Climate Science Glossary

Term Lookup

Enter a term in the search box to find its definition.

Settings

Use the controls in the far right panel to increase or decrease the number of terms automatically displayed (or to completely turn that feature off).

Term Lookup

Settings


All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

Home Arguments Software Resources Comments The Consensus Project Translations About Donate

Twitter Facebook YouTube Pinterest

RSS Posts RSS Comments Email Subscribe


Climate's changed before
It's the sun
It's not bad
There is no consensus
It's cooling
Models are unreliable
Temp record is unreliable
Animals and plants can adapt
It hasn't warmed since 1998
Antarctica is gaining ice
View All Arguments...



Username
Password
Keep me logged in
New? Register here
Forgot your password?

Latest Posts

Archives

Climate Hustle

Study: real facts can beat 'alternative facts' if boosted by inoculation

Posted on 24 January 2017 by dana1981

It’s fitting that as Donald Trump continues to flirt with anti-vaccine conspiracy theories, inoculation may provide the key to effectively debunking this sort of misinformation.

That’s the finding of a new study published in Global Challenges by Sander van der Linden, Anthony Leiserowitz, Seth Rosenthal, and Edward Maibach. The paper tested what’s known as “inoculation theory,” explained in the video below by John Cook, who’s also published research on the subject. The video is a lecture from the Denial101x free online course, which itself is structured based on inoculation theory:

According to inoculation theory, facts are important but by themselves aren’t sufficient to convince people as long as misinformation is also present. People also have to be inoculated against the misinformation, for example through an explanation of the logical fallacy underpinning the myth.

To test the theory, the study authors ran an experiment using a fact that’s been subjected to a tremendous misinformation campaign: the 97% expert consensus on human-caused global warming. There’s been some debate among social scientists about consensus messaging, with most research suggesting it’s effective and important at convincing people about the importance of climate change. 

However, Dan Kahan has argued that given science communicators’ efforts over the past decade to inform the public about the expert consensus, the fact that so few people are aware of it suggests that consensus messaging is a dud. If it were going to work, it should have worked by now, the argument goes.

This new study guts that argument. In their experiment, the scientists first asked their representative American subjects “To the best of your knowledge, what percentage of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening?”. The average answer was between 70% and 73%. Each group was then presented with evidence of the 97% expert consensus. That raised the average answer to about 90%. As you would expect, facts were effective when presented by themselves.

The authors ran three more tests. First, after showing the 97% consensus evidence in pie chart form, they then presented a group with a piece of misinformation – the infamous Oregon Petition, which is often used to argue there is no climate consensus. This misinformation completely offset the influence of the facts – the subjects’ answers in this group fell all the way back down to a 73% perceived consensus.

In the next tests, after showing the evidence of 97% consensus, the scientists “inoculated” the groups against the misinformation. In one test, they informed the group “Some politically-motivated groups use misleading tactics to try to convince the public that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists.” In the final test, they provided much more detail about the specific flaws in the Oregon Petition, and how it misinforms people. 

After then showing these groups the Oregon Petition misinformation, the average perceived consensus rose to 80% in the first test, and 84% in the second test. The inoculation offset about half to two-thirds of the effect of the misinformation, and participants’ perception moved closer to the truth.

As lead author Sander van der Linden explained, the effectiveness of the inoculation across the political spectrum was particularly encouraging:

We found that inoculation messages were equally effective in shifting the opinions of Republicans, Independents and Democrats in a direction consistent with the conclusions of climate science. What’s striking is that, on average, we found no backfire effect to inoculation messages among groups predisposed to reject climate science, they didn’t seem to retreat into conspiracy theories. There will always be people completely resistant to change, but we tend to find there is room for most people to change their minds, even just a little.

As John Cook put it:

The intriguing result was the inoculation worked across the political spectrum - even among conservatives - which tells me that nobody likes to be deceived.

These results suggest that consensus messaging hasn’t been terribly effective at changing peoples’ minds about climate change because there’s been a simultaneous misinformation counter-campaign, articulated by Republican strategist Frank Luntz in his infamous leaked memo:

Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.

Those who oppose taking action to curb climate change have heeded Luntz’s call. “There is no consensus” is the fourth most popular myth in the Skeptical Science database. An analysis of climate editorials published by conservative columnists between 2007 and 2010 found that “no consensus” was far and away the most popular myth, made in a whopping 64% of their climate editorials. The climate consensus misinformation campaign has been robust, and as in van der Linden’s study, canceled out much the effect of the 97% consensus fact.

Click here to read the rest

0 0

Bookmark and Share Printable Version  |  Link to this page

Comments

There have been no comments posted yet.

You need to be logged in to post a comment. Login via the left margin or if you're new, register here.



Get It Here or via iBooks.


The Consensus Project Website

TEXTBOOK

THE ESCALATOR

(free to republish)

THE DEBUNKING HANDBOOK

BOOK NOW AVAILABLE

The Scientific Guide to
Global Warming Skepticism

Smartphone Apps

iPhone
Android
Nokia

© Copyright 2017 John Cook
Home | Links | Translations | About Us | Contact Us