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The Persuasion Advantage and Climate Science

The Persuasion Advantage and Climate Science

    As I have often said in this blog, I don’t have the tools to evaluate the basic science about climate change, and neither do you. The difference is that you might be under the illusion that you do have those tools. 

    However, I do have a good eye for effective communication, and good persuasion, and most of that talent seems to be bunched on one side of the debate. The non-alarmists simply have more persuasive arguments than do those in the scientific consensus. That doesn’t mean the persuasive side is also the correct side. Persuasion is often divorced from facts. But I think the persuasion gap goes a long way in explaining why we can’t agree on climate science. 

    Here’s a link to a persuasive geologist who tells us not to worry about climate change. Again, I can’t evaluate his scientific claims. But his persuasion is nearly perfect. The only problem with his persuasion is that he appears to have ties to the energy industry. That means his credibility is low while his persuasion is excellent. Strange combination. Most viewers of this clip won’t notice, or won’t care, about his industry connections, so the persuasion still works.

    Obviously the climate scientists working in the field have strong arguments that make sense to other scientists. That’s what makes it a consensus. But that side does a terrible job of selling their point of view to the public. Mostly we’re asked to trust the experts. And we don’t trust experts who would be drummed out of their chosen field if they got out of step. And we trust them less when they say they aren’t influenced by that sort of thing. It’s hard to trust a scientist who acts as if the field of cognitive science doesn’t apply to scientists.

    If history is our guide, it will take 30 seconds for one of you to produce a debunking link for the link I provided. And I will look at that debunking link and have no way to evaluate its credibility. 

    On the left, the prevailing notion is that the folks on the right are ignorant of science, and that’s the problem. There are plenty of anecdotal examples that support that worldview.

    On the right, the prevailing notion is that the left are gullible, and only half-informed because their news sources filter out the skeptics. If you are on the left, and haven’t seen the clip I provided, that supports this view.

    My view is that the left has more climate science experts and the right has more persuasive arguments. My usual bias is to side with the consensus of scientists. But it’s hard to understand why their side is so unpersuasive. The side that has the scientific consensus behind it usually has an enormous persuasion advantage. Why is it different this time?

    If I ever figure that out, I’ll let you know.

    Scott Adams

    Co-founder of WhenHub, because you will love it.

    Author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big, because you need a book for your upcoming trip.

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