Report: Skeptic climate petition validated as effective tool in battle against climate alarmism

31,000-skeptic-strong Oregon petition was deemed by warmists to be the most compelling’ message against climate bedwetting.

CT = Persuasive effect of bed climate wetting message
CM = Persuasive effect of Oregon Petition Project
CT|CM = Net effect of hearing both messages

The media release is below. Note highlighted section.

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Psychological ‘vaccine’ could help immunize public against ‘fake news’ on climate change
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE

In medicine, vaccinating against a virus involves exposing a body to a weakened version of the threat, enough to build a tolerance.

Social psychologists believe that a similar logic can be applied to help “inoculate” the public against misinformation, including the damaging influence of ‘fake news’ websites propagating myths about climate change.

A new study compared reactions to a well-known climate change fact with those to a popular misinformation campaign. When presented consecutively, the false material completely cancelled out the accurate statement in people’s minds – opinions ended up back where they started.

Researchers then added a small dose of misinformation to delivery of the climate change fact, by briefly introducing people to distortion tactics used by certain groups. This “inoculation” helped shift and hold opinions closer to the truth – despite the follow-up exposure to ‘fake news’.

The study on US attitudes found the inoculation technique shifted the climate change opinions of Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike.

Published in the journal Global Challenges, the study was conducted by researchers from the universities of Cambridge, UK, Yale and George Mason, US. It is one of the first on ‘inoculation theory’ to try and replicate a ‘real world’ scenario of conflicting information on a highly politicised subject.

“Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and replicating like a virus,” says lead author Dr Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist from the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab.

“We wanted to see if we could find a ‘vaccine’ by pre-emptively exposing people to a small amount of the type of misinformation they might experience. A warning that helps preserve the facts.

“The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible.”

To find the most compelling climate change falsehood currently influencing public opinion, van der Linden and colleagues tested popular statements from corners of the internet on a nationally representative sample of US citizens, with each one rated for familiarity and persuasiveness.

The winner: the assertion that there is no consensus among scientists, apparently supported by the Oregon Global Warming Petition Project. This website claims to hold a petition signed by “over 31,000 American scientists” stating there is no evidence that human CO2 release will cause climate change.

The study also used the accurate statement that “97% of scientists agree on manmade climate change”. Prior work by van der Linden has shown this fact about scientific consensus is an effective ‘gateway’ for public acceptance of climate change.

In a disguised experiment, researchers tested the opposing statements on over 2,000 participants across the US spectrum of age, education, gender and politics using the online platform Amazon Mechanical Turk.

In order to gauge shifts in opinion, each participant was asked to estimate current levels of scientific agreement on climate change throughout the study.

Those shown only the fact about climate change consensus (in pie chart form) reported a large increase in perceived scientific agreement – an average of 20 percentage points. Those shown only misinformation (a screenshot of the Oregon petition website) dropped their belief in a scientific consensus by 9 percentage points.

Some participants were shown the accurate pie chart followed by the erroneous Oregon petition. The researchers were surprised to find the two neutralised each other (a tiny difference of 0.5 percentage points).

“It’s uncomfortable to think that misinformation is so potent in our society,” says van der Linden. “A lot of people’s attitudes toward climate change aren’t very firm. They are aware there is a debate going on, but aren’t necessarily sure what to believe. Conflicting messages can leave them feeling back at square one.”

Alongside the consensus fact, two groups in the study were randomly given ‘vaccines’:

A general inoculation, consisting of a warning that “some politically-motivated groups use misleading tactics to try and convince the public that there is a lot of disagreement among scientists”.
A detailed inoculation that picks apart the Oregon petition specifically. For example, by highlighting some of the signatories are fraudulent, such as Charles Darwin and members of the Spice Girls, and less than 1% of signatories have backgrounds in climate science.
For those ‘inoculated’ with this extra data, the misinformation that followed did not cancel out the accurate message.

The general inoculation saw an average opinion shift of 6.5 percentage points towards acceptance of the climate science consensus, despite exposure to fake news.

When the detailed inoculation was added to the general, it was almost 13 percentage points – two-thirds of the effect seen when participants were just given the consensus fact.

The research team point out that tobacco and fossil fuel companies have used psychological inoculation in the past to sow seeds of doubt, and to undermine scientific consensus in the public consciousness.

They say the latest study demonstrates that such techniques can be partially “reversed” to promote scientific consensus, and work in favour of the public good.

The researchers also analysed the results in terms of political parties. Before inoculation, the fake negated the factual for both Democrats and Independents. For Republicans, the fake actually overrode the facts by 9 percentage points.

However, following inoculation, the positive effects of the accurate information were preserved across all parties to match the average findings (around a third with just general inoculation; two-thirds with detailed).

“We found that inoculation messages were equally effective in shifting the opinions of Republicans, Independents and Democrats in a direction consistent with the conclusions of climate science,” says van der Linden.

“What’s striking is that, on average, we found no backfire effect to inoculation messages among groups predisposed to reject climate science, they didn’t seem to retreat into conspiracy theories.

“There will always be people completely resistant to change, but we tend to find there is room for most people to change their minds, even just a little.”

