Scientific Skepticism Due to Prior Attitudes and Implicit Biases

by Jen Petrova

Why is it that certain people are skeptical about scientific facts and data? Are there any overlying trends that show that certain groups of people are more likely to be skeptical about climate change than others? Kraft, Lodge, and Taber (2015) found that religion is not the only factor that plays into climate change skepticism; political ideology and partisanship affect how people react to scientific facts as well. These authors came to the conclusion that conservatives are more likely than liberals to be scientifically skeptical due to their prior attitudes, affect-driven motivated reasoning, and biased attitude formation. Continue reading

The Effects of Hostile Media Perceptions on Climate Change Activism

by Pedro Ureña

By conducting a nationally representative study using survey data, five professors (Feldman et al, 2015) set out to examine the effects, both direct and indirect, of hostile media perceptions on activism pertaining to mitigating climate change. They found that external political efficacy, or the belief and trust that one’s government is both willing and capable of responding to their demands, is negatively related to hostile media perceptions. Put simply, when people think that their views are unfairly targeted in the media they grow dubious of the media and, consequently, the government and its democracy. Continue reading

Al Gore is Ready to Win the Battle of Climate Change

by Abby Schantz 

In the New York Times article, “The New Optimism,” published on March 16th, 2015, John Schwartz explains a change in action by Al Gore regarding climate change. Gore has a long list of achievements; former vice president of the United Sates, environmental activist, and investor. He is also the recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, including his Academy Award winning film, “An Inconvenient Truth.” These efforts have focused on showing the magnitude of the problem of climate change, instilling concern for the issue around the globe. Recently, however, his viewpoint has transformed to cast a more optimistic light saying, “We’re going to win this.” Gore uses the history of cellphones as an analogy to changing energy sources. In 1980, AT&T estimated that 900,000 cellphones would be sold by 2000. In fact, 109 million were sold by 2000 and, by- today, around 7 billion. Gore says the mis-estimation was due to the rapid increase in technology and decrease in costs, which turned giant blocks (old cellphones) into miniature computers (new cellphones). Continue reading