Dan Satterfield at AGU (whom I hadn’t read before: thanks Greg Laden) connects the epistemology of the Tea Party (or rather of Tea Partiers) with the Dunning-Kruger effect and authoritarian thinking.
Ed Maibach and Anthony Leiserowitz at GMU, and the Yale Center for Climate Change Communication have released a fascinating study of the opinions of different political party members on climate change. This is all the more fascinating because it defines the Tea Party as a separate group and asks some interesting questions about climate science. Take a look at the highlights from the survey below and see if you notice what stood out glaringly to me.
Yup; it jumped right out.
Tea Party members are much more likely to say that they are “very well informed” about global warming than the other groups. Likewise, they are also much more likely to say they “do not need any more information” about global warming to make up their mind.
Classic illustration of not knowing enough to realize you don’t know enough, in short, Dunning-Kruger.
According to Psychologist Bob Altemeyer this is classic authoritarian behavior…
When it comes to issues surrounding their world view, authoritarians show almost no critical thinking skills. You could say these people have a much stronger force field around their idea of reality than other people do and It’s nearly shatter proof. Authoritarians can easily dismiss and minimize the overwhelming evidence on climate and replace it with global conspiracy theories, involving thousands of researchers, that to most people are obviously downright silly…
The media is often frustrated by scientists who are reluctant to plainly state an opinion or make a concrete prediction about something. They are always qualifying their answers and for a reporter looking for a good solid sound bite, this can be maddening and puzzling. i.e. if the expert doesn’t know, who does! The Dunning-Kruger effect explains this as well, and in their original paper Dunning and Kruger ( you expected someone else??) quoted Thomas Jefferson in explaining it:
Thomas Jefferson once said, “he who knows best, knows how little he knows.”
It’s true – that’s one of the things you learn when you learn about anything – how little you know about it. You learn this because you find out how much other people know and how much there is to know.
It’s too bad so many people don’t know this.