They just didn’t like the person

To reflect some more on Dan Kahan’s Pakistani Dr. post, I think there is something to his closing:

In other words, at least some people weren’t really objecting to the “irrationality” of the Kentucky Farmer’s beliefs. They just didn’t like the person that his “beliefs” were rationally enabling him to be. They are entitled to feel that way!

But I do think it is useful to recognize that that’s what the objection is.

Or in any case, it occurred to me that this might be one way to make sense of how others were making sense of the Kentucky Farmer and the Pakistani Dr. I could be wrong about that.

Though I see what Kahan is getting at, I’m not sure I would make the strong claim that his audience didn’t like the farmer. I think it’s more a visceral, instinctive sense that creationism is somehow wrong and bad. Their opposition to creationism and creationists is partly aesthetic. Being exposed to Kahan’s research undermines this visceral response and they’re understandably uncomfortable. What Kahan observes as dislike might simply be their honest attempt to reconcile the conflict. Perhaps a good research question would be to study the cognitive dissonance of Kahan’s audience!

I also suspect their opposition is partly because they don’t want to sanction creationist beliefs and make them seem okay. Even if the stray doctor or farmer do just fine in the end, they still don’t want anyone thinking creationism okay.

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