Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

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Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Dan Kahan

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Dan Kahan

Culture, Rationality, and Risk Perception: the Tragedy of the Science-Communication Commons

AbstractFrom climate change to the HPV vaccine to gun control, public controversy over the nature of policy-relevant science is today a conspicuous feature of democratic politics in America. A common view attributes this phenomenon to the public’s limited comprehension of science, and to its resulting vulnerability to manipulation by economically motivated purveyors of misinformation. In my talk, I will offer an alternative account. The problem, I will suggest, is not a deficit in rationality but a conflict between what’s rational at the individual and collective levels: ordinary members of the public face strong incentives – social, psychological, and economic – to conform their personal beliefs about societal risk to the positions that predominate within their cultural groups; yet when members of diverse cultural groups all form their perceptions of risk in this fashion, democratic institutions are less likely to converge on scientifically informed policies essential to the welfare of all. I will discuss empirical evidence that supports this analysis--and that suggests potential strategies for securing the collective good associated with a science communication environment free of the conflict between knowing what is known and being who we are.

BioDan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School. He is a member of the Cultural Cognition Project, an interdisciplinary team of scholars who use empirical methods to examine the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and science communication. In studies funded by the National Science Foundation, Professor Kahan and his collaborators have investigated public dissensus over climate change, public reactions to emerging technologies, and public understandings of scientific consensus across disputed issues. Articles featuring the Project’s studies have appeared in a variety of peer-reviewed scholarly journals including the Journal of Risk Research, Judgment and Decision Making, Nature Climate Change, Science, and Nature. The Project is currently engaged in a field research that features using evidence-based strategies to promote public engagement with climate science in Southeast Florida.

date

Friday, April 24, 2015
4:00pm

location

CIRES Auditorium

resources

Event Type

DLS

Amenities

Refreshments provided

2015-04-24
 
Tribe's Eye Gallery Exhibition

Tribe's Eye Gallery Exhibition

The Tribe’s Eye Project engaged Navajo Nation youth in documenting regional climate, environmental, and land-use change issues on the Navajo Nation lands using photography. Mentored by CIRES graduate students and a professional photographer, 27 tribal college students have been exploring a relevant topic on the reservation. The students from Diné College and the Southwestern Conservation Corps will present their photographs in person in Boulder.

 
We hope you can attend the event, meet the students, and see their wonderful images. The event is free and open to the public. The gallery will be open for the entire two hours. CIRES director Waleed Abdalati will welcome everyone at the beginning of the event. Please email your RSVP to david.oonk@colorado.edu.

Please contact Anne Gold with questions about this event: anne.u.gold@colorado.edu

location

CIRES Atrium
2015-04-24