Kathryn Schulz Talks Climate Confusion at Poptech 2010
Why are so many people flat-out wrong about climate change? Why is it that there's a huge, sturdy foundation of scientific evidence supporting the idea that humans are warming the atmosphere, with a nearly unprecedented consensus among scientists that this is the case--and yet plenty of people still don't believe it? I caught up with Kathryn Schulz, the author of Being Wrong and former editor of Grist, at this year's Poptech to get her take:Schulz emphasizes three major ways that people get climate change wrong: First, it's a complicated, messy topic, and people delegate the task of understanding it to so-called experts--many of whom may or may not actually be climate scientists or experts in the field. Second, the creation of a false debate--over whether the basic science supporting the notion that human emissions are warming the climate is sound or not--has lead many astray:
But her most important insight, the one that she stressed to me as being particularly central to this problem, is that of initial information: People are more inclined to believe things the way that they're outlined to them from the onset. So if somebody's first contact with climate change is through a link they were forwarded about how climate change is a global conspiracy cooked up by Al Gore, they'll be more likely to view the entire issue skeptically from then on. Incidentally, Schulz isn't so concerned about those climate skeptics:
Schulz also blogs about being wrong on her Slate blog the Wrong Stuff.
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