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Four big reasons why deniers started believing in climate change

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Quartz April 24 2017  Full article here

It began, like many things on Reddit, with a simple question: “Former climate change deniers, what changed your mind?” More than 600 posts later, AskReddit was able to not only offer insights into that question, but also shed some light on why people initially rejected the consensus view held by 97% of climate scientists that the Earth is rapidly warming because of human activity.

Yale Climate Connections analyzed 66 answers describing the motivation behind the conversion. The biggest reason was a slow acceptance of clear scientific evidence [then risk of environmental damage, erratic weather and climate deniers’ lack of credibility]…..4 reasons deniers

Seeing graphs of atmospheric carbon dioxde and overwhelming data supporting the conclusion that humans are rapidly, catastrophically warming the planet was convincing for many.…The desire to safeguard the Earth, evidence of extreme weather, and dubious sources among climate change deniers sealed the deal for most of the rest.

But why did people reject climate change in the first place? Family was the most common reason. “Mostly because my family rigorously shot it down whenever it was remotely mentioned,” one person wrote… But personal politics and identity were a close second (and are cited as top reasons in other studies)…

…people tend to reject the validity of scientific evidence when it conflicts with their deeply held world-views. Instead, suggests Kahan in Mother Jones, present information in ways that already align with people’s beliefs without triggering emotional, defensive responses.

Kahan tested this concept by showing people of various viewpoints two fake newspaper articles: “Scientific Panel Recommends Anti-Pollution Solution to Global Warming” and “Scientific Panel Recommends Nuclear Solution to Global Warming.” For conservative individuals (” hierarchical individualists” in the study) who doubted climate change, the second article was far more effective at convincing them that humans caused global warming. Kahan suspects this is because the science was presented in an existing pro-industry narrative.

How do you change peoples’ minds? Lead with values. That gives facts a chance.

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