EDITORIAL

When facts are not enough

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Science  01 Jun 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6392, pp. 943
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau2565

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Summary

Science is based on a shared respect for the scientific method—the principle that, by gathering and analyzing data and information, scientists and others can draw conclusions that are robust and generalizable across cultures and ideologies. Scientists furthermore assume that disagreements can be resolved by more facts. So when people object to the reality of climate change with science-y sounding arguments—“the data is wrong,” or “it's just a natural cycle,” or even, “we need to study it longer”—the natural response of scientists is simple and direct: People need more data. But this approach often doesn't work and can even backfire. Why? Because when it comes to climate change, science-y sounding objections are a mere smokescreen to hide the real reasons, which have much more to do with identity and ideology than data and facts.