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Earth Science

Strong Climate Change Opinions Are Self-Reinforcing 655

An anonymous reader writes "A study recently published in Nature (abstract) looked at how personal beliefs altered a person's perception of climate change. Surveying a sample of people in 2008 and then the same people again in 2011, the study looked for 'motivated reasoning,' where 'high belief certainty influenced perceptions of personal experience,' and 'experiential learning,' where 'perceived personal experience of global warming led to increased belief certainty.' According to the article, 'When you categorize individuals by engagement — essentially how confident and knowledgeable they feel about the facts of the issue — differences are revealed. For the highly-engaged groups (on both sides), opinions about whether climate is warming appeared to drive reports of personal experience. That is, motivated reasoning was prevalent. On the other hand, experience really did change opinions for the less-engaged group, and motivated reasoning took a back seat.None of that is truly surprising, but it leads to a couple interesting points. First, the concrete here-and-now communication strategy is probably a good one for those whose opinions aren't firmly set — fully 75 percent of Americans, according to the polling. But second, that tack is unlikely to get anywhere with the 8 percent or so of highly-engaged Americans who reject the idea of a warming planet, and are highly motivated to disregard anything that says otherwise.'"
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Strong Climate Change Opinions Are Self-Reinforcing

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  • by Press2ToContinue ( 2424598 ) * on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:13PM (#42229621)

    Cognitive bias is nothing new; it is not specific to climate change.

    "A cognitive bias is a pattern of deviation in judgment that occurs in particular situations, which may sometimes lead to perceptual distortion, inaccurate judgment, illogical interpretation, or what is broadly called irrationality." []

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:30PM (#42229735)

    ....when it's extremely cold in the winter, scientists say thats just normal weather, but when it's extremely hot in the summer, it's global warming?

    Maybe you could make us a list of scientists who are saying that.

    We know about global warming, not from observing warm days, but from longitudinal measurements from all over the world.

    And of course, we understand the mechanism. The "greenhouse" property of certain gasses that we have been spewing into the atmosphere in ever-increasing amounts since the beginning of the industrial age has been known IIRC for about 200 years.

    Also, global warming doesn't imply warm winters in any particular location. It means more thermal energy in our atmosphere and oceans, which can destabilize that very complex dynamical system that we call "weather".

    For an example of a mechanism whereby global warming can make winter colder in specific locations, see "The Winters of Our Discontent" in the December 2012 Scientific American.

    But then, I'm guessing that you're not particularly interested in learning how scientists figure out what's going on, or you wouldn't be posting such nonsense. A "first post!" would have made you look less foolish.

  • Re:They don't (Score:5, Informative)

    by spottedkangaroo ( 451692 ) * on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:40PM (#42229807) Homepage
    Hey, this is logical fallacy is called "begging the question." The term you can't use anymore because everyone will think you mean "raising the question."
  • Social Proof (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:33PM (#42230097)

    They come out with a bogus study that says 97% of scientists all agree. That's not proof, it's social proof.

  • Re:How come... (Score:5, Informative)

    by QRDeNameland ( 873957 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:39PM (#42230113)

    He doesn't have to, because of the magical use of the meaningless term "Scientific consensus" by virtually all of the scientists and journalists writing about the field. What we're told, over and over, is that virtually all credible scientists are speaking with one voice.

    The idea that science is somehow subject to a vote is even scarier than the idea that it should be subservient to religion.

    As someone who thinks the "scientific consensus" on AGW is much more likely correct than not, I have to say I agree with this. History is littered with examples of scientific consensus that was later proven wrong, and indeed that is the very definition of scientific progress.

    The key thing to consider when evaluating an unsettled scientific issue is to note whether the evidence for a particular hypothesis gets stronger or weaker as more and better research is done. By my admittedly layman's interpretation of what read, the evidence for AGW has only been getting stronger over time, and the evidence presented against it seems increasingly narrow. But even though I agree with the "scientific consensus", I hate hearing and reading it as the cliched soundbite and doubt it's convincing any of that 75% of people who are unsure (however they defined unsure).

  • by fredprado ( 2569351 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:45AM (#42230827)
    To be fair I found the link on Forbes and the Heartland Institute, and replicas from scientists in the NYT: []
  • Re:How come... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:02AM (#42230909)
    Correspondence bias. Look it up.
  • Re:How come... (Score:3, Informative)

    by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:36AM (#42231655)

    decade on decade cooling *is* climate

    decade on decade staying the same *is* climate

    there is no statistical trend in extreme weather events that correlates to human CO2 emissions, or heck, even to global CO2 levels in general. In fact, cyclonic activity has *dropped* (which, if you read some AGW papers, is expected because the temperature gradient between the poles and equator is reduced...of course others expect more cyclonic activity, so no matter what happens, someone can pull a paper out and say "see, global warming!").

    As for record breaking, check this out: []

Things are not as simple as they seems at first. - Edward Thorp