Wrapped in Lew Papers: The psychology of climate psychologization – Part2

While the above quotes represent a tiny fraction of offerings from the field of psychology, and indeed there’s heaps of text I haven’t sampled, finding anyone who is applying psychological principles to the whole domain is a bit like searching for the Holy Grail. So far, I’m coming to the conclusion that the entire discipline appears to have missed the fact that there is absolutely masses of psychology going on in the Consensus too, which is a far larger and far more coherent and far more dominant social entity than anything aligned to overt skepticism. If they did but apply their tools and knowledge to the whole domain, then the place of skepticism (plus a largely inert public – poll figures are provided in Post 3) within the overall psychological interplay, may well emerge as a much simpler answer than the ‘unique’ 30 barriers (or however many). Of course such an inquiry will likely expose some uncomfortable characteristics of the Consensus, e.g. that its ‘truths’ are not after all absolute or its bias minimal, hence worldview aligned psychologists could be afraid to tread there. So, these posts are applying their acquired knowledge to the whole domain upon their behalf, doing what they seem very unwilling to do for themselves. And in taking such knowledge mostly from the papers by Lewandowsky and associated authors (he appears to hold the most extreme position regarding the touted illegitimacy of climate skeptics, so-called ‘deniers’), there can be no possible objection about sampling work from the discipline of psychology which might have some inherent sympathy to climate skeptics, or be ‘tainted’ by some subconscious resistance to the Consensus.

Summarized as warnings for an individual seeking to avoid bias, the various papers by Lewandowsky and associated authors as examined in the first post (see refs at end), include the following wisdom:
Type 1: Beware of the bias from one’s worldview.
Type 2: Beware of the bias caused by explicit emotive content.
∙∙∙∙∙∙Type 2A: Beware of implied emotional content, which via a powerful type 1 reaction may  enhance or attenuate Type 2 (essentially an interaction of 1 & 2).
Type 3: Beware of the bias from the CIE, which can never be wholly eliminated.
∙∙∙∙∙∙Type 3A: Beware of information that does not come with health warnings.
∙∙∙∙∙∙Type 3B: Try to be aware of corrections / retractions; be suspicious if these are not on a par with the vigor of the original information transmission.
∙∙∙∙∙∙Type 3C: Be healthily skeptical; suspicions based on innate skepticism reduce the CIE.
Type 4: Beware of the ‘third person effect’, especially for oft repeated / saturating information.

So now we’ll look at the applicability of each of these warnings to the social phenomenon of CAGW, and hence to the enormous body of information that this has engendered in recent decades (including both CAGW consensus information – the big majority of transmissions, and opposing skeptical information – a small minority of transmissions).

Regarding Type 1, first of all we have to assess whether CAGW is the kind of topic which will arouse worldview motivated reactions. Is the topic itself expressed in worldview terms, for instance? Despite that the ‘C’ in CAGW means catastrophic, essentially on a world-wide scale, a worldview expression is not necessarily implied. The topic could be both expressed and perceived as one of ‘pure science’, for instance, or ‘flat fate’, and therefore mostly insulated from worldview impacts. The latter would be the case for a large meteorite on a certain collision course with Earth, for example, one much too large to fend off by any means known or imagined. It is what it is; one’s worldview would not be too relevant, except maybe for seeking solace in prayer. However, despite the fact that CAGW is not infrequently presented as a narrow topic of science plus ‘obvious’ tightly coupled policy, it is clearly acknowledged to spill well outside such scope, overwhelmingly so in fact, into practically every area of social thought and enterprise. This can only mean that CAGW is indeed an ‘insistent culture’ in its own right, and therefore one that will create, enhance, morph, ally with, challenge, and outright combat pre-existing worldviews.

It is hardly surprising that clear acknowledgement as underlined above is expressed by many skeptics from different backgrounds. However, these are the ‘dissenters’, right? Maybe they’re exaggerating? Maybe Big Oil has paid them to artificially expand the perceived social scope? Okay then, so what do those from the core Consensus itself within CAGW think about the scope? How do they themselves view this phenomena which they so ardently support?

Well let’s start with Consensus climate scientist Mike Hulme, from his 2009 book ‘Why We Disagree about Climate Change’:
∙∙∙∙∙∙The function of climate change I suggest, is not as a lower-case environmental phenomenon to be solved…It really is not about stopping climate chaos. Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate change – the matrix of ecological functions, power relationships, cultural discourses and materials flows that climate change reveals – to rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic and personal projects over the decades to come.
∙∙∙∙∙∙   Climate change also teaches us to rethink what we really want for ourselves…mythical ways of thinking about climate change reflect back to us truths about the human condition. . . .
∙∙∙∙∙∙   The idea of climate change should be seen as an intellectual resource around which our collective and personal identifies and projects can form and take shape. We need to ask not what we can do for climate change, but to ask what climate change can do for us…Because the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical, and spiritual needs.
∙∙∙∙∙∙   …climate change has become an idea that now travels well beyond its origins in the natural sciences…climate change takes on new meanings and serves new purposes…climate change has become “the mother of all issues”, the key narrative within which all environmental politics – from global to local – is now framed…Rather than asking “how do we solve climate change?” we need to turn the question around and ask: “how does the idea of climate change alter the way we arrive at and achieve our personal aspirations…?

Next page for more…

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