Sunday, December 28, 2014
Social psychologists attack the "denier" accusation levelled at climate skeptics
Almost any Leftist writing with a pretense at scholarship is conspicuously marred by its one-sidedness. Only "facts" that support Leftist prejudices will be considered. This of course can only be considered as propaganda and will do little to persuade anybody with some knowledge of the field concerned. Jonathan Haidt and a few others have come to realize that such writing is largely pointless. It will only persuade those who are already believers.
So in an effort to upgrade the standards of scholarship in the social sciences, Haidt has spoken the unspeakable. He believes that conservative viewpoints should be included in social science debates. He is swimming against the huge tide of suppressing conservative thought that pervades Leftist discourse. The huge efforts at censorship emanating from the Left are not for him.
I actually feel rather sorry for Haidt and his lieutenants. Haidt has not considered WHY Leftist discourse is so selective in its consideration of the facts. Leftists are selective because they HAVE to be. Reality is so at variance with central Leftist assertions that it just cannot be confronted in full. The historic Leftist assertion about the malleability of human nature, for instance, flies in the face of the whole discipline of genetics. And, as time goes by, the findings in genetics move ever more strongly towards showing an overwhelming influence of genetics on human behaviour. Human beings are NOT a "blank slate".
But Leftists need to say that people are blank slates in order to justify their authoritarianism. Leftists want to CHANGE people (can you get more authoritarian than that?). They even once dreamed of creating a "New Soviet Man". But if they are up against genetic fixity in people, attempts at change will be futile. They may say that it is not people but "the system" that they want to change but "the system" consists of what people do -- so that is a detour that leads nowhere.
So as he lets fact-based conservative ideas into his head, I think Haidt will himself become a conservative. And that will ditch his career!
At any event, I reproduce below a journal abstract of an excellent paper by Haidt and his associates that puts the case for intellectual diversity in science. I also reproduce one example from the body of the paper about Leftist bias rendering research unable to show what it purports to show. The example concerns the common Warmist accusation that climate skeptics are "deniers"
Political Diversity Will Improve Social Psychological Science
Jos L. Duarte et al
Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity - particularly diversity of viewpoints - for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diver sity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: 1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years; 2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike; 3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias m echanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority's thinking; and 4) The underrepresentation of non - liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self - selection, hosti le climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.
One closely reasoned example of bias from the paper
Denial of environmental realities: Feygina, Jost and Goldsmith (2010) sought to explain the "denial of environmental realities" using system justification theory (Jost & Banaji, 1994). In operationalizing such denial, the author s assessed the four constructs listed below, with example items in parentheses:
Construct 1: Denial of the possibility of an ecolog ical crisis ("If things continue on their present course, we will soon experience a major environmental catastrophe," reverse scored).
Construct 2: Denial of limits to growth ("The earth has plenty of natural resources if we just learn how to develop them. ")
Construct 3: Denial of the need to abide by the constraints of nature ("Humans will eventually learn enough about how nature works to be able to control it.")
Construct 4: Denial of the danger of disrupting balance in nature ("The balance of nature is s trong enough to cope with the impacts of modern industrial nations.")
The core problem with this research is that it misrepresents those who merely disagree with environmentalist values and slogans as being in "denial." Indeed, the papers Feygina et al (2010) cited in support of their "denial" questions never used the terms "deny" or denial" to describe these measures. Clark, Kotchen, and Moore (2003) referred to the items as assessing "attitudes" and Dunlap, Van Liere, Mertig, and Jones (2000) characte rized the items as tapping "primitive beliefs" (p. 439) about the environment.
The term "denial" implies that 1) the claim being denied is a "reality" - that is, a descriptive fact, and that 2) anyone who fails to endorse the pro - environmental side of these claims is engaged in a psychological process of denial. We next describe why both claims are false, and why the measures, however good they are at assessing attitudes or primitive beliefs, fail to assess denial.
Construct 1 refers to a "possibility" so that denial would be belief that an ecological crisis was impossible . This was not assessed and the measure that supposedly tapped this construct refers to no descriptive fact. Without defining "soon" or "major" or "crisis," it is impossible for this to be a fact. Without being a statement of an actual fact, disagreeing with the statement does not, indeed cannot, represent denial.
Similar problems plague Construct 2 and its measurement. Denial of the limits of growth could be measured by agreement with an alternative statement , such as "The Earth's natural resources are infinite." Agreement could be considered a form of denial of the limits of growth. However, this was not assessed. Absent a definition of "plenty ," it is not clear how this item could be refuted or confirmed. If it cannot be refuted or confirmed, it cannot be a descriptive fact. If it is not a fact, it can be agreed or disagreed with, but there is no "denial."
Even strongly agreeing with this statement does not necessarily imply denying that there are limits to growth. "Plenty " does not imply "unlimited." Moreover, the supposed reality being denied is, in fact, heavily disputed by scholars, and affirming the Earth's resources as plentiful for human needs, given human ingenuity, was a winning strategy in a famous scientific bet (Sabin, 2013) .
Construct 3 is an injunction that we need to abide by the constraints of nature. Again "constraints of nature" is a vague and undefined term. Further, the construct is not a descriptive fact - it is a philosophical/ideological prescription , and the item is a prophecy about the future, which can never be a fact. Thus, this construct might capture some attitude towards environmentalism, but it does not capture denial of anything. It would be just as unjustified to label those who disagree with the item as being in denial about human creativity, innovation, and intelligence
Construct 4 is similarly problematic. "Balance in nature" is another vague term, and the item assessing this construct is another vague prediction. One can agree or disagree with the item. And such differences may indeed by psychologically important. Disagreement, however, is not the same construct as denial.
Whether some people deny actual environmental realities, and if so, why, remains an interesting and potentially scientifically tractable question. For example, one might assess "environmental denial" by showing people a time - lapse video taken over several years showing ocean levels rising over an island, and asking people if sea levels were rising. There would be a prima facie case for identifying those who answered "no" to such a question as "denying environmental realities."
However, Feygina et al. (2010) did not perform such studies . Instead, they simply measured support for primitive environmentalist beliefs and values, called low levels of such support denial, and regressed it on the system justification scores and other measures (a third, experimental study, did not assess denial ).
None of Feygina et al's (2010) measures refer to environmental realities. Thus, the studies were not capable of producing scientific evidence of denial of environmental realities. Vague environmentalist philosophical slogans and values are unjustifiably converted to scientific truths even though no data could ever tell us whether humans should "abide by the constraints of nature."
It is not just that people have different environmental attitudes; the problem is the presumption that one set of attitudes is right and those who disagree are in denial. This conversion of a widely shared political ideology into "reality," and its concomitant treatment of dissent as denial, testifies to the power of embedded values to distort science within a cohesive moral community
Much more HERE
Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).