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Seminar: 10/7 - Michael Ranney, University of California, Berkeley

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman Hall

"Rick Perry, methane, & an early hominid enter a saloon...": Climate Change, Evolution, (Anti-)Knowledge, Math, and Geopolitics

Americans are reluctant to accept evolution and (e.g., anthropogenic) global climate change, compared to peer nations' residents. (Several prominent politicians also demonstrate this joint reluctance.) Reinforced Theistic Manifest Destiny theory (RTMD; e.g., Ranney, in press) explains such U.S.-exceptionalism by combining geopolitical history with six constructs: afterlife, deity, nationalism, creation, evolution, and global warming. In a series of studies, we have been exploring these constructs' inter-relationships. Further, we have been assessing the impact of a 400-word description of global warming's mechanism on participants' knowledge and attitudes. Prior to instruction, participants rarely understood the mechanism -- or how greenhouse gases differ from other gases. After the mechanistic description, though, between- and within-group contrasts showed both (a) often-dramatic knowledge increases regarding key concepts and (b) increased climate change acceptance. Instruction-induced changes among RTMD relationships, and the role of surprise, will also be discussed. Co-authors of this talk are David Clark, Daniel Reinholz, Sarah Cohen, and Jeff Wilson.