University of Michigan professor Andrew Hoffman discusses climate change skepticism from a social scientist’s perspective:
So when I hear scientists say, “The data speak for themselves,” I cringe. Data never speak. And data generally and most often are politically and socially inflected.
I’m hesitating for a second because I’ve learned that making analogies can be tricky. But I do think that there is a process by which, for example, the connection between cigarette smoking and cancer for decades had a scientific consensus that this was an issue, then a social process begins, and then it becomes accepted.
The interesting thing with climate change, I find, is that positioning on climate change is strikingly predictable based on someone’s political leanings. One-third of Republicans and three-quarters of Democrats think that climate change is real. That to me speaks to the political, ideological and cultural dimensions of this debate.