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« Science of Science Communication 2.0, Session 7.1: communicating climate science part 2 | Main | Weekend update: Hard questions, incomplete answers, on the "disentanglement principle" »

Some other places to to find discussion

Couple of posts elsewhere worth checkiout out today.

1st is Tamar Wilner's great "response paper" for Science of Science Communication course session 6. She asks whether the evidence for "97% consensus messaging" bears critical scrutingy

2d is a post by me on Washington Post Monkey Cage discussing our recently published paper on geoengineering and "two-channel science communication."

One thing that bums me a bit about the post is that they edited out material at end explaining that the experiment was a model, not a proposed "communication framing strategy," and that the value of such a study is in guiding field studies.

Also not thrilled with headline--I don't study science communication to teach people how to "change skeptics' minds"; I do studies to show how to communicate science in a manner that enables people to decide for themselves what to make of it.

Oh well...




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Reader Comments (10)

"You can change the minds of climate change skeptics. Here’s how."

Heh! Heh!

I'd guess you could get climate sceptics to agree to CO2 emissions cuts, too, if you promised to do it by building thousands of nuclear reactors. (Which I'm sure is what governments would do if global warming was actually considered a threat.)

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Dan -

==> "Nevertheless, our study suggests that it would be foolish — not to mention awkward — for those who care about climate change to deny that geoengineering research is exactly what scientific consensus recommends."

Maybe it's just me, but I don't follow. Could you explain? How is it that scientific consensus recommends geoengineering research?

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua


I'll go w/ NAS, Royal Society & IPCC on this one

February 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan


We did the nuclear reactor study yrs ago.

But actually, the primary outcome variable in the study is one that assesses quality of reasoning -- how dismissive as opposed to engaged people were w/ climate evidence. It wasn't about "changing minds" on climate change -- I didn't write the headline.

Was the case, though, that "geoengineering" group was more concerned & not less about climate change risks

February 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

I think it's strange for Tamar Wilner to overlook the East Anglia email leak which happened right in the heart of the timeframe considered. That was some seriously bad PR, and if memory serves the drop in survey support for the consensus happened right afterwards.

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

Dan -

OK. So you meant that there is a scientific consensus that is in favor of geoengineering research. In other words *the existing* consensus makes that recommendation.

I thought that you were saying that in a generic sense, consensus recommends geoengineering research.

Anyway - I'm surprised that in that article, you seem to be focusing the conclusion from the study towards whether to research geoengineering or not - rather than the underlying lessons to be gained about how to make science communication less polarizing.

February 23, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I agree that that is surprising, since they edited out w/o notice my point that the experiment was a model of communication dynamics & not a meaningful test if whether it makes sense to go around talking about geoengineering. In fact I wrote that that would be a silly thing to do.

I did write the sentence you qute, b/c I think the predictable anti-geo response from certain advocates just reinforces perception that they are using climate change as bludgeon to push for anti-mkt policies. That's the point I made a few days ago in blog. For those paying attention, the Clive Hamilton reflex "that's what Republicans want--so oppose it" just deepens resolve to dismiss everything that climat-policy advocates say.

February 23, 2015 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

My reading of brain science, not so called cognitive models, is that behavior is entirely independent of words. beliefs, subjective experiences and anything expressed in everyday language.

Certainly, human subjective experience-consciousness-everyday language is filled mainly with nonsensical, magical statements - thus, meaningless in terms of behavior. However, the real question of what does language mean in terms of behavior hasn't been scientifically studied.

The no free will and other research suggest very little.

February 24, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBrain Molecule Marketing

Hi Ryan - sorry, owed you a response on my site. Will post here too.

I think when Kahan says, “The most straightforward explanation would be that the NCC [Lewandowsky] experiment was not externally valid—i.e., it did not realistically model the real-world dynamics of opinion-formation relevant to the climate change dispute,” he’s actually encompassing your suggestion (and Joshua’s).

I should have spelled this out more, but those “real-world dynamics” would indeed include anti-consensus messaging. Kahan goes on to say:

“There are, to be sure, many more things going on in the world, including countermessaging, than are going on in a “97% consensus” messaging experiment. But if those additional things account for the difference in the results, then that is exactly why that form experiment must be regarded as externally invalid: it is omitting real-world dynamics that we have reason to believe, based on real-world evidence, actually matter in the real world.”

I think that’s a persuasive argument. But I wanted to propose an additional thesis – that Lewandowsky did realistically model the changes in opinion that might happen with a concerted and well designed consensus-publicity effort – but that the effort we saw from 2003 to 2013 was not well-designed, was not pervasive enough, or both.

I think Kahan’s thesis is correct – there were additional things going on in the world that Lewandowsky didn’t model – like, for example, the East Anglia emails. But I wanted to at least explore an alternative.

I do still wonder what additional mileage we can get out of asking:
What did communication of the climate change consensus from 2003 to 2013 consist of? and
Did it meet certain criteria that we should require of such a campaign?

February 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTamar Wilner

Some basic questions are being ignored. What are the problems to be solved and thus what are the dependent variables? What is to be measured? Over what period of time and by whom?

In problem solving of any kinds the goal is to change or prevent harmful behaviors, by definition.

The evidence-basis for presuming self-reports using everyday language influence behaviors is slim. In fact, the experimental evidence is that behavior is wholly independent of subjective experience, let alone language and cultural beliefs in "belief" and "opinions" mattering. Opinions and self-report appear epiphenomenal to behavior.

In brain and behavioral science there is growing evidence debunking "higher order concepts" from human exceptionalism and anthropomorphizing inter-species medical and biological facts.

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