Few Of Our Opinions are First-Hand
June 3, 2015 10:13 AM   Subscribe

Most public issues are too complex for us to parse on our own. We take others' word for it way more often than we realize, relying on trusted (via confirmation bias) experts re: issues like climate change or the affordable care act rather than actually reading through scientific studies or legislation to form our opinions (i.e. remarkably few of our opinions are actually first-hand). Within the past few years, a book or article was written about this phenomenon. Can you help me remember what/where?

An enormous amount of writing merely touches on this point (to a greater/lesser extent). I'd request we not clutter the thread with such instances.
posted by Quisp Lover to Society & Culture (3 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Why People Believe Weird Things


The Believing Brain

Thinking Fast and Slow


Sorry I'm just throwing a lot out there, I'm not sure WHICH book you're talking about, but this, and amazon's "You Might Also Like..." might get you on the right track.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 10:38 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You may be thinking of a book or article written by or about Dan Kahan of Yale Law School or one of his frequent collaborators. His faculty page links to articles and to his "cultural cognition project." Look particularly for Kahan's articles about expert opinions.

Note, however, that Kahan believes (and to my mind convincingly demonstrates) that people who have more information and devote greater attention to culturally-disputed issues, show on average higher levels of "cognitive illiberalism," to use his phrase.
posted by ferdydurke at 11:04 AM on June 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Good contrib from ferdydurke, but that's not the article or book I was looking for.

Interesting and useful book list from Major Matt, but I'm not looking for explorations of general wrong-thinkingness. Just this one very specific phenomenon.

I'm sorry people couldn't think of more, but perhaps this effect is so little-known (in spite of its macro effect) that it doesn't ring many bells.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2015

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