It's a question that makes environmentalists feel like they are banging their heads against a tree: How can global-warming deniers ignore the preponderance of scientific evidence? In this week's highlighted post, Jay Ingram delves into how public opinion on "scientific controversies" such as global warming and nuclear power are driven by culture and value judgments rather than scientific data. This goes for environmentalists and their foes. "Belief Is Biased: It's Vital to Know How Our Values Trump Logic" by Jay Ingram (Alternatives Journal, September 2012, v.38 no.5, pp30-31) Some of the most important controversies we face today are those with a scientific underpinning—but a public consequence. Anthropogenic climate change, GMOs and nuclear power are among them. The curious feature of these so-called “scientific” controversies is that most members of the public take a stance, pro or con, without regard for the data. To put it another way, the science really isn’t that important. Instead, a set of social and cultural values determine whether citizens will, for instance, accept that we are changing the climate and vow to do something about it, or instead argue that climate fluctuations are natural and we would be foolish to do anything.
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