Have you ever wondered why people can be so horrendously ill-informed about a matter in the political sphere? You know, that despite all kinds of evidence to support gun control, global warming, evolution etc they still hold insanely stupid opinions? There might be a reason for that: http://www.vox.com/2014/4/6/5556462/brain-dead-how-politics-makes-us-stupid I won't copy-paste the article nor will I try to do it justice by summing it up, but this paragraph stood out at me: "In another experiment Kahan and his coauthors gave out sample biographies of highly accomplished scientists alongside a summary of the results of their research. Then they asked whether the scientist was indeed an expert on the issue. It turned out that people’s actual definition of "expert" is "a credentialed person who agrees with me." For instance, when the researcher’s results underscored the dangers of climate change, people who tended to worry about climate change were 72 percentage points more likely to agree that the researcher was a bona fide expert. When the same researcher with the same credentials was attached to results that cast doubt on the dangers of global warming, people who tended to dismiss climate change were 54 percentage points more likely to see the researcher as an expert." This should represent nothing new for anyone here; we've seen expert testimony called into question time and time again on any number of factual issues. Hell, we're busy having a "debate" about heliocentricity with ASR right now. There's an explanation for that, too: "Kahan is quick to note that, most of the time, people are perfectly capable of being convinced by the best evidence. There’s a lot of disagreement about climate change and gun control, for instance, but almost none over whether antibiotics work, or whether the H1N1 flu is a problem, or whether heavy drinking impairs people’s ability to drive. Rather, our reasoning becomes rationalizing when we’re dealing with questions where the answers could threaten our tribe — or at least our social standing in our tribe. And in those cases, Kahan says, we’re being perfectly sensible when we fool ourselves." Assuming this is true - and, for the record, I completely do assume it's true - what does that mean for us? Study author Dan Kahan assumes that once the phenomenon of identity protection cognition better, they can tailor communications to counter that. But really? Thoughts, teh JC?