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8 thoughts on “Report: Skeptic climate petition validated as effective tool in battle against climate alarmism”

  1. It’s amusing to see academics who are clueless on climate, assume that their own colleagues couldn’t possibly be responsible for fake news, when even a quick look into the subject would show they have been.
    They are so utterly deluded that they turn the spectrum of truth versus falsehood on its head.
    But at least its good to see the conclusions I reached in my book remain true: “The Academic Ape: Instinctive aggression and boundary enforcing behaviour in academia”

  2. The study also used the accurate statement that “97% of scientists agree on manmade climate change”

    WTF

    Show us the actual numbers,
    Show us the lists of names,
    Show us the methodology

    97% of all stats are made up, the other 14% are true…probably.

  3. Dr Sander van der Linden is a card carrying liberal who long ago bought into the climate scam. His entire study is guilty of Confirmation Bias in the extreme and his study should be as marginalized as the spurious claim of the 97% consensus claim, which is as bogus a claim as there is! Had he even a modicum of objectivity he would have double checked the accuracy of the 97% claim and found as Roy Spencer and Joseph Bast found when they checked the claim and its history and found the “study” upon which it was based was a bogus as a $3.00 bill/.

    Secondly, (“CLEARLY indicating van der Linden is no scientist”), appeal to a consensus as proof of ANYTHING is a logical fallacy and proves nothing! Even if ALL scientists believed and agreed man is causing global warming, it doesn’t make it true. Only verifying experiments can “indicate” that a Theory be true. To date all “experiments” and gathered data to prove climate change is caused by man’s Co2 emissions have shown the opposite, that man’s Co2 appears to have little to no effect on climate.

    Bye bye so called consensus and bye bye van der Linden’s bogus study…

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/30/the-myth-of-the-97-climate-change-consensus/

  4. The “Oregon petition” website does more than “claim” to hold a petition signed by 31,000 US scientists who dispute the global warming sky-is-falling alarmism, as this study asserts, it actually has that petition with all the CONFIRMED names of the signers.

    When I saw that Yale was involved in this alleged study, as an alumnus I immediately knew what its conclusions would be, for the University is 100% in the man-caused global warming is real and dooms the world camp in its teaching in all applicable courses of study. Science and free speech are both dead at Yale.

  5. So if we let them know that the opposition often publishes fudged numbers (the 97% consensus, for example) that will help us win on the facts?

  6. I read this article ( http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/es501998e ) where I got to actually read all the questions on their 97% survey and how they came up with that number. Kind of interesting–it really looks kind of scientific! However, while their stats may be solid (doubtful) the entire set of the questions and answers are only opinion, not science. Even though I have no scientific credentials, I can recognize opinion vs. fact.

  7. Even before I saw that data was and is falsified, I knew that the scare tactics of Algore were already wrong. The ice caps are still there, I know not all the scientists are outside the climate field, CO2 is only .04% of the atmosphere, where any slight change wouldn’t matter, as that level isn’t enough to affect temps, that woops! we need another greenhouse gas. Methane, and cow farts are to blame! How assanine. How long have they been collecting satellite data? Since 1979. Long time NOT!

    No, I can’t boast of ivy league degrees, but really, why would I need one? It has been repeatedly proven that these weather patterns are repeated, thus with a bit of research are PREDICTABLE!

    Too cold? Global Warming. Too hot? Global Warming. Man-made global warming? Nowhere near enough data to know if man has at all, much less the ridiculous crisis mongering.

    Now how about certain unscrupulous people caught fudging the data? That is that. The alternatives don’t produce enough and don’t last near as long as promised. Claims that it is cheaper to produce, bills for customers are idiculously high. Investors are uptight over our first amendment rights to free speech, I had it with pin-headed phonies and their lies! This is a classic case of follow the money trail. This isn’t science, it’s guesswork. I don’t deny the climate changes, I deny you people yelling global warming are incapable of telling the truth, because too much money is involved. That’s……it!

  8. I have long follow discussions about the causes of global warming and climate change on our planet. I do not do experiments, do not own any equipment for any measurements, analyze certain “statements” and “evidence” about the causes of these phenomena, but I have certain knowledge that some evidence, when the “culprit” for this change. In science today, it is very difficult to accept the truth and what is even worse, if you want to post something useful for mankind, you have to pay for the publication.
    It is unfortunate and inhuman, that there does not exist Institute, Academy or any institution funded by the government, and that the institution publishes something new from the teachings of people who offer free and that it is useful for science and for the people.
    We know that every year in the United States spent an average of two billion dollars on research into the causes of climate change, but so far it is to no avail. And the biggest deception is deliberate propaganda that the cause of this human factor.
    MY PROPOSAL TO RESOLVE TO:
      Define price and a reward for evidence that can be verified mathematically, but I think that experiments have no chance to prove anything.
    Should evaluate what would be the benefit of mankind, when it was known how and when it will come to major climate change or some extraordinary phenomenon.
    If someone found a solution, I think this man deserves an award, a minimum one-year loss of unsuccessful attempts so far to determine the cause of these phenomena.

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