How did he get so smart? Nate Silver eat your heart out. Ezra has a splendid article and interview with Yale Law professor Dan Kahan out on VOX that deals with partisan thinking from a very different point of view.
But Kahan and his team had an alternative hypothesis. Perhaps people aren’t held back by a lack of knowledge. After all, they don’t typically doubt the findings of oceanographers or the existence of other galaxies. Perhaps there are some kinds of debates where people don’t want to find the right answer so much as they want to win the argument. Perhaps humans reason for purposes other than finding the truth — purposes like increasing their standing in their community, or ensuring they don’t piss off the leaders of their tribe.
Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: "As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values."
Kahan’s research tells us we can’t trust our own reason. How do we reason our way out of that?
Updated 4/8/2014 4:22p.
Paul Krugman has his take on Ezras Vox venture, and he don't say too much hateful about it.