Posted by Ming Ling on November 10, 2012
Once again, “we would all benefit from more meaningful interaction and less labeling… along any dimension by which we divide humanity.”
From Tom Jacob’s “America’s Increasingly Tribal Electorate“, describing political scientist Lilliana Mason’s research:
“behavioral polarization”—anger at the other side, activism for one’s own side, and a tendency to look at political arguments through a biased lens—is driven much more strongly by that sense of team spirit, as opposed to one’s views on public policy.
According to her:
the only way to reduce the anger and bias would be “to reduce the strength or alignment of political identities.”
Yet I remain hopeful that, in spite of the dangers of the backfire effect, we can find ways to separate ideas from identities, and share knowledge both dispassionately and compassionately at the same time. As before: “Most of all, we should put wrongness back in its place– linked to the idea, not the person,” or the identity.
Posted in Reasoning | Tagged: Backfire effect, Conflicting beliefs, Perspective-taking | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on November 15, 2010
Here’s another excellent reminder of the importance of responding to others’ different beliefs gently, in “The 10 Commandments of Helping Students Distinguish Science from Pseudoscience in Psychology“:
Gently challenge students’ beliefs with sympathy and compassion. Students who are emotionally committed to paranormal beliefs will find these beliefs difficult to question, let alone relinquish. Ridiculing these beliefs can produce reactance and reinforce students’ stereotypes of science teachers as closed-minded and dismissive.
Summary of commandments:
- Delineate the features that distinguish science from pseudoscience.
- Distinguish skepticism from cynicism.
- Distinguish methodological skepticism from philosophical skepticism.
- Distinguish pseudoscientific claims from claims that are merely false.
- Distinguish science from scientists.
- Explain the cognitive underpinnings of pseudoscientific beliefs.
- Remember that pseudoscientific beliefs serve important motivational functions.
- Expose students to examples of good science as well as to examples of pseudoscience.
- Be consistent in one’s intellectual standards.
- Distinguish pseudoscientific claims from purely metaphysical religious claims.
I think the implications of these guidelines extend well beyond psychology into the nature of science more generally, and into methods for helping the broader public evaluate the connection between belief and evidence more critically. Guidelines #6 and #7 are especially valuable for describing how to do this respectfully and kindly.
Posted in Reasoning | Tagged: Backfire effect, Conflicting beliefs, Scientific literacy | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Ming Ling on November 4, 2010
On “More Talk, Less Agreement: Risk Discussion Can Hurt Consensus-Building on Science/Technology“:
When it comes to issues pertaining to science and technology, “talking it out” doesn’t seem to work. A new study shows that the more people discuss the risks and benefits of scientific endeavors, the more entrenched they become in their viewpoint, and the less likely they are to see the merits of opposing views.
Still more evidence on how people become more entrenched in their views upon actively considering contradictory information and perspectives. We really need to learn more about how emotion and identity influence these discussions, and develop better techniques for listening and communicating.
Andrew R. Binder, Dietram A. Scheufele, Dominique Brossard and Albert C. Gunther. Interpersonal Amplification of Risk? Citizen Discussions and Their Impact on Perceptions of Risks and Benefits of a Biological Research Facility”. Risk Analysis, 29 Oct 2010 DOI: 10.1111/j.1539-6924.2010.01516.x
Posted in Reasoning | Tagged: Backfire effect, Conflicting beliefs, Perspective-taking, Scientific literacy | Leave a Comment »