Wanted: A Meta-Poll

Evolutionsurvey It is interesting to see how opinion is distributed on controversial topics.  For example, this chart shows which nations accept natural selection more.  Pollers offer us many ways to slice opinion data, such as by age, gender, education, and so on.  But only rarely do we see polls that ask, as Klein and Dompe recently did:

  • What caused you to have these opinions? 

And I’ve never seen a poll that showed people the distribution of opinion, and then asked

  • How much does this distribution info change your mind?
  • What do you think caused the opinion of those on the other side?
  • What do you think they guess to be the causes of your opinion?

Yet these are the crucial questions for evaluating the rationality of such disagreements.

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  • http://www.odograph.com odograph

    “How much does this distribution info change your mind?”

    I am genetically Danish/Icelandic/British … oh no, is my confidence in natural selection now suspect?

  • TGGP

    Speaking of genetics, countries and beliefs/attitudes, a commenter at Gene Expression pointed out this very interesting paper from Gregory Clark of UC Davis claiming that the population of England through a Malthusian process evolved to be “genetically capitalist”, and thus allowing it to escape the Malthusian trap.

  • Chris Yi

    I would love to see a study/experiment done on something of this nature, although I’d first like to see it done in a less controversial setting (ha ha, but how do we decide what is controversial?), one in which people would be more conducive to changing their minds, and then running a stochastic model over some time to see how people’s opinions change. I’d expect to see some sort of normalization and centralization process where everyone does what everyone else was doing. I’d also want to mask the names of the various groups involved (“Oh, well, Country X thinks like that? Well, I disagree with them on principle then!”) I only claim that this topic is one where people are not very likely to change their minds because it is so divisive, which I think has a high correlation with immutability of individual opinion.

    I’ve been wondering lately how a mechanism like this would affect the ID vs. Darwinism “debate”; what if those who claim that there is a debate saw that nobody else seems to think so? It seems to me that there are various ways for individuals to push single memes out into public opinion, but it is very difficult to publish counter memes that can undo what the first one did.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/robinhanson/ Robin Hanson

    Chris, are you perhaps volunteering? 🙂