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Conservative voters are blind, with deficient mental software, says psychologists

The implications are staggering, half the population fail at blink tests, and can’t see newspaper headlines about “climate change”. If only we could make them see by using rhetorical and psychological trickery to get past their faulty filters, the world would be saved. Please send us another grant!

The research you’ve been waiting for:

Why some conservatives are blind to climate change

Naturally, this self-serving, circular, and poorly researched piece is brought to you by The Conversation. Where else?

The big insight looks like pattern seeking and confirmation bias to me:

When we modified the test to measure people’s attention to climate change, we found people who are concerned about climate change are better at seeing climate-related words, such as carbon, right after the first target than those who are less concerned.

When we analyzed the data, we found a pattern: Conservatives who were less concerned about climate change were less likely to see climate-related words than liberals who were worried about the issue.

In short, conservatives showed climate change blindness.

Or in another hypothesis, conservatives had better filters for pointless news stories with a prediction success rate lower than random chance. From experience, conservatives have figured out that these news stories are a waste of time.

The evidence suggests instead that Climate-change voters show reality blindness. (See the evidence list and references here).

Wrong with their first fact. Please, someone teach these Profs to use a search engine

The real problem with this study is that it starts from flawed assumptions, and everything “builds” on that. Apparently they only get their news from the BBC, or possibly 350.org flyers:

Despite the strong evidence that human activities are contributing to climate change, a small minority of the public disagrees with the scientific consensus.

Skeptics are an absolute majority and have been for years, repeatedly, consistently, and across the continents. Someone should tell these PhD’s about things called “polls”. A ten-second online search shows 56% of Canadians are skeptics. Likewise,  54% of Australians are skeptics (a CSIRO estimate). The OECD estimates  Australian skeptics outnumber believers. A very well done British survey show skeptics are a “minority” of 62%.  A third in the US are not just skeptical they think it’s a total hoax. (And that was years ago, before The Trump. It would be higher now).

If a majority “agreed with the consensus” why is it that most Australians don’t want to pay even a tiny $10 a month for renewables to save the world? Nearly half of US adults don’t want to pay $1 a month.  And The British don’t want to pay a cent.

So the three authors based their entire research on untested assumptions that they may have sourced in a Greenpeace seminar (which is what the BBC did).  Perhaps they formed their opinions surrounded by young left-wing lecturers and then went on to become three of the same.

A professor or bright undergrad,
Can easily be duped and be had,
By those who hoodwink,
Through consensus group-think,
To fall for the climate-change fad.


The way to (Not) win over skeptics

Genius advice in communication apparently starts with calling people demeaning names:

We can do this by using messages that align with people’s political ideologies and personal values.

For example, we can frame climate change action as protecting our nation against climate catastrophes, advancing economic and technological development and creating a more caring and considerate society, which is an effective message to engage climate deniers.

Good luck with this theory:

Framing environmentalism as a form of patriotism can be successful, particularly if the appeal is seen as coming from one’s in-group.

It’s always hard to get someone’s attention, but if the messaging is in line with their personal values and motivations, they will take notice.

 Messaging can be “in line” with personal values, but junk-in-line is still junk. Unproven half-truths and wild extrapolations won’t convince anyone bar the gullible groupthinkers.

The Authors:

The authors are three psychologists: Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University and    Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia

Jiaying Zhao is the Canada Research Chair (t2) in Behavioral Sustainability, whatever that is. The other two are variations of neuroscientists. Sadly, none of them understand how to test their assumptions, avoid confirmation bias, and design a meaningful study. But they look like nice people.

The three are funded by:   NSERC, NSF, Sloan Foundation, Mitacs, and US Forest Service.  SSHRC. CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, MSFHR, MITACS, The Templeton Foundation.

 I predict comments will be closed there by the time you read this. (Go on, please, moderators at The Conversation, prove me wrong.)

Re: All the grants that funded these researchers? We’d like our money back. Conservatives are half the population. This unresearched, namecalling, unchecked article (and lack of protest by other people in their universities) is further evidence that universities should be privatized and immediately.

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