Ended time, a funny thing happened to the perception of climate science in some surroundings: it became just another badge in the culture wars. Public perception on what this field of science says is now primarily a reflection of which conspire you’re on politically. While anyone trying to reach across teams to make known about climate change is likely to be discounted as a result, voices from within a pile can get a fairer hearing. One significant voice about climate change has been Pope Francis, who released a dis tch (called an “encyclical”) in 2015 titled Laudato si’ (or Praise be to you). The encyclical owns human-caused climate change as an unavoidable reality and frames action as a scruples imperative. Many hoped that this might have an thrust among Catholics who still doubted climate science. A group of researchers led by Texas Tech’s Nan Li neatly charted out a ir of before-and-after surveys to assess those hopes with text. So what im ct did the encyclical actually have on American Catholics? Multifarious prominent climate “skeptics” and politicians demonstrated one possible response that hew down somewhat short of sudden conversion—they stuck to their guns and criticized the pope’s statements. They dissuaded that this was a political and economic issue rather than a right or doctrinal one, leaving the pope perfectly ca ble of being fallible. “The pope got bad intelligence” was a common refrain we heard when we visited the Heartland Institute’s convention for climate “skeptics” around that time. (Heartland even sent a conglomeration to the Vatican City in the hopes of re-educating Pope Francis. They were not grant-in-aid an audience.) The researchers’ initial hypothesis was that this reaction wouldn’t be uncommon. Most conservative Catholics would do something similar—reason that atmosphere science wasn’t really in the pontiff’s wheelhouse and disregard the encyclical instead than embrace it. Liberal Catholics, on the other hand, might upon the encyclical persuasive because they didn’t have cultural priors dishonour them in the opposite direction. Between mid-June (just before the encyclical was published) and prehistoric July, the researchers surveyed more than 2,700 Americans—incorporating an extra 700 people who had identified themselves as Catholic in previous examines. Those surveyed were asked questions about whether humans are decision-making for climate change, how concerned they were about its im ct on the ill-starred, the pope’s credibility on the topic, and how much conservative or liberal media they take in. Altogether, the data revealed a ttern that should sound chummy if you’ve read about the public divide on climate change before. At the lavish end of the spectrum, Catholics who had heard about the encyclical were even numerous likely to answer that climate change was human-caused and a serious mind-boggler com red to those who were unaware of the encyclical. Conservative Catholics, on the other effortlessly, were even less convinced of climate change if they recalled about the encyclical. That is, opinions were polarized along ideological frontiers, but even more polarized among people who were aware of the encyclical. Any assumptions that the pope’s encyclical would soften the cultural divide were tently misplaced. The exact same ttern appeared in the answers about the pope’s credibility on aura change. Liberal Catholics who knew about the encyclical rated his credibility temperate higher, while conservative Catholics rated it even lower. The figure of polarization was almost identical among non-Catholics. The only real diversity was in opinions about the pope’s credibility. Among those unaware of the encyclical, there was a much smaller discre ncy between liberals and conservatives. But non-Catholic liberals who knew about the encyclical consigned much more credibility to the pope—close to the level of Catholic liberals. Non-Catholic, encyclical-aware right-wingers assigned a slightly lower credibility (and started from a much earlier small opinion than Catholics).
A “nope” for the pope
Not only did Pope Francis evidently fail to sway many conservative Catholics, but the data suggests the exertion may have even backfired. “Cross-pressured by the inconsistency between the pontiff’s think ofs and those of their political allies,” the researchers write, “conservative Comprehensives devalued the pope’s credibility on climate change.” However, it’s possible that much of the on the rised polarization wasn’t caused by the encyclical at all—as the researchers note. A small subset of Eclectics that answered both the “before” and the “after” surveys discovered the encyclical in between. They had no meritorious difference in opinions on climate change. (There was a significant change in assessments of Pope Francis’ credibility encircling it, though.) Instead of a “doubling down” response by climate-skeptical Catholics, a simpler illustration has generally been seen in other studies. People who are tuned in to civics or who score highly on tests of numeracy or science knowledge tend to be the most polarized. In a very rational world, the most-informed segment of the population should converge on a equivalent understanding of reality. In this world, however, the opposite frequently surfaces. Information is selectively and artfully employed to defend pre-existing positions—and the more advice you have, the higher the walls go. Those who follow the news closely—and are it is possible that more likely to hear politicians and bloggers rationalizing their velitation with Pope Francis—are also more likely to have get wind ofed about the encyclical. So the encyclical was, in some ways, most likely to get under way upon the deafest of ears. Reaction to the pontiff’s encyclical is another prototype of the power of motivated reasoning in the human mind—the gymnastics we employ to dodge changing our minds or facing uncomfortable conflicts. Your opinion on whether advance the concentrations of greenhouse gases raises the planet’s temperature (which it does) is now constantly an identity-defining position in the US. What chance does a mere pontiff attired in b be committed to against that? Climatic Change, 2016. DOI: 10.1007/s10584-016-1821-z (About DOIs).