Kahan calls this theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way
of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups,
individuals subconsciously resist factual information that
threatens their defining values.” Elsewhere, he puts it even more
pithily: “What we believe about the facts,” he writes, “tells us
who we are.” And the most important psychological imperative most
of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are,
and our relationships with the people we trust and love.
Kahan’s research tells us we can’t trust our own reason. How
do we reason our way out of that?