3273854385_0d80c9a5e6As we at the Clog like to remind you on a more or less weekly basis, the world is mos def on its way out the door. Maybe it’s our rampant cynicism talking, but there’s something kind of cathartic about reconciling with inevitable catastrophe. Helps us sleep better at night.

It seems, however, that not everyone shares in this perversion. There are people wandering around out there who still think life is logical and fair. All are menaces to society, we’re sure. Oh, wait a tic — they’re right here at UC Berkeley, participating in a two-part experiment which concluded that delusion definitely abounds.

See, statistics show that about half of Americans believe global warming reports are overblown; and around a fifth of us think said reports are totally full of sh*t. There are abundantly disturbing aspects to this trend, not least of which being the inverse ratio between accumulating scientific evidence and popular acceptance thereof. Basically, the more proof we have, the less everyone is willing to buy it, let alone go about making any kind of lifestyle change.

Faced with this irritating rift between fact and public opinion, UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer and doctoral psychology student Matthew Feinberg subjected 97 undergrads to a study designed to unearth the factors behind such stubborn rejection of reality.

What they discovered was that the problem isn’t the reports in and of themselves, but rather how they are presented. The research gauged participants’ ranking on a “just world scale” (i.e., the extent to which they expect all things to end happily ever after) while simultaneously examining their reactions to global warming data (and subsequent willingness to reduce their carbon footprint) when encountered in one of the two following contexts:

A) Yeah, global warming sucks, but no worries! Turn down that A/C, switch to fluorescent and it’ll be A-OK.
B) Are you kidding? We are all going to die.

The conclusion? People respond better to empowerment than terror. We will admit that this makes sense. But we’re still pretty irked about that “just world scale” and the fact that Berkeley students were scoring anything higher than “life is kind of poop.” Guys, we’re paying to understand what is so very wrong with it all. Your optimism frankly disappoints.

Image Source: tima under Creative Commons
Dire messages about global warming can backfire, new study shows [News Center]

Chad Chillman said:
Nov 16, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Sounds…unchill, bro?

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