By Tali Sharot and Cass R. Sunstein
According to the Pew Research Center, the nation is more polarized than at any time in recent history. While some of the issues dividing us boil down to ideology and preference, there is at least one on which hard science should have a strong say — climate change. But do numbers and figures change people’s opinions?
Apparently, they do — they result in a deeper divide.
In a recent experiment, described in a paper released on Friday on the Social Science Research Network, we and our colleagues Sebastian Bobadilla-Suarez and Stephanie Lazzaro asked more than 300 Americans several climate-related questions, such as whether they believed that man-made climate change was occurring and whether the United States was right to support the recent Paris agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. On the basis of their answers, we divided participants into three groups: strong believers in man-made climate change, moderate believers and weak believers.
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