Global Warming, Nationalism, and Reasoning With Numbers: Toward Techniques to Promote the Public's Critical Thinking About Statistics

AbstractThe increase of misinformation in the public sphere over the past decade represents an urgent societal issue, given the challenge of distinguishing veridical facts from false or misleading information. The present experiment’s results indicate that people are reliant on numerical information in their determination of whether a statistic related to global warming is representative or misleading. Of particularly practical significance, the results also demonstrate that showing participants a mixed set of revealing and misleading global warming statistics leads to an increase in global warming acceptance, rather than sowing confusion (or some sense that all data are equally dubious or compelling). Replicating prior results, nationalism and global warming acceptance are in a negative relationship. We also describe the background, design, and assessment of a curriculum intended to help the general public better distinguish between representative and misleading statistics about anthropogenic climate change. The findings highlight numerically-driven inferencing as a useful paradigm for the assessment of information relating to global warming and environmental risk.

Return to previous page