Thursday, May 13, 2010

When fact isn't fact

I've been carrying on an altogether civil e-mail discussion with writer Nancy Jane Moore about how to engage in political debate with folks who refuse to see facts as fact. How does one compromise or come to any kind of resolution on a political issue, for example, if one side looks at the math and declares that 2 + 2 = 4, and the other side looks at 2 + 2 and declares that the answer is "blue!" (That is from a joke about a former Kansas governor, but I digress.)

Today Hunter of Justice blogged about a Yale University study that did a terrific, and somewhat frightening, job of highlighting the problem.
Among opponents of gay and lesbian adoption who base their opposition on the welfare of children, only 22% say they would change their mind if shown convincing empirical evidence that children raised by gay and lesbian couples are just as likely to be healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual couples.

That's painful. How can we resolve political debates if facts mean nothing to a large number of participants? The good news is that the Yale Cultural Cognition Project, which conducted the study, is working on finding solutiona to that problem. I look forward to seeing what they do.