There’s a gender divide on nuclear power, but it doesn’t mean what you think it means via Vox

Over at Morning Consult, they’ve done a survey on attitudes toward nuclear power, and according to reporter Davis Burroughs, nuclear reactors “face pronounced unpopularity among an unexpected bloc: women.”


So what are you saying?

In the name of heading off at least a few of the outraged emails I’m sure to receive about this, let me head off a few misunderstandings.

  • As Julie Nelson reminds us, the data tell us only about statistical patterns. They do not tell us anything about “men” and “women” as such; they do not support any conclusions about intrinsic or biological qualities of this or that demographic. And they certainly don’t tell us anything about particular individuals, each of whom is a precious snowflake. Plenty of non-males and non-whites support nuclear power; plenty of white males oppose it. Plenty of people take climate change seriously and support nuclear, or vice versa. Everyone has their own reasons for believing things and deserves to have those reasons taken at face value.
  • The patterns in the data likely reflect social and economic forces, not biology or destiny. Social and economic forces can be interrogated and changed.
  • I noted: the same demographic (“white hierarchical and individualistic males”) that dismisses the risks of nuclear power in disproportionate numbers also dismisses the risks of climate change in disproportionate numbers. Per above, this does not mean that all climate change deniers support nuclear power or that supporting nuclear power makes you any kind of denier. The case for or against nuclear power is distinct from the case for or against climate change concern, and, again, each deserves to be taken at face value.
  • Just as an anecdotal matter, I have noticed that supporters of nuclear power have trouble letting go of the knowledge-deficit model (just as climate scientists and wonks often do). They react to gaps like these by wondering how the unduly frightened masses can be made more rational, i.e., can be made to see things how they see things. But white males ought to contemplate why almost all other groups are more sensitive to local risks than they are. Perhaps it’s not as simple as everyone else being wrong.

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