This Is Your Brain On Right Wing Rhetoric

Posted by | February 24, 2012 11:10 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

Chris Mooney, author of The Republican War On Science, is working on a new book about why Republicans always seem to be fighting scientific findings.  His recent blog post talks about one particular finding.

This was my first encounter with what I now like to call the “smart idiots” effect: The fact that politically sophisticated or knowledgeable people are often more biased, and less persuadable, than the ignorant. It’s a reality that generates endless frustration for many scientists—and indeed, for many well-educated, reasonable people.

And most of all, for many liberals.

And it turns out that this “smart idiots” effect is more pronounced exists in conservatives (more educated conservatives are more biased against facts than less educated conservatives) than in liberals (less educated liberals are more biased against facts than more educated liberals).  The finding is important because it takes away the “they are stupid” argument from liberals when discussing conservative opponents on scientific issues.  I’m not sure what it leaves in terms of strategies, however, to convince people who deny evolution and human-induced climate change.  Maybe it will be in the new book.

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Copyright 2012 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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