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Saturday, November 22, 2014

How We Talk, or Don't, About Climate Change

"If we only knew more about climate change, would we start getting serious about fixes? Researchers have found that more information about climate change doesn't necessarily form people's opinions. "There are lots of different dynamics that operate in how people form their perceptions of risk," says the Cultural Cognition Project: scholars looking at the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and related facts.

"Climate change has a certain kind of meaning in our culture. It's a kind of badge of membership and loyalty to a group." Now if you make a mistake in expressing that, you actually could suffer a lot of adverse consequences in your own community. He cites the case of South Carolina's former U.S. House Representative, Republican Bob Inglis, once considered one of the country's most conservative politicians. He was booted out of office in 2010 after he said the GOP should follow scientists near-consensus on climate change.

So how does (Yale Professor) Kahan himself avoid these thought traps? He advises talking to a trusted person you know who holds the opposite position on climate change or other divisive issues, like using vaccines. "We have to accept as known by science far more than we could understand," Kahan says."