Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NSF Funds Good Work that Is Politically Relevant!?

Oh my.  Very clear, sharp op-ed piece in NYT today by Joe Krosnick who argues that his survey is better than those done by Pew and Gallup for ascertaining attitudes about global warming/climate change and proposed government regulation. 

Given last fall's controversy about NSF funding, I find it ironic that this project, funded by the NSF, demonstrates two things:
  • that social science research can do stuff better than the polling folks (something explicitly questioned way back when): 
"Questions in other polls that sought to tap respondents’ personal beliefs about the existence and causes of warming violated two of the cardinal rules of good survey question design: ask about only one thing at a time, and choose language that makes it easy for respondents to understand and answer each question."
  •  and that the findings are often going to be politically inconvenient.   Krosnick finds that Americans actually do think the globe is warming and they would like to see more regulation of the production of things that expend energy (cars, appliances, homes, office buildings).
What a great conclusion:
When senators vote on emissions limits on Thursday, there is one other number they might want to keep in mind: 72 percent of Americans think that most business leaders do not want the federal government to take steps to stop global warming. A vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived by the nation as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people.
Just shows how good work can antagonize the NSF-haters by being politically relevant.  Ooops.

And for a somewhat more critical take, see Drezner.

1 comment:

Steve Greene said...

Haven't gotten around to my own post on this yet. Krosnick is actually the smartest Political Scientist I've ever known (and he's actually a social-psychologist). That said, I like Drum's conclusion to this:
"So there you have it: the American public believes in global warming and wants the government to do something about it. However, the American public doesn't want to do anything — carbon taxes or cap-and-trade — that might actually work."