Alison Snyder / Axios

A call for greater scientific literacy in the public and policy making echoed through Saturday's March for Science in Washington and satellite events around the world. Knowledge, reasoning goes, should lead us to a common solution. But people's attitudes toward some scientific issues are determined more by who they identify with rather than what they know, Yale law professor Dan Kahan said at a recent event at the university.

Our thought bubble: A march won't likely change peoples' positions on scientific issues that have become entangled with identity and politics (and it runs the risk of further polarizing people). The public divide over climate change and evolution isn't going to be solved by education, Kahan said. "Scientists shouldn't labor under the burden of thinking it is all their fault or they are going to save us." When communicating science, he suggested, "find some basis for using what science knows that is completely independent from denying your group identity."

Key takeaways:

  1. People who deny science are expected to not know much about it. But in a study by Kahan, those who were most polarized on the issue of climate change scored the highest on assessments of scientific literacy. They were using reasoning and evidence not to find out what's true but to cultivate their identity in a group, he said.
  2. The most polarized people are also the most curious and seek out information that challenges their political views, a finding Kahan describes as "heartwarming."
  3. Science isn't completely under siege. 40% of Americans say they have "great confidence" in the scientific community, a figure that has held steady for forty years making science one of the most and consistently trusted institutions in the U.S. While there are a minority of subjects that are very polarizing, Kahan said on most scientific issues people aren't actually divided. Left or right, people also perceived science as a useful endeavor:

Go deeper

Election clues county by county

Ipsos and the University of Virginia's Center for Politics are out with an interactive U.S. map that goes down to the county level to track changes in public sentiment that could decide the presidential election.

How it works: The 2020 Political Atlas tracks President Trump's approval ratings, interest around the coronavirus, what's dominating social media and other measures, with polling updated daily — enhancing UVA's "Crystal Ball."

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 31,605,656 — Total deaths: 970,934 Total recoveries: 21,747,491Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,897,432 — Total deaths: 200,814 — Total recoveries: 2,646,959 — Total tests: 96,612,436Map.
  3. Health: The U.S. reaches 200,000 coronavirus deaths — The CDC's crumbling reputation — America turns against coronavirus vaccine.
  4. Politics: Elected officials are failing us on much-needed stimulus.
  5. Business: Two-thirds of business leaders think pandemic will lead to permanent changes — Fed chair warns economy will feel the weight of expired stimulus.
  6. Sports: NFL fines maskless coaches.

Trump pushes to expand ban against anti-racism training to federal contractors

Trump speaking at Moon Township, Penns., on Sept. 22. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump announced late Tuesday that the White House attempt to halt federal agencies' anti-racism training would be expanded to block federal contractors from "promoting radical ideologies that divide Americans by race or sex."

Why it matters: The executive order appears to give the government the ability to cancel contracts if anti-racist or diversity trainings focused on sexual identity or gender are organized. The memo applies to executive departments and agencies, the U.S. military, federal contractors and federal grant recipients.

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