Thursday, 20 May 2010

Living in denial: Why sensible people reject the truth

A lengthy but rewarding article from The New Scientist about the emotional basis for denialism. Why do people deny climagte change? According to the author, "denial is largely a product of the way normal people think. Most denialists are simply ordinary people doing what they believe is right. If this seems discouraging, take heart. There are good reasons for thinking that denialism can be tackled by condemning it a little less and understanding it a little more." She also has some pointers for people presenting on the topic, like use anecdotes! Scientists have traditionally rejected such techniques, relying instead on statistics and accumulation of detail. However, as we have seen, one desn't persuade people with logic alone.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Conservatives won't be nudged into cutting home energy

This story originally had the headline "Republicans won't be nudged into cutting home energy", but I rebadged it for an Australian context. Excertp from the abstract:
"It was hailed as a breakthrough in the fight to cut carbon emissions. In 2007, researchers found that heavy electricity users cut their consumption after being told that they used more energy than their neighbours. Almost a million US households have since received similar feedback and have cut electricity use by an average of 2.5 per cent.

But a new study has identified a wrinkle in the plan: the feedback only seems to work with liberals. Conservatives tend to ignore it. Some even respond by using more energy."

This story from New Scientist is further evidence of a tendency for climate deniers to inhabit the right-wing end of the political spectrum. (I am not, and neither is the story, saying that every conservative is a climate change denier, or vice versa.)