Adam Corner’s Talking Climate blog provides another example of the activist wing within social sciences fooling themselves.
Victoria Wibeck believes that there is a “persistent and problematic paradox”. Despite the overwhelming evidence for climate change and the high levels of concern people express, we still are not taking action on climate change. We are concerned about climate change, but not engaged. Previously I called this The Norgaard Delusion, after Kari Norgaard’s puzzlement over the fact that people said, when asked, that they were concerned about climate change, but didn’t talk about it all the time and continued their normal lives. The blog post goes on to consider “How can climate change be made to feel meaningful in people’s everyday lives and how can they be encouraged towards collective, affirmative action?”
Wibeck’s post provides a good example of confirmation bias – she selects survey results that tell the story she wants to tell, and ignores things that don’t. She cites a Special Eurobarometer survey that was all about climate change, to support her belief that climate change is a high priority (circular reasoning). If she had looked at the Standard Eurobarometer 80 survey she might have seen this:
And it’s a similar story in the US.
She also quotes from the “Climate Change in the American Mind” survey, picking out the third bullet point but ignoring the first one that says “There has been an increase in the proportion of Americans who believe global warming is not happening (23%, up 7 percentage points since April 2013)”.
There is no paradox. Wibeck and others in the groupthink-circle are fooling themselves. Time for another Feynman quote:
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists.