an unanticipated consequence of
Jack M. Balkin
Jack Balkin: jackbalkin at yahoo.com
Bruce Ackerman bruce.ackerman at yale.edu
Ian Ayres ian.ayres at yale.edu
Mary Dudziak mary.l.dudziak at emory.edu
Joey Fishkin joey.fishkin at gmail.com
Heather Gerken heather.gerken at yale.edu
Abbe Gluck abbe.gluck at yale.edu
Mark Graber mgraber at law.umaryland.edu
Stephen Griffin sgriffin at tulane.edu
Bernard Harcourt harcourt at uchicago.edu
Scott Horton shorto at law.columbia.edu
Andrew Koppelman akoppelman at law.northwestern.edu
Marty Lederman msl46 at law.georgetown.edu
Sanford Levinson slevinson at law.utexas.edu
David Luban david.luban at gmail.com
Gerard Magliocca gmaglioc at iupui.edu
Jason Mazzone mazzonej at illinois.edu
Linda McClain lmcclain at bu.edu
John Mikhail mikhail at law.georgetown.edu
Frank Pasquale pasquale.frank at gmail.com
Nate Persily npersily at gmail.com
Michael Stokes Paulsen michaelstokespaulsen at gmail.com
Deborah Pearlstein dpearlst at princeton.edu
Rick Pildes rick.pildes at nyu.edu
Richard Primus raprimus at umich.edu
K. Sabeel Rahmansabeel.rahman at brooklaw.edu
Alice Ristroph alice.ristroph at shu.edu
Neil Siegel siegel at law.duke.edu
Brian Tamanaha btamanaha at wulaw.wustl.edu
Mark Tushnet mtushnet at law.harvard.edu
Adam Winkler winkler at ucla.edu
Do more educated people see more risk -- or less -- in climate change?
The answer is neither. In a survey of a nationally representative sample of 1,500 U.S. adults, education level had a correlation pretty close to zero (r = -0.02, p = 0.11) with climate change risk perceptions.
These data were collected by the Cultural Cognition Project as part of an ongoing study of science literacy, numeracy, & risk perception. In results that we describe in a working paper, science literacy and numeracy also have very minimal impact on perceptions of climate change --assessed independently of cultural worldviews. Once cultural worldviews are taken into account, the impact of science literacy & numeracy on climate change risk perceptions depends on peoples' cultural orientations: as they get more science literate & numerate, egalitarian communitarians see more risk, but hierarchical individualists see even less.
Or in other words, enhanced science literacy & numeracy are associated not with convergence on any particular view (supported by science or otherwise) but with greater cultural polarization.
Education level, in contrast, not only has no overall impact, but is not associated with greater cultural polarization either.
The lesson is clear: if you want to fit your perceptions of risk to your cultural values, you need to do more than go to college. You have to study really hard in math & science!
Actually, I'm sounding much more cynical here than I mean to. As we discuss in the paper, this pathology isn't intractable -- but if one doesn't even know that cultural polarization increases as science literacy does or why, then the problem is unlikely to go away.