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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 PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:17PM (#42229645)

    How about just relying on the science to speak for itself?

    A figure of 75 percent unconvinced is encouraging in one sense. I means that the majority of the people aren't buying either argument yet. That's fine. We don't have anywhere near a clear understanding of how climate change is working (or not), who or what is responsible and what, if anything, we can do about it. The fact that the majority remains skeptical is a healthy sign.

    We can only hope that the group that actually does the science and gets it right will sway the majority. And that the group who is giving up on the science and switching over to propaganda and public opinion manipulation will be recognized as an admission of the failure to get the figures to go their way.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 08, 2012 @09:24PM (#42229701)

    If someone says they believe in AGW but refuse to support nuclear technology, the ONLY technology able to replace our base load generation requirements and not produce CO2, then it is more likely that they believe in AGW only as a vehicle to impose their already established political agenda of rationing and taxes.

    The irony is that if we did go full nuclear, it would go a long way towards satisfying the agendas of anti-AGW people (Cheap and abundant energy) and the AGW crowd.

    Then we'd never have to suffer any more wanksfests about Global Warming on Slashdot again. That right there should be worth a few rads of exposure.

  • Re:How come... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hsthompson69 ( 1674722 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:26PM (#42230065)

    hurricane != climate

    flood != climate

    drought != climate

    tornado != climate

    superultramegastorm sandy !=climate

    record high temperature at a given location != climate

    record low temperature at a given location != climate ...actually, I might actually call drought "climate" now that I think about it.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:4, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:26PM (#42230377)

    The Carbon Cliff, not the Fiscal Cliff, should be the focus of discussion.

    Like the Fiscal Cliff, the Carbon Cliff is the totally preventable economic crisis that we caused because we can't work together.

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by microbox ( 704317 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @12:55AM (#42230877)

    To them AGW is self-evident and the burden of proof should be on the other side to prove that it is not happening.

    Also known as the precautionary principle. Formalized in risk analysis. Studied thoroughly by actuaries. And for them, money and their jobs are on the line -- not to be on one side of the argument, but to be *correct*.

    And they spend their /lives/ doing it.

    But you know better right?

  • by microbox ( 704317 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @01:56AM (#42231195)
    I hear you, and I been through that phase. Now I honestly look at the mess of politics and laughter is the only way to take its stomach churning stupidity. I once read about a politician who was cool with the fundamental irrationality of the world, and he laughed a lot too. I guess that's an aspiration of mine.

    About 10 years ago I worked out that pretty much everything I knew was wrong. I just heard something I believed from someone else who heard something they believed etc. I thought it was a joke that people believe in the immaculate conception of the virgin Mary, but now I realise that some people really experience the world that way. That is when I stopped knowing and started listening, and really tried to understand different perspectives from their own point of view.

    There is stage beyond that, where you just realise stupidity is stupidity. There are many great politicians who really should be doing the job they do, and they are matched by equal numbers of lunatics and egomaniacs. If the crazy could be put in the bag, it would have been done a long time ago.

    Any tool you use to deal with a madman, the madman will then learn and use it as a tool to propagate their madness, quite unselfconsciously. That is why movement conservatives are going around talking about arithmetic after Clintons speech at the DNC. Any rhetoric that /could/ successfully be used against AGW denial could equally be used to promote any stupid idea. The truth of things is a little too complex for open debate, which is why there is so little of it -- even in academia -- and why Leo Strauss [] so favoured the noble lie.

    Perhaps one day I'll see the wisdom of not laughing behind someone's back, but people accept the level of reality they are willing to bear, and laughter can cut straight through that. It can drive the deluded into an even deeper delusion, but it may also be the only message a person can hear. If it sounds a little 6th gradish, then consider that an anger response is the greatest predictor (by far) that someone will share something with someone else. Politics really is the way it is for a reason.
  • Re:In other words... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @03:00AM (#42231493)

    ski lift operators etc can experience it over decades.

    If one looks at actual climate modeling, not only is the shift northward of the snow line predicted, it's actually the primary consequence of global warming over the next century (the largest temperature shifts are in that region and they have fairly large area, meaning a significant portion of global warming comes from those regions).

    You still have the modest issue of whether or not your 1988 radio program demonstrates a local or global phenomenon. But at least, you're now focusing on things that are likely to have significant correlation with global warming, unlike your extreme weather claims [].

    We're training a generation of fools and setting up our nations for decline.

    Maybe before you start complaining about a problem, you should try to stop being part of the problem?

  • Re:Only 8%? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) * on Sunday December 09, 2012 @04:44AM (#42231917) Journal

    I was there, and I was a Democrat. Carter was one of the most disastrous presidents the US has ever had. His economic ideas were directly responsible for a huge recession that cost my parents their house and forced me out of my home at 12 years old (28% mortgage rates on my parents' variable rate mortgage? Are you fucking kidding?).

    Reagan was a dangerous man. Reagan WAS fucking crazy. Fortunately for us, a Fucking Crazy president was just what we needed at that time to scare the SHIT out of anybody who might make trouble. We elected him and the world shut the fuck up for long enough for us to get our shit back together. The only guy stupid enough to try to be more crazy was Qaddafi, and that didn't end well for Qaddafi.

    Funny thing: Reagan probably didn't even know where he was the whole time, and he was STILL a better president than Carter. Toward the end the actor came out and he was acting as if he was President on a set when actually he WAS the president.

    /Fun times. Scared the shit out of me. I was in the US military at the time. Spent the whole time thinking the End was near. But it worked out and I didn't have to go to some far place and meet unpleasant people who wanted to kill me.

    //Love Carter's work since. But as a President he was a disaster.

  • Re:In other words... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by kqs ( 1038910 ) on Sunday December 09, 2012 @10:55AM (#42233437)

    So where does Joe get his information about the scientists from? Newspapers, magazines, the TV. Unfortunately Joe long ago learned that those sources are full of crap and will willingly attempt to mislead him, or maybe even lie to him, in order to push agendas that the journalists want to push. Joe has learned to be very skeptical of those news sources.

    This always amazes me. Why is Joe skeptical about these news sources? Because they refuse to publish stories which Joe knows is true, like Obama's "true religion" or proof that Susan Rice personally massacred our ambassador or whatever. So instead Joe believes "facts" from the people who are shrilly claiming that all media is lying (except them, of course).

    This is crazy. This is stupid. This is a far more serious threat to democracy than anything any US politician has done in the last 50 years.

    Our media is not perfect, but (aside from a few glaring examples) is pretty good. Most of its shortcomings are due to you and me, not some nefarious plot to rule the world. People give eyeballs to short shocking stories and not to long, complete, accurate stories. Media needs eyeballs to survive. The wheel turns.

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