Jonathan Haidt: How common threats can make common (political) ground

Comments:

  1. Ok, up to a point ... but be careful about the "a plague on both your houses" ... I do not know many who would would reject the Medicare spending problem with the same vehemence and absolutism with which deniers deny climate science.

    After all, when the evidence is in front of you, you have to admit it is a problem. The problem with being "in denial" is that you find umpteen sneaky ways to pretend the evidence is wrong or does not exist.

    President Obama does seem aware of issues like Medicare spend and inequality- he has never denied they are a problem AT ALL, like Mitt Romney had done about climate change. No one accused the Congressional Budget Office of producing fraudulent data, of only being in it for grant money, of basing its results on faulty economics or that it was part of a vast conspiracy to create more taxes.

  2. All this highfalutin’ hypothesizing doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the “real” America. Jonathan Haidt makes some excellent points in the sexy TED style, but he’s preaching to the converted. We've all seen the demonization of RealClimate, SkepticalScience, Tamino et al., and it's clear none of the detractors have actually looked at what they are criticizing.

    Apologies for the repeat, borrowed from another topic ...

  3. OK, finished listening, and I overstated the case. However, as far as the eye can see, just the opposite path is being promoted by a very organized and wealthy few. It would be nice if they would wake up. This looks and sounds nice, but will never reach the vast prairies where hate and fear are being stoked and armed.

    • There is some evidence that changing the attitudes of political elites can make a significant impact.

      Shifting public opinion on climate change: an empirical assessment of factors influencing concern over climate change in the U.S., 2002–2010

      This paper conducts an empirical analysis of the factors affecting U.S. public concern about the threat of climate change between January 2002 and December 2010. Utilizing Stimson’s method of constructing aggregate opinion measures, data from 74 separate surveys over a 9-year period are used to construct quarterly measures of public concern over global climate change. We examine five factors that should account for changes in levels of concern: 1) extreme weather events, 2) public access to accurate scientific information, 3) media coverage, 4) elite cues, and 5) movement/countermovement advocacy. A time-series analysis indicates that elite cues and structural economic factors have the largest effect on the level of public concern about climate change. While media coverage exerts an important influence, this coverage is itself largely a function of elite cues and economic factors. Weather extremes have no effect on aggregate public opinion. Promulgation of scientific information to the public on climate change has a minimal effect. The implication would seem to be that information-based science advocacy has had only a minor effect on public concern, while political mobilization by elites and advocacy groups is critical in influencing climate change concern.


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