First Click: Climate change deniers, like fanboys, don’t care about your science

August 11th, 2015

Climate change is a hot topic in politics. That climate change is happening and that humanity has something to do with it isn’t up for debate anymore. How to deal with it is.

Still, climate change has its deniers.

You’d think that these people could be convinced with a bit of education. If they knew what the scientists knew then surely they’d change their minds. That’s what I thought, anyway — it’s not true. In fact, it’s the opposite. Or so says the research from Dan Kahan, professor of law and psychology at Yale, and member of the Cultural Cognition Project which tries to explain how we come to hold our beliefs.

Last night, while listening to the episode titled “Why do we really follow the news?” from the excellent Freakonomics podcast, I was treated to this enlightening quote from Kahan:

"As people become more science literate, cultural polarization increases. If you have the kind of cultural predisposition that makes you skeptical of environmental risks, then as you become more science literate you’re even more skeptical. If you have the kind of cultural predisposition that makes you concerned about environmental risk, as you become more science literate you become even more concerned."

When you think about it, climate change deniers aren’t too different from flat-earthers, birthers, or people that believe the moon landings were filmed inside a Hollywood studio. Kahan's science shows that your scientific arguments don't matter to people with a cultural predisposition to distrust the powers at be. It also helps explain the futility of arguing with fanboys.

If you have the kind of cultural predisposition that makes you align with Apple, then no chart or carefully crafted arrangement of the alphabet proving Google’s superiority can change that (and vice versa).

The flame wars found in the internet comments on gadget and environmental articles are really just the flailing insecurities of individuals rationalizing their own choices. Tender egos staunchly defended after being seared by the white-hot corporate brand; be it Democrat vs. Republican, or Coke vs. Pepsi. Nobody is listening, everyone’s just waiting for their turn to speak.

So why bother?

Five stories to start your day



  1. The A to Z of Alphabet, the company that now owns Google

    In the announcement blog post and subsequent SEC filing, we have a somewhat vague idea what companies will be housed under the Alphabet umbrella. (There's also a new placeholder site, abc.xyz — alphabet.com is owned by someone else.) Not every letter has a company (yet), nor do we know where all of Google / Alphabet's pieces will fall (e.g. Google Auto). So without further ado, here are the companies that make up Alphabet's, erm, alphabet:

  2. This is how Force Touch might work on the next iPhone

    Apple is widely expected to bring Force Touch to the next iPhone, and now we're getting some idea of how it might work. According to 9to5Mac, Force Touch will be used as a way to access shortcuts, pull up menus, and activate new functions. If that sounds kind of confusing, well, it is — for now, at least. It sounds like Force Touch on the iPhone will do different things depending on where you use it, and you'll probably have to play around to find out where it works and what it does.

  3. OnePlus 2 shipments delayed until late August for US customers

    OnePlus has announced a shipping delay of two to three weeks for customers buying the new OnePlus 2 in America and Canada. The smartphone is still available to purchase (starting today) for those with an invitation, but North American customers shouldn't expect to receive their handsets until late August, OnePlus told The Verge. The OnePlus 2 was originally expected to ship to US and Canadian customers one week after Europe, but the company says changes to the phones's "production schedules" mean it'll now go out two to three weeks later instead.

  4. Lana Del Rey spoke to Elon Musk and it was one of the best days of her life

    Del Rey: "What Elon Musk is doing with SpaceX, things like that. Just seeing where we’re going, because technologically, we’re advancing so quickly, I don’t want to miss any of it. I feel like we’re on the cusp just the way they were in the ‘60s, but in a different way."

  5. Columbia House, the Spotify of the '80s, is dead

    There was a time in the not-too-distant past where you couldn't just open Spotify, your favorite torrent client, or iTunes and get hold of a song you wanted to hear. No, you had to obtain actual physical goods that they sold in things called stores. That is, of course, unless you were a member of the Columbia House music club.

Denier of the day