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An Example of Cognitive Dissonance

An Example of Cognitive Dissonance

    What the heck is “climate denial”? Is that even a thing?

    I mentioned on Periscope the other day that I created a Sunday comic as a cognitive dissonance trap. I wanted to see if I could make an argument about the reliability of ECONOMIC models and dupe irrational people into labelling me a climate denier. 

    As you can see below, the experiment worked as planned. Notice the excerpt below leaves out the part of the comic that mentions ECONOMIC models.

    I know many of you don’t believe I planned this as a cognitive dissonance trap. But I did. If I do something like this again, I’ll call it out for you in advance so you can follow the experiment.

    My hypothesis (to myself) was that i could make a public argument about the reliability of ECONOMIC models, and partisans on the climate debate would not be able to see the word ECONOMIC on the page. Literally.

    If you see the word ECONOMIC in the comic (twice), you probably can’t find anything objectionable about the point of it. Both sides of the debate would agree that you need an economic model to make a decision. And both sides would agree that no such credible model exists. 

    Science tries to tell you what is true, as best it can. Economics tells you how one true thing COMPARES to another true thing on cost. Those are very different models. For example, science might tell you the sea level will rise by three inches. But you need an economic model to decide whether spending money to address that problem is better than spending money to fix other problems. If you leave out the other options for spending your limited money, you have done no decision-making analysis whatsoever.

    No scientist would disagree with what I just said. Likewise, no scientist who sees the word “ECONOMIC” in my comic would find anything with which to disagree. The only way you can disagree with the comic is to (literally) hallucinate that it says something other than what it says. And that’s what happened. As I predicted.

    The trigger for cognitive dissonance is this:

    1. Climate scientists are 100% sure they are right.

    2. My comic explains that no credible decision-making models (economic models) exist. 

    3. Climate scientists reading my comic realize they haven’t done the work necessary to make their case to the public because science is only the first step. Economics is the tool you need for policy-setting and decision-making. And the economics of climate change – which would necessarily compare all spending options for our limited money – haven’t been modeled in any credible way. 

    4. Given this set-up, a climate scientist would either need to admit that his or her career-defining opinions about climate policy are incomplete (at best), or the scientist must spontaneously generate an illusion that masks the words ECONOMIC in my comic. In other words, climate alarmists experiencing a state of cognitive dissonance can read that comic ten times and not remember seeing the word ECONOMIC when done. I mean that literally. The word ECONOMIC will be mentally invisible to anyone in this cognitive dissonance trap.

    Try showing this comic to a climate alarmist friend and see how well the trap works. Look for your friend to fight like a wounded weasel to avoid talking about ECONOMIC models. And watch how quickly you get labelled a “climate denier.”

    As if that is even a thing.


    You might enjoy reading my book because science.

    I’m also on…

    Twitter (includes Periscope): @scottadamssays​

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