Archive for September 23, 2013

Knowing more doesn’t necessarily lead to correct reasoning: Politics changes problem-solving

Thanks to Elizabeth Patitsas for this piece.  Fascinating experiment — people solve the exact same math problem differently if the context is “whether a skin cream works” or “whether gun control laws work,” depending on their politics.  The statement below is an interesting interpretation of the results and relates to my questions about whether computing education research actually leads to any change.

For study author Kahan, these results are a fairly strong refutation of what is called the “deficit model” in the field of science and technology studies—the idea that if people just had more knowledge, or more reasoning ability, then they would be better able to come to consensus with scientists and experts on issues like climate change, evolution, the safety of vaccines, and pretty much anything else involving science or data (for instance, whether concealed weapons bans work). Kahan’s data suggest the opposite—that political biases skew our reasoning abilities, and this problem seems to be worse for people with advanced capacities like scientific literacy and numeracy. “If the people who have the greatest capacities are the ones most prone to this, that’s reason to believe that the problem isn’t some kind of deficit in comprehension,” Kahan explained in an interview.

via Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math | Mother Jones.

September 23, 2013 at 1:13 am 2 comments


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