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Professor James Evans - DSI talk

Monday, March 7, 2016 - 1:10pm to 2:30pm
C102, MBA Class of 1968 Building

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Talk title:  Can We Agree on Science? Measuring Ideological Alignment through Book Co-purchase Data and other Tales of Collective Attention and Reasoning

Abstract:  The association of documents, arguments, claims and concepts, now increasingly available in digital form, give us a rich trace of how institutions and society as a whole select, attend to and process information—how these collectives think. In this talk, I will first consider exploring the degree to which society can agree on science and come to evidence-driven resolutions, through millions of online book co-purchases. Attacks on science in the media and the liberal credentials of most scientists could suggest that science neither constitutes a “separate” nor a “public sphere” for reasoned debate in the United States, but recent surveys find the public does not regard science as liberal and overwhelmingly acknowledges scientific contributions to society.

We used and recommendations based on co-purchases between political and scientific books as a behavioral indicator for whether science bridges or deepens political divides. Findings reveal a deep politicization and polarization of science, such that interest in science is not separated from political concerns, but rather highly polarized, revealing not only divided tastes (e.g., conservatives have a penchant for the practical), but distinct intensities of connection to science, with liberal books linking to more scientific books closer to the center of each disciplinary book network. The political left and right share an interest in science in general, but not science in particular. I will also travel inside research articles to consider how the concepts and claims embedded within millions of research articles reveal how biomedical science moves from problems posed and questions answered in one year to those considered in the next, and propose institutional alternatives that maximize a range of valuable objectives, from scientific discovery to medical advance. 

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Graduate School of BusinessIRiSS
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