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Reader Comments (6)

Dan -

Thought you might find this interesting:

February 22, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua-- thanks!

February 22, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

In case you're tempted to think that it is the tone or vehicle of "realist" messaging that makes a difference with the kind of reaction it engenders in "skeptics" (i.e., it isn't merely the contention that ACO2 poses risk that engenders identity-aggressive behaivors/identity protective cognition)...

Check out the comments...

February 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua


I'm genuinely confused about what a "realist" is; am I right that it is used inconsistently to refer to both skeptics of & believers in climate change?

February 24, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Dan -

I use the terms "skeptics" and "realists" (always in quotes) to refer to those who are relatively more or less concerned about ACO2 emissions, respectively.

It is a problem to find terms to describe people along that dimension.

Terms such as "denier" and "alarmist" and "warmist" are intentionally pejorative and functionally labels in service of identity protective cognition, not to mention so vague as to be essentially meaningless.

I use the the terms "skeptic" and "realist" because many on one side like the term skeptic and many on the other side like the term realist - so at least the pejorative aspect is reduced. But in my experience, those terms without quote marks are not terribly accurate nor descriptive, as many people who like to be called skeptics are not terribly skeptical and many people who like to be called realists are not very realistic.

IMO, the best terms are "those who are relatively concerned about the risks posed by ACO2 emissions" and "those who are relatively less concerned about the risks posed by ACO2 emissions,' but they are so awkward as to be not practicable in most situations.

i will note that your terminology is problematic because if you refer to "skeptics" as "people who don't believe in climate change," many will object that they "do believe in climate change" and add that they believe that "the climate has always been changing."

Not to mention that your own work shows that many "skeptics" do believe that the climate is currently changing and arguably, also believe that ACO2 emissions are currently changing the climate, contingent on the contextual framework where they are evaluating the issue (i.e., the farmer in Kentucky). Also, many "skeptics" say that they don't doubt that ACO2 emissions are changing the climate, they only feel that we don't know the magnitude of the anthropogenic effect. Of course, it is interesting that many of those same "skeptics" also make contradictory arguments that suggest that they have great certainty about the magnitude of the effect (that it definitely isn't as large as the range estimated by the IPCC), and/or argue that none of the ways that climate scientists have measured the effect are valid. To make it even more interesting, many "skeptics" also argue that none of the temperature records showing climate change are valid, even as they argue that those same temperature records show a "pause in global warming."

It's an old story: Cognitive dualism abounds in service of identity-protective cognition related to climate change (and in ways that I personally think are more stark than what you show with the Kentucky farmer, btw).

February 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua


Good comment!

I know I don't often say this, but that sort of balance deserves it.

February 24, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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