2011-07-05 10:47:37“A Little Knowledge”: Why The Biggest Problem With Climate “Skeptics” May Be Their Confidence -- DeSmog Blog
John Hartz
John Hartz
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“A Little Knowledge”: Why The Biggest Problem With Climate “Skeptics” May Be Their Confidence 

Yet another excellent article by Chris Mooney.

2011-07-05 13:54:54
nealjking

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Actually, I think this is a terrible article.

He's trying to sell the story that "smart conservatives are more against the AGW concept than dumb conservatives", because "they know a little more."

This is a really really hard story to sell, and the comments show that the readers aren't buying it.

If it were me, I would have waited until I'd dreamed up a better angle. This is an article that should not have been published.

2011-07-05 15:47:53
Rob Painting
Rob
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Yeah, crap article. What the hell was he (Mooney) thinking?

2011-07-05 20:19:30
Paul D

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Haven't read the whole article yet, but...

I think the problem isn't just climate science. Individuals have different capacities to absorb information.
With science often the deeper you go into a subject the more you realise that there are no precise measurements or precise predictions. I think if you are 'trained' via the university system in science, it makes sense, but if you are educated in a different subject plus have different outlooks regarding life then if you went 'deep' into science you would see the statistical maze of measurements as a flaw and that would re-enforce your prejudice and doubt.

2011-07-05 20:59:15This is a crucial lesson for climate communicators
John Cook

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Regardless of how Mooney should've "sold" the story, there is a very important lesson here that is crucial for climate communicators (aka us) to understand. Amongst conservatives, the more knowledgeable they are about climate, the MORE likely they are to be skeptical. There is a common assumption among science communicators that more knowledge and info will lead to more acceptance of AGW. This research casts doubt on that assumption. Values systems are a vital piece of the puzzle.

How does this affect SkS? Our goal is education, promoting more knowledge. It's rebutting misinformation with information. But research indicates more information doesn't work with many conservatives. Even worse, more information may drive conservatives to greater skepticism.

Just to make things even more complicated, other research indicates debunking misinformation can reinforce it in people's minds. This is called the backfire effect and has nothing to do with politics or values - it's just a basic psychological reaction. I'll be discussing this research on the Communicating Science forum as soon as I'm done with the "Make it Stick" book.

These are all things we need to be aware of as we go forward and think of our goals and methods.

2011-07-05 21:01:45
Riccardo

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Oh well, and what about the microscopic world, where we give wave functions instead of positions?

I don't buy that anything can be fully explained to the barmaid, beyond a certain level you have to trust the experts and even be suspicious of the easy explanations. I think that educated deniers are winning the communication game in the media because they claim the contrary. They provide simple, albeit wrong, explanations and claim that they have more value than the consesus complicated theories.

Think about the saturated absorption claim, all the energy is absorbed in the first few tens of meters so nothing more can be trapped. It's simple and pretty obvious to anyone. The truth involve the tails of the absorption coefficient, temperature and pressure broadening and the thermal structure of the atmosphere. Guess who win the game of explaining to the bairmaid.

2011-07-05 21:14:40
nealjking

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Riccardo,

The point of Rutherford's assertion about explaining to a barmaid is that if you can't step back and find a simple way of getting at the essential point, you're getting caught up in details.

With respect to the saturated-absorption claim: I would point out that this conceptualization depends on thinking of photons as bullets, that stop when they hit a tree or shrub, and never start again. But IR photons are more like bees, that go from flower to flower.

2011-07-05 21:45:08
Paul D

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Actually last night on BBC2 TV channel it was the final episode of 'James Mays Things You Need To Know' which was about Weather.
It presented the subject in a fun (think updated Monty Python style animation) way, although climate change only got mentioned in the last 2 minutes of the programme. It presented some core information very well, although I wonder if even this was lost to many who were watching.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b012793q

James May is one of the presenters on Top Gear, that well known programme dedicated to petrol heads. Having said that James has presented some good programmes other than Top Gear.

The thought I had at the end is why didn't they do one on climate change??

Actually, climate change has pretty much disapeared from the TV screen in the UK other than news items.

2011-07-05 21:52:55
Rob Painting
Rob
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118.92.123.225

I'm more inclined to agree with Nealstradamus, the basics haven't been communicated well enough. Rebutting scientific gobbledegook with more scientific gobbledegook isn't going to convince anyone. It's a trap that many of the blog commenters fall into when confronting the "skeptics".

Riccardo, winning in the media for "skeptics" is easy, all they have to do is create doubt. And they have the easy sell- doing diddlysquat. We, on the other hand, have to convince the public that massive change is necessary. I reckon even without the evil corporate bastards, and the disinformation campaign, it would have been a signifcant battle anyway. 

2011-07-05 23:06:57
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.50.14

Rob,

Yes, there is an asymmetry in the difficulty of the job: It is always easier to discredit a logical argument than to build one. To discredit it, all you have to do is to create doubt about ONE factor; but to build it, you have to create confidence about ALL factors.

2011-07-05 23:41:43Correction
John Hartz
John Hartz
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98.122.98.161

Yet another excellent provocative article by Chris Mooney.