong. There is a lot of credible science behind how greenhouse gasses work, and a lot of plausible evidence for climate change and the earth getting warmer. But some of it's based on things like antarctic ice cores or other things that aren't immediately intuitive. It's extrapolating from an observable effect in a controlled lab environment to an effect on a planetary scale. The exact effect is fuzzy - extrapolating certain numbers that aren't themselves certain forward.

    Now bump that up against something people CAN more intuitively relate to (Global warming? Last winter was the coldest on record!) and the long-term predictive science that's based on a lot of very good but admittedly imprecise inference, and you can see the reason there's skepticism about the specifics.

    And where there's uncertainty, there's room for agendas. Climate change science gets mistrusted for the same reason that "is there a biological basis for homosexuality?" (or, with admittedly more of a stretch of the term "uncertainty") "is the earth really 6 billion years old, or more recent?" gets doubted. People tend to believe the studies that agree with their beliefs and look for reasons to doubt the ones that don't.

    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:54PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:54PM (#97200) Journal

      The credibility problem for climate science is that it's very hard to relate to.

      +

      If scientists want the public to trust their research suggestions, they may want to appear a bit "warmer,"

      Well, with this global warming, a bit longer and people will start asking for "cooler" scientists.

      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
    • (Score: 2) by khallow on Tuesday September 23 2014, @10:56PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday September 23 2014, @10:56PM (#97384) Journal

      The credibility problem for climate science is that it's very hard to relate to.

      I think the real credibility problem for climate science is the false certainty and the propaganda moves. For example, the UN is routinely announcing that 2C is the maximum temperature change possible before destructive climate change effects happen and they have a very specific amount of CO2 emission reduction in mind. But their estimate of the long term CO2 temperature forcing from a doubling of CO2 varies from high to low by a factor of three (and that in turn results in even greater range for CO2 levels needed to achieve that 2C rise in temperature).

      Even the favored phrase, "climate change" indicates this problem. Why use a vague label that doesn't even imply a human contribution for a very specific sort, human-induced global warming via greenhouse gas emissions? There's a certain group of advocates who are conveniently vague when they want to be and conveniently very specific when they want to be.

      As to the propaganda moves, there's a history of shoddy or even fraudulent research being rushed out in time for climate change talking points such as Mann and Jones's "hockey stick" paper in 1999 (which was used to claim that warming to that time was the worst in thousands of years) to a recent "97%" paper by Cook et al (which established the current, heavily abused "97% consensus" argument for climate change). By the time the paper gets refuted, there's usually more research backing it up so advocates can move seamlessly to the next paper.

      We even see it in this discussion (here [soylentnews.org] and here [soylentnews.org]) with a recent paper that is claimed to show that carbon/energy taxes don't harm anyone, even though the research in question doesn't actually study that (they study correlation of UK manufacture employment and factory closings with respect to a recent energy tax, which is far from the only sort of harm that can come from such things). This is another case where tangential research gets spun into a talking point which greatly exaggerates the relevance, scope, and certainty of the research.

      • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 24 2014, @04:23AM

        by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @04:23AM (#97485) Journal

        a recent "97%" paper by Cook et al (which established the current, heavily abused "97% consensus" argument for climate change).

        I just hate it when people abuse a 97% consensus! I mean, they treat it just like it was a 98% consensus! (By the way, did you see John Oliver's take on the "Fair and Balanced" presentation of the 97% consensus? Hilarious!) Of course, if it was actually refuted, it wouldn't be a 97% consensus, would it! More research backing up a theory is usually called "confirmation".

        So no wonder some have trust issues with scientists? 97% of scientist are out to get them!! That is a higher ratio that with zombies!

        --
        #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
        • (Score: 2) by khallow on Wednesday September 24 2014, @02:00PM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 24 2014, @02:00PM (#97658) Journal

          I guess when you haven nothing to add to a discussion, there's always sarcasm.

    • (Score: 2) by Non Sequor on Wednesday September 24 2014, @03:04AM

      by Non Sequor (1005) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @03:04AM (#97459) Journal

      You're partway there. The other end of it is that deliberate ignorance may be a rational (albeit not conscious) response under certain circumstances.

      Assume that even when people are *right* on a major issue, they may use it as a wedge to gain concessions on other issues only tangentially related to the issue they're *right* on. Also, assume that it's difficult to untangle the distinctions between these issues. From there, if you are more concerned about the tangential issues, and you disagree with the direction those issues are being pushed towards by the guys who are *right* on one issue, your best move is to refuse to acknowledge that they are *right* about anything.

