Science Learning

Better communication without politics

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Science  28 Sep 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6409, pp. 1351-1352
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6409.1351-f

How can preconceived beliefs be overcome so that people can avoid misperceptions about climate change? Guilbeault et al. developed an experimental system in which 2400 conservative and liberal individuals were placed into networks with either no cues as to the political orientation of other participants or visible designations. Groups were asked to interpret a graph showing trends in Arctic sea ice. At first, nearly 40% of conservatives incorrectly interpreted the data, saying that amounts of Arctic sea ice would be increasing by 2025; 26% of liberals made the same mistake. After network interactions in the absence of political identifiers, more than 85% of individuals of either ideology correctly saw the trend toward decreasing Arctic sea ice. Knowledge of the political identification or affiliation of others prevented social learning.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1722664115 (2018).

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