How Warmists are trying to make you Believe.


I was pretty astonished by an article discussing a series of studies about how to make people more likely to believe in global warming.  It seems that they are upset that there are still skeptics and they are trying to correct that problem.  The solution is fairly simple.  Ask people questions while putting them into an environment that has an elevated temperature.  As the article states
“What’s one way to convert climate change skeptics? By making them sweat.”

Since the science doesn’t convince most skeptics, they are looking for other ways to help the poor and misinformed masses understand that global warming is real.  The article discusses a study from Berkeley that shows increasing the ambient temperature makes people more likely to believe that global warming is real.  The full article is shown below.  Since I believe in actually understanding the issue I won’t suggest the reverse by saying that polls on global warming should be conducted in a freezer, but clearly the people at Berkeley believe that global warming should only be discussed with skeptics in a sauna.

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How do you get people to understand that climate change is occurring? The question frustrates scientists and policymakers, who face a disbelieving public prone to discounting discomforting data.

A newly published study suggests one answer is to set aside the charts and statistics in favor of a more visceral approach. To put it simply: If you want to convert a skeptic, turn up the thermostat.

The Inconvenient Skeptic

For climate change skeptics, apparently, feeling is believing. New research suggests to convert someone dubious of climate change statistics, you need to turn up the heat — literally. (GChutka / istockphoto.com)

Jane Risen of the University of Chicago and Clayton Critcher of the University of California, Berkeley, provide evidence that belief in global warming increases along with the temperature one is currently experiencing. The researchers attribute this to a phenomenon they call “visceral fit.”

“We suggest that while experiencing a visceral state, people will judge future states of the world that fit with that experience to be more likely,” they write in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. As they see it, uncomfortable feelings of warmth stimulate “fluent mental representations” of heat, which give “an inference of validity” to arguments the planet is warming.

Risen and Critcher describe seven studies that support and refine this thesis. In the first, 67 American university students “were taken outside under the pretense of judging the height of several campus landmarks,” they write. The exercise occurred on several days in September and October, when the temperature ranged from 49 to 89 degrees.

The students filled out questionnaires in which they voiced their views on several political topics, including their degree of skepticism regarding climate change. They also reported their ideological leanings.

“We found that ambient temperature significantly predicted the belief in the validity of global warming, with participants reporting greater belief on warmer days,” Risen and Critcher report. “In fact, the effect of temperature was as strong as ideology, and was not qualified by it. Thus, outside temperature influenced liberals and conservatives similarly.”

But was this really a visceral response or an intellectual exercise in which some students (admittedly not exercising sophisticated analytical skills) felt warm and jumped to the conclusion the planet is heating up? To find out, the researchers essentially repeated the experiment, but indoors.

In the second study, 84 students completed the same survey while sitting in a small heated cubicle. For half of them, the cubicle was heated with a space heater for 15 minutes before their arrival, raising the air temperature from a comfortable 73 degrees to a toasty 81 degrees.

Those eight degrees made a difference: “Participants who responded in the heated cubicle believed global warming was more of a fact than those who responded in the control cubicle,” the researchers report. Even in an indoor environment, where the temperature was controlled by humans, “people believed more in global warming when they were made hot than when they were not.”

“As people tried to imagine the hot world implied by global warming, these mental images were simulated more fluently for those who were currently warm, which led to the inference that this hot world was more likely,” the researchers conclude. As William James understood a century ago, bodily sensations, emotions and thoughts are inextricably linked.

While the researchers don’t mention it, their work appears to reveal a tragic irony. Thanks to our use of greenhouse gas-emitting energy supplies, we now spend our summers in air-conditioned buildings and cars, which makes it harder for us to comprehend, on a visceral level, the reality of a warming world. Without such a sense, dire scenarios seem implausible and easy to dismiss.

Breaking this circle will not be easy, but this research provides scientists and educators valuable clues as to how it might be done.

“What makes future events feel more real is not necessarily well-conducted research or impressive meta-analyses that speak to the event’s likelihood of occurrence,” Risen and Critcher write, “but factors that facilitate the ability to picture what the future event would look and feel like.” They add that facilitating that sort of imaginative leap may be the key to “belief formation and acceptance.”

So if you find yourself arguing about climate change with tea partiers, you might want to meet them on their own terms and offer them some tea.

Serve it piping hot.

Posted in Bad Science and Fear and Misinformation by inconvenientskeptic on January 28th, 2011 at 4:20 am.

2 comments

This post has 2 comments

  1. I think this is a great approach. It shows that the greenies are losing, they are aware thay are losing and they are trying any new trick they can. These people must get their heads out of the sand; climate change is dead. Wahoo!

  2. Alan D McIntire Jan 30th 2011

    This is what’s ahead for the true believers. There are five stages to it. The above proposal is at stage 3

    1) Denial – A total refusal to see, believe or accept what has happened.

    2) Anger – Blaming someone else, oneself, everyone else or anything else for what has happened. The deeper the belief, the more vehement this stage is.

    3) Bargaining – Believing that you can still do some trading to keep all, something or at least a shred of the collapsing structure. eg concessions, scapegoats, prayer.

    4) Depression – It can’t be stopped. Apathy, depression, tiredness, feeling unfairly punished.

    5) Acceptance – Utter Calm. It’s all over. Death.

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