This week's guest blogger is Dan Kahan who, among other things, will blog about The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School. Dan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Deputy Dean at Yale Law School. In addition to risk perception, his areas of research include criminal law and evidence. Prior to coming to Yale in 1999, Professor Kahan was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. He also served as a law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court (1990-91) and to Judge Harry Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (1989-90). He received his B.A. from Middlebury College and his J.D. from Harvard University.
The Cultural Cognition Project is a group of scholars from Yale and other universities interested in studying how cultural values shape the public's risk perceptions and related policy beliefs. Cultural cognition refers to the tendency of individuals to conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact (e.g., whether global warming is a serious threat; whether the death penalty deters murder; whether gun control makes society more safe or less) to values that define their cultural identities. Project members are using the methods of various disciplines -- including social psychology, anthropology, communications, and political science -- to chart the impact of this phenomenon and to identify the mechanisms through which it operates. The Project also has an explicit normative objective: to identify processes of democratic decisionmaking by which society can resolve culturally grounded differences in belief in a manner that is both congenial to persons of diverse cultural outlooks and consistent with sound public policymaking.