From Watts Up With That?
In the long tradition of Lewandowsky (who warrants an entire category listing on this site), Cook, Oreskes, and more, we have a new entry into the well-worn genre of trying to understand the uneducated knuckle dragging savages known colloquially as “Climate Deniers.”, and how to “communicate” with them.
You have to love the Abstract, emphasis mine:
Scientists have developed a strong consensus that Earth’s climate is changing and that human activities play an important role in these changes. However, current research shows that in the United States, there is significant partisan polarization on climate change and its causes, leading to climate denialism. In this paper, we shed light on the political and social determinants of climate action. Using a May 2022 nationally representative survey of American registered voters (n = 2,096), we examine the multivariate correlates of trust in university research and opinions about climate change. Our results confirm that segments of the American electorate do not believe climate change is a problem for the United States and that climate change is not a consequence of human activities. But we also show that part of the problem regarding climate denialism is a lack of trust in university research. We argue for a comprehensive four-stage research strategy based on the empirical results. First, more research must be done to understand who trusts or distrusts university research on climate change and who is persuadable. Second, more research is needed on climate communication framing and messaging. Third, additional research on appropriate messaging is necessary. Finally, we need to develop a culture of trust in climate research and how it is communicated across society.
The cult of expertocrasy that has consumed academia in the last couple of decades is truly a destructive and totalitarian cult. These researchers are so ensconced in their belief in consensus “science” that they appear to be incapable of any kind of objective research.
This “paper” is really a hoot. They cite another paper of the genre that argues for a Climate Science strike.
That significant climate denialism exists in the United States, despite the scientific research showing that climate change is real and that it is being influenced by human activities, has generated significant frustration in the climate science community. This frustration has reached such a point that some climate scientists have recently argued “for scientists to agree to a moratorium on climate change research as a means to first expose, then renegotiate, the broken science-society contract”
Here is the quote from the cited paper.
Climate change science is settled to the point of global consensus. We have fulfilled our responsibility to provide robust knowledge. We now need to stop research in those areas where we are simply documenting global warming and maladaptation, and focus instead on exposing and renegotiating the broken science-society contract. The IPCC’s 6th Assessment will be completed in 2022. Will the response to this assessment be any different to the previous five assessments? Nothing indicates that this will be the case. In fact, given the rupture of the science-society contract outlined here, it would be wholly irresponsible for scientists to participate in a 7th IPCC assessment. We therefore call for a halt to further IPCC assessments. We call for a moratorium on climate change research until governments are willing to fulfil their responsibilities in good faith and urgently mobilize coordinated action from the local to global levels. This third option is the only effective way to arrest the tragedy of climate change science.
In my best Willie Wonka voice. Please don’t go on strike Climate Scientists. Please don’t.
Like most papers of this genre the paper ends up arguing for the development of better propaganda techniques to “solve” the “problem”.
Second, and relatedly, we need more research on the framing and messages needed to strengthen trust for the already trusting and persuade those with more malleable opinions. Furthermore, these results suggest scientists cannot necessarily expect that these groups will automatically trust their work, even if their research is of high quality and well-evidenced. Instead, scientists need to be more sensitive to understanding how to translate and discuss their work in ways that are understandable, and which generate trust among the public. We believe that the Generalizing Persuasion Framework (GPF) may be useful for guiding the next stages of study regarding trust in climate and sustainability science . Scientists will need to be briefed about how to best frame and discuss their research in ways that will establish trust in their work. For instance, we refer in Section 1 to Rekker’s  generalizable object of science polarization framework, which provides two interpretative lenses to understand Psychological Science Rejection (PSR) and Ideological Science Rejection (ISR). Frameworks like these may be helpful for improving public trust in science by identifying PSR and ISR trigger points.
Similarly, Druckman’s  conceptualization of GPF allows identification of contradictory statements through a multidimensional lens involving different actors, treatments, outcomes and settings (see Table 1 in ). As we highlighted above, GPF can guide in selecting appropriate speakers, topics, message content, and framing of climate action to lead to desired outcomes across diverse attitudes, behavior, emotions and identities that may help in handling PSR and ISR. Future research should study the effectiveness of various components in GPF for improving trust in university research.
Third, additional research on the appropriate messengers is necessary. It is not necessarily the case that the best messengers for establishing trust in university research are the researchers themselves, instead other types of ingroup messengers might be best for communicating climate research [14,65]. While additional research is necessary, our survey results indicate that religious organizations and leaders might provide an important mechanism for the generation of higher levels of trust in university research. There may be other trusted leaders and influencers, who when provided well-crafted messages can help solidify trust and persuade those who might have more malleable opinions.
Make sure to swallow your coffee or juice before reading the entire paper.
Citation: Alvarez RM, Debnath R, Ebanks D (2023) Why don’t Americans trust university researchers and why it matters for climate change. PLOS Clim 2(9): e0000147. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pclm.0000147
Editor: Malcolm Fairbrother, Umeå University, SWEDEN
Received: December 11, 2022; Accepted: August 7, 2023; Published: September 6, 2023