Scientists are testing a ‘vaccine’ against ‘climate denial’
By Michelle Nijhuis
Two recent, preliminary studies suggest there’s hope for the facts about climate change. Borrowing from the medical lexicon, these studies show that it may be possible to metaphorically “inoculate” people against misinformation about climate change, and by doing so give the facts a boost. What’s more, these researchers suggest, strategic inoculation could create a level of “herd immunity” and undercut the overall effects of fake news.
In the journal PLOS One, Cook and his colleagues reported that when about 100 study participants were presented with the misinformation alone, their views did further polarize along political lines. But when another group of participants were first warned about a general strategy used in misinformation campaigns — in this case, they were told that fake experts had often been used by the tobacco industry to question the scientific consensus about the effects of tobacco on health, and were shown an ad with the text “20,679 physicians say ‘Luckies are less irritating’” — the polarizing effect of the misinformation was completely neutralized.
“Nobody likes to be misled, no matter their politics”
Psychologists have known for decades that people are more resistant to misinformation if they’re warned about it beforehand. Teens who are warned about the dangers of smoking are less likely to succumb to their friends’ arguments in favor of it; people who are warned about pro-sugar campaigns by soda companies are less likely to fall for them. These “inoculation messages” can even work retroactively, changing the minds of those who have already been influenced by misinformation.
Inoculating Republican leaders and Republican voters against the climate misinformation in their own party platform would surely take time, especially since so many are constantly exposed to new misinformation. But Cook is encouraged, both by his results and by his personal experience: When the right message is combined with the right messenger — one who shares the values of his or her audience — the facts have a fighting chance.
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Climate Depot Note: This is not the first time climate skepticism faced inventive ways to persuade or else.
In 2009, New York Times Paul Krugman accused Congressmen who voted against climate cap-and-trade bill of ‘treason against the planet!’
‘Execute’ Skeptics! Krugman’s sentiment joined by fellow climate fear promoters
In June 2009, a public appeal was issued on an influential U.S. website asking: “At what point do we jail or execute global warming deniers.” The appeal appeared on Talking Points Memo, an often cited website that helps set the agenda for the political Left in the U.S.
The Talking Points Memo article continues: “So when the right wing fucktards have caused it to be too late to fix the problem, and we start seeing the devastating consequences and we start seeing end of the World type events – how will we punish those responsible. It will be too late. So shouldn’t we start punishing them now?” (For full story see: ‘Execute’ Skeptics! Shock Call To Action: ‘At what point do we jail or execute global warming deniers’ — ‘Shouldn’t we start punishing them now?’ – June 3, 2009)
After all the attention drawn to it by Climate Depot, the Talking Points Memo article was later pulled and the website published a retraction and apology, but the sentiment was stark and unequivocal and has significant company among climate fear promoters.
On June 5, 2009, Joe Romm of Climate Progress defended a posting on his website warning that climate skeptics would be strangled in bed for rejecting the view that we face a man-made climate crisis. “An entire generation will soon be ready to strangle you and your kind while you sleep in your beds,” warned the message posted on Climate Progress.
Romm, a former Clinton Administration official, pulled the comments after Climate Depot drew attention to them. “The original was clearly not a threat but a prediction — albeit one that I certainly do not agree with. Since some people misread it, I am editing it,” Romm wrote.
Small sampling of threats, intimidation and censorship:
NASA’s James Hansen has called for trials of climate skeptics in 2008 for “high crimes against humanity.” In 2006, the eco-magazine Grist called for Nuremberg-Style trials for skeptics. In 2008, Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki called for government leaders skeptical of global warming to be thrown “into jail.” In 2007, The Weather Channel’s climate expert called for withholding certification of skeptical meteorologists.
A 2008 report found that ‘climate blasphemy’ is replacing traditional religious blasphemy. In addition, a July 2007 Senate report detailed how skeptical scientists have faced threats and intimidation.
In 2007, then EPA Chief Vowed to Probe E-mail Threatening to ‘Destroy’ Career of Climate Skeptic and dissenters of warming fears have been called ‘Climate Criminals’ who are committing ‘Terracide’ (killing of Planet Earth) (July 25, 2007) In addition, in May 2009, Climate Depot Was Banned in Louisiana! See: State official sought to ‘shut down’ climate skeptic’s testimony at hearing.
November 12, 2007: UN official warns ignoring warming would be ‘criminally irresponsible’ Excerpt: The U.N.’s top climate official warned policymakers and scientists trying to hammer out a landmark report on climate change that ignoring the urgency of global warming would be “criminally irresponsible.” Yvo de Boer’s comments came at the opening of a weeklong conference that will complete a concise guide on the state of global warming and what can be done to stop the Earth from overheating.
U.N. official says it’s ‘completely immoral’ to doubt global warming fears (May 10, 2007) Excerpt: UN special climate envoy Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland declared “it’s completely immoral, even, to question” the UN’s scientific “consensus.”
Weather Channel Climate Expert Calls for Decertifying Global Warming Skeptics (January 17, 2007) Excerpt: The Weather Channel’s most prominent climatologist is advocating that broadcast meteorologists be stripped of their scientific certification if they express skepticism about predictions of manmade catastrophic global warming. This latest call to silence skeptics follows a year (2006) in which skeptics were compared to “Holocaust Deniers” and Nuremberg-style war crimes trials were advocated by several climate alarmists.