Hi all. I'm working on a side project, and I ask for your help.
Have you been harmed by others' judgments or perceptions of you as a climate skeptic? Please send me your stories.
Climate skeptic is broad and vague, but what matters here are others' perceptions of you as questioning human-caused warming, or questioning or doubting its future severity, and so forth.
By harmed I mean things like discrimination at work or in business, or damage to personal relationships of all kinds, due to others' perceptions of you on this topic. For example, has it ever come up in a job interview or promotion? (Seems like it wouldn't come up, but there's a lot of variance in what happens in interviews, and sometimes people will just have casual conversations about whatever, and political or social issues can come up.)
Are any of you stereotyped or marginalized as cranks, conspiracy nuts, "deniers", etc. in your workplaces? Have people ascribed any other views to you based on you being climate skeptic?
Now I wonder about something more specific. Have any of the Lewandowsky scams come up yet in real life? For example, have has anyone assumed that you believed the moon landings were a hoax? Have people assumed that you don't think that HIV causes AIDS, or that smoking causes lung cancer? Have any of these specific issues popped up?
Moreover, did people who know that you're pro-free market or an economic conservative (for Europeans, I mean an economic liberal) think that you dispute that HIV causes AIDS?
The vector here is from the journal inexplicably publishing the Lewandowsky scam paper --> the various media outlets that covered it --> people read the articles and carry the false associations in their minds.
For example, there were articles in Mother Jones, the New York Times, and countless other places, that repeated the false claims made by Psychological Science and Lewandowsky. I'm wondering to what extent it's out there in the streets, so to speak. There are 7 billion people on earth, and I think any false psychology findings ascribing beliefs to a large group of people and reported in the mainsteam media will have an impact on some number of people.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
You go out on a first date, or several dates, then the other person learns about a view you hold and they end it. This happens all the time on anything. They learn that you're an atheist and it's over (happened to me once.) Or that you're a Baptist. They learn that you're a liberal/Democrat. Or that you're a conservative/Republican. These are dealbreakers for extremely partisan people where a large part of their moral identities and self-concept is tied up in their political affiliation.
You're at work and you say something about your views on human-caused warming, maybe minimize it's long-term impact. It has a chilling effect, and coworkers see you differently from that point on, think you're a nut, don't invite you to happy hour, etc. I'm guessing this is rare. In such a case, the coworkers would likely have to be very political and caught up in the "denier" narrative. I'm even more interested in cases where the Lewandowsky scams popped up, where someone said something like "Do you think the moon landings were a hoax?" or whispered to others that you dispute that HIV causes AIDS, after reading some junk article by Chris Mooney passing on the false findings.
And again, this doesn't have to be about climate skepticism necessarily. The false associations about AIDS and smoking were linked to pro-free market views, not climate skepticism, but I think all this would likely be jumbled together in the minds of people who read a hit piece in the media.
If you have any experiences you think are relevant here, please send me your stories. Thank you!
9/6/2014 09:55:50 am
Jose, I have never run into a problem like that. But I had a tough reputation and I never debated climate sensitivity at work. We ran projects to study how to sequester CO2, discussed Arctic ice characteristics, things like that. But our shop was mostly professionals who didn't get into extremism openly. Some even wore ties.
9/7/2014 12:18:51 pm
Hi Fernando -- I'm surprised that they think temperature is climbing steeply, since it's not true on the surface, and ocean temps never move steeply. I wonder where they got that idea. The way some people try to deny the pause is puzzling to me -- it's just temp data, not a theory, not inferred. I think the SS crowd tried to call the "slowdown" a myth, which was even more puzzling since using the word slowdown is usually how people try to spin the pause.
9/6/2014 03:23:50 pm
Jose, I don't know if you want negative reports, but I don't even know anyone who cares about global warming. I have never talked to anyone about it off the internet. I think my experience is probably pretty typical in the United States; there are lots of people who claim to be concerned about AGW, but hardly anyone who really cares enough to do anything at all. Some politicians, that's about it, and I never talk to politicians.
9/7/2014 06:00:39 am
Thanks Mike. I remember when I was in Chapel Hill, NC, and met an atheist meetup group. They felt like they were under seige -- they weren't academics, but professionals in all sorts of jobs, and they felt like they couldn't possibly allow their coworkers to discover that they were atheists. There are pockets of that kind of things all over America, especially the south and maybe the midwest. Phoenix would definitely not be a good place to be an atheist at work.
9/8/2014 04:55:08 am
Not exactly on topic, but this did make me think of Lawrence Keeley's book War Before Civilization, which deals with political/assumption biases on archaeology and anthropology, where he talks about how research funding can hinge in not conflicting with the prevailing opinions in the field. Not sure if you've seen this book, but it's relevant to the broader issue of politics and assumptions bussing science.
9/11/2014 02:22:07 am
Here is a blog-commenter's attack on Matt Ridley that ascribes him Lewandowsky-inferred denial due to his free market beliefs (found at this odious blog http://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/matt-ridley-you-seem-a-little-too-certain/).
9/11/2014 03:39:20 am
Interesting. The correlation between enthusiasm for markets and climate change skepticism is almost certainly real. Though I don't know if being pro-markets makes one *likely* to be a skeptic, which is a different question and more relevant to such inferences. Correlation conceals a lot, and doesn't mean quite what people think.
9/12/2014 01:54:15 am
Ha, that's a weird one. Sounds like she lacked the conviction of her atheism, whereas my girlfriend was too rigid. For her any agnostic allowance - no matter how flippant - was taken as an acknowledgment of Christianity as a plausible belief system. Interesting inability to distinguish, and is I suppose an example of what can happen where atheism is born of vehemently detesting religion, rather than just putting it to one side as implausible. For example she wouldn't 'get' a literary appreciation of the Song of Soloman, it would be too intertwined with the idea of it as scripture.
10/22/2014 11:48:14 pm
The best thing to do is define God as the 'ultimate force of the universe' and no-one can deny His existence. This does of course, mean that He's not outside the universe (which is not completely described by physics). But it does normally help folk to be OK with other people's opinions.Although, I have found my grandchildren of 6 and 8 years quarrelling rather badly about creation ...
9/16/2014 05:17:19 pm
This is like a negative result, only more verbose. :-D
9/16/2014 05:27:35 pm
1/9/2015 08:28:38 am
It's an indication of how small the sceptical world is that I feel I know two of your previous commenters intimately.
1/9/2015 12:45:21 pm
If it isn't my old accomplice Geoff Chambers! Small skeptical world, as they say.
Leave a Reply.
José L. Duarte
Social Psychology, Scientific Validity, and Research Methods.