Claim: Climate Science can Change Minds, but Skeptics Undo Progress

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Essay by Eric Worrall

According to Associate Professor Thomas Wood, the impact of climate education is so fragile, exposure to climate skeptic voices rapidly undoes progress in changing minds and attitudes.

Jun 20, 2022

Science coverage of climate change can change minds – briefly

Accurate beliefs fade quickly, especially if challenged

Jeff Grabmeier Ohio State News grabmeier.1@osu.edu

Science reporting on climate change does lead Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs and support government action on the issue – but these gains are fragile, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that these accurate beliefs fade quickly and can erode when people are exposed to coverage skeptical of climate change.

“It is not the case that the American public does not respond to scientifically informed reporting when they are exposed to it,” said Thomas Wood, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

“But even factually accurate science reporting recedes from people’s frame of reference very quickly.”

The study will be published June 24, 2022, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Wood conducted the study with Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College and Ethan Porter of George Washington University.

Results showed that accurate science reporting didn’t persuade only Democrats – Republicans and people who initially rejected human-caused climate change also had their opinions shifted by reading accurate articles.

Wood said it was significant that accurate reporting had positive effects on all groups, including Republicans and those who originally rejected climate change.  But it was even more encouraging that it affected attitudes.

But the positive effects on people’s beliefs were short-lived, results showed.  These effects largely disappeared in later waves of the study.

In addition, opinion stories that were skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change reversed the accuracy gains generated by science coverage.

Read more: https://news.osu.edu/science-coverage-of-climate-change-can-change-minds–briefly/

Poor climate scientists, if only all the climate skeptics were silenced, they could persuade all the Republicans to join their crusade to slay the carbon demon. Or something like that.

via Watts Up With That?

June 21, 2022

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