      Another aspect is that it's also rational to parlay your strongest arguments into a prop for weaker arguments, which sets the stage for the situation above. Not being able to differentiate between your strongest arguments and your weakest arguments may also confer an advantage.

      --
      Write your congressman. Tell him he sucks.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Bob9113 on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:58PM

    by Bob9113 (1967) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @02:58PM (#97180)

    While there may be cases where scientists can be more warm and also tell the truth, there are many cases where they cannot. Here is a simple example:

    Warm: Every life is sacred, and every person deserves the best medical care we have to offer.

    True: The value of a life is something we, as a society, must establish, so that we can allocate our limited resources to medical care efficiently. No matter how we slice it, and whether we choose to accept it or not, some whose lives could be extended will die.

    It is true that most people do not want to hear the truth. They want a politician, or Jesus, or their enabling spouse, or some other comforting liar to give them a big warm hug and a cookie. Science doesn't have infinite hugs and cookies to give out, because it is constrained by reality.

    And, as an aside, that endless supply of liar cookies is making us fat (literally and metaphorically).

  • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:19PM

    by buswolley (848) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @03:19PM (#97184)

    For the most part I neither trust nor think competent non-scientists (programmers are generally exempted from competency part of this)

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    subicular junctures
    • (Score: 1) by pnkwarhall on Tuesday September 23 2014, @05:18PM

      by pnkwarhall (4558) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @05:18PM (#97249)

      So you "write off" the majority of humanity? How's that working for you? What effect does it have on your life to trust almost noone? What does "trust" even mean to you?

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      Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @06:36PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 23 2014, @06:36PM (#97295)

        He's a little harsh, but I'm the same way. I trust people in that I don't think they're going to murder me and eat my children, or that everyone is out to get me.

        Their opinions on scientific, psychological, or socioeconomic topics are completely meaningless, unless they have some level of expertise more than I in those directions. I don't trust what they think, unless there's some evidence, and I don't think them competent in those areas. This is rarely, if ever, an issue.

        Similarly, I only trust a few of my own opinions, and they're all in areas I've had education or have applied research in. I have formal education in both applied and theoretical computing, but I know my limits. Similarly, I've taken classes and have permits for a few trades, like electrical work and plumbing. To the extent of a homeowner, I feel I can trust myself. When it comes to the economy or sociological things, my opinions are as shitty and irrelevant as everyone else's. Because of this, I meet with bank advisors to deal with loans; I deal with doctors to deal with health issues, and I deal with certified mechanics to fix my car. I trust them in those areas, but I don't trust their thoughts otherwise.

        • (Score: 2) by aristarchus on Wednesday September 24 2014, @07:25AM

          by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday September 24 2014, @07:25AM (#97523) Journal

          Appeal to authority, one of the time-honored problems in epistemology. So, you trust someone because they know more, at least in that particular area, than you do. But how do you know that is the case? To judge the authority competent, you would have to have at least as much knowledge as the authority, in which case you would know yourself without having to appeal to the authority! So, physician, heal thyself?

          And are you sure about that "not murder me and eat my children" thing? Are there any financial advisors or preppers in your neighborhood?

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          #Freearistarchus, again!!!!!1!!
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24 2014, @07:50AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 24 2014, @07:50AM (#97531)

            would you trust anyone but a qualified surgeon to operate on you?

            would you trust anyone but an engineer to design the skyscrapers you work in?

            would you trust anyone but a pharmacist to dispense the correct medication for you?

            would you trust anyone but your wife with your most intimate secrets and desires?

            would you trust anyone but the most rotten unscrupulous lawyer to win compensation for you in court?

            would you trust anyone but congress to waste all your precious hard earned tax dollars for you?

            anyone who trusts politicians and journalists to interpret climate change data for them is a moron

      • (Score: 2) by buswolley on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:28PM

        by buswolley (848) on Tuesday September 23 2014, @11:28PM (#97402)

        It was a joke. Lay people dont trust me cuz Im a scientist, well I dont trust them cuz they are not.

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        • (Score: 1) by pnkwarhall on Friday September 26 2014, @03:41AM

          by pnkwarhall (4558) on Friday September 26 2014, @03:41AM (#98484)
          I'm not in as serious a mood tonight, and your joke came off well in the context of the fallout -- I got a few lols from the succeeding comments, particularly:

          Their opinions on scientific, psychological, or socioeconomic topics are completely meaningless

          Says someone posting seriously on the Soylent message board! Oh the irony!

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          Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven