From time to time we’ve had fun on this blog with the comical attempts of academics in sociology and psychology to understand, deal with, and convert to the true faith, “climate deniers”. Here is a new classic of the genre, from the highly prestigious Stanford University.
The press release is Pathways to changing the minds of climate deniers, and the paper is Understanding and countering the motivated roots of climate change denial, published in a journal called Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability.
The press release starts off with
Want to sway the opinion of climate deniers? Start by acknowledging and respecting people’s beliefs.
Yes, that’s the way to do it, show them respect by referring to them as “climate deniers”!
The lead author of this work is, apparently, Gabrielle Wong-Parodi. At this point, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole thing is a Sokal-style parody, ridiculing the idiocy of social psychology and the climate cult.
But no, like the feminist glaciology paper, this is real. Wong-Parodi does exist and has her own lab – though it does seem to have a bit of a diversity problem, and it isn’t clear whether the “lab” does much more than express its own opinions.
The press release continues with
However, the researchers found that those who deny human causes for climate change can be swayed through conversations that appeal to their different identities, reframe solutions – or even embrace their climate views.
“I think in the climate change sphere there’s this thinking of, ‘there’s the deniers over there, let’s just not even engage with them – it’s not worth it,’” said behavioral scientist Gabrielle Wong-Parodi, lead author of the paper published in Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability Jan. 8. “A lot of the tactics and strategies start from the point that something is wrong with the climate deniers, rather than trying to acknowledge that they have a belief and opinion and it matters. But I think there is an opportunity to keep trying to understand one another, especially now.”
Great. So what conversations did the researchers have with climate deniers? To what extent did Dr Wong-Parodi engage with them? How did she try to understand them? What studies or surveys did they undertake?
The answer is — they did nothing at all. Zero engagement. Zilch. All they did was read the literature, from the usual clueless suspects – Brulle, Dunlap, Maibach, McCright, Oreskes, etc, and regurgitate their conclusions. The abstract of the paper says
We draw largely on studies conducted in the United States, whose population is exceptionally high on climate denial and disengagement.
The press release and the paper show a nice example of psychological projection from the researchers, exhibiting their own obsession with identity politics. From the press release,
“I think we often forget that people can have many identities – there might be a political identity, but there is also an identity as a mother, or an identity as a friend or an identity as a student,” said Wong-Parodi, who is also a fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. “You can elicit other identities when you’re talking about climate change that may be more effective.”
The paper has a whole section on identity, include such wisdom as
… people form opinions based not on facts or information, but on the need to affiliate with and be accepted by groups they identify with. Importantly, people also have strong group affiliations and identities based on their gender, race, ethnicity, and other personal or social facets of their lives, as well as a sense of identity with the environment. These identities can contribute to attitudes toward climate change, and be powerful drivers of connection, concern, and engagement.
Of course, anyone with an iota of understanding of the issue will be aware that it is the self-righteous, middle-class, modern-left climate activists who are driven by their identity and their group membership. A glance at their own twitter account shows their obsession with gender (or blatant sexism) which I’ve already alluded to. Climate skeptics don’t have a group identity – we’re a random bunch of eccentric misfits with little in common at all, besides perhaps a healthy disrespect for authority and an ability to think for ourselves. Do any of you feel the “need to be accepted by groups you identify with”? Me neither. Our “group” includes a retired ex-pat magazine illustrator who campaigns for the Communist Party, a female animal rights campaigner, a nerdy maths lecturer, an Australian satirist… not much group identity there.
The paper claims that their approaches “provide insight into underlying psychological dynamics”. Well, it provides no insight whatsoever into climate scepticism, but it does provide insight into the muddled thinking and groupthink of the insulated echo chamber in which the authors live.