Posted by: ericgrimsrud | August 9, 2013

FOX’s Grip on Old Minds

A recent study   (http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/about_us/meet_us/max_boykoff/readings/hmielowski_2013.pdf) surveyed a nationally representative sample of over 1,000 Americans about their media consumption and beliefs about climate change. As I would have suspected from my own observations, the results of this study indicated that conservative media consumption (specifically Fox News and Rush Limbaugh) decreases viewer trust in scientists, which in turn decreases belief that global warming is happening.  In contrast, consumption of non-conservative media (specifically ABCCBS,NBCMSNBCCNNNPR, The New York Times, and The Washington Post) increases consumer trust in scientists, and in turn belief that global warming is happening.

The study concluded that the conservative media creates distrust in scientists through five main methods:

1) Presenting contrarian scientists as “objective” experts (even though they have no record of professional accomplishments in the areas of climate science) while presenting mainstream scientists (who invariably do have such records of professional accomplishment) as being self-interested or biased.

2) Denigrating scientific institutions and peer-reviewed journals.

3) Equating peer-reviewed research with a politically liberal opinion.

4) Accusing climate scientists of manipulating data to fund research projects.

5) Characterizing climate science as a religion.

Fox News engages in all five of these tactics.  For example – contrarian meteorologist Joe Bastardi, a frequent climate misinformation guest on Fox News, recently claimed that CO2 cannot cause warming because it doesn’t “mix well in the atmosphere” – while we have known for many decades that CO2 is, in fact, very well-mixed throughout our atmosphere.

With conservatives tending to get their scientific misinformation from conservative media sources, this is increasing the political polarization on the subject of climate change. However, with the real-world effects of climate change constantly becoming more difficult to deny, this is not a sustainable situation. Eventually reality must break in, and there are signs that this is beginning to happen at least among  an increasing number of young conservatives who are demanding that the Republican Party stop denying the problem and begin participating in the solutions. This study found that younger American voters under the age of 35 – including 53% of young Republicans – now associate the denial of global warming with words like “ignorant,” “out-of-touch” or “crazy” .

Nevertheless, from my own vantage point of a near 70-year-old, it seems to me that most of my “more mature” conservative friends are still all avid FOX News watchers and take pride in ignoring the rest (usually referred to by them as being “the mainstream liberal media”). Not surprisingly, on the subject of climate science almost all of these folks distrust the huge majority (97%) of American scientists (including me) who  provide them with the message on climate change they would prefer not to hear.

All of which leaves me asking myself:  why do my older and otherwise intelligent conservative friends proudly appear to be scientifically stupid and illiterate when it comes to this vitally important subject?  Do they really think that the obese, childless millionaire, Rush LImbaugh, either knows anything at all about the science of climate change or that he even cares about the welfare of future generations?  Or is it primarily that my elderly conservative friends cannot bear to acknowledge that the carbon-driven good life they have enjoyed and are still enjoying is causing the severe degradation of the planet they will be leaving to their grandchildren. If their reason is the latter, then I can understand why their consciences might possibly be soothed by the FOXy fat man or anyone else who casts doubt concerning the messengers of distinctly bad and worsening scientific news.

Whatever the reason for my generation’s obtuseness, just waiting for us all to die off is not going to provide an acceptable solution – even for the long term.  With CO2 levels still rising exponentially every year, only the actions we can manage to take right now – before irreversible run-away effects kick in – are likely to do any good.  So perhaps we should all try to help out a bit more than we do or, at the very least, try not to obstruct the efforts of those who are trying to find solutions.  For starters, the establishment of a carbon tax would seem to be an absolute necessity.

(If any of my elderly friends out there need help in understanding any portion of what I have said here, I will be happy to respond to any comments you might like to post).


Responses

  1. Eric; I assume that you do not believe Al Gore is “being self-interested or biased” when he sold his communication company to the oil rich Arabians. Al Gore studied law at Vanderbilt Law School and for sure didn’t finish his divinity training there either. The head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, is an economist & Eric could also wonder at why RK Pachauri is still a director of Glori Oil.
    “It is well known that many, if not most, of its members are not scientists at all, 80 percent of the IPCC membership has absolutely no dealing with the climate as part of their academic studies.” Another interesting point regarding this scam is why it has become a left-right issue. What ever happened to the days gone by when science was apolitical and stood on the merits of the research and that meant that the debate was never over. This is one of the key components of the scientific process that, at one time before Al Gore became involved, challenges were welcomed to tests the hypotheses “A tentative explanation for an observation, phenomenon, or scientific problem that can be tested by further investigation.”

    Steve Running is mentioned several times and makes comments on this issue and his is the education that Steve Running used to gain his share of the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore and then they criticize some one like Dr. John Christy because he shows how flawed their contentions are. This may be a shock to some that worship at this cathedral of their religion, global warming, but Al Gore has no scientific credentials and Steve Running, who holds a “B.S. in Botany; Oregon State University, Corvallis, 1972, M.S. in Forest Management; Oregon State University, Corvallis, 1973 and a Ph.D. in Forest Ecophysiology; {what ever that is}, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, 1979.
    “Plant ecophysiology is an experimental science that seeks to describe the physiological mechanisms underlying ecological observations.” At least he has been exposed to science but is a long ways from being a climatologist, but then again, how much difference do credentials make when the head of the IPCC is an economist?

    Then we have Dr. John Christy:
    “Ph.D., Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 1987 M.S., Atmospheric Sciences, , University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, 1984; B.A., Mathematics, California State University, Fresno, 1969” and also

    “Richard Siegmund Lindzen who is a Harvard-trained atmospheric physicist and Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Lindzen is known for his work in the dynamics of the middle atmosphere, atmospheric tides and ozone photochemistry. He has published more than 200 books and scientific papers. He has been a critic of some anthropogenic global warming theories and the alleged political pressures on climate scientists” I tend to listen to Dr. Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen before paying much attention to Gore or Running.

    [RESPONSE FROM EPG: John, Cherry picking the opinions individual scientists does not change the FACT that more than 97% of those professional scientists who are actually doing research on the subject of climate believe that AGW is occurring and that it should be addressed ASAP. In addition, neither Dr. Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen has published anything in the peer reviewed literature that shows that AGW is not occurring and that it does not constitute a very serious problem. But go ahead and keep cherry picking the gut feelings of folks (see my post concerning “Feelandia”) if that’s all you’ve got. By that process, you could also build an argument that the Earth is flat and or even that the moon is made of green cheese. Experiments and observations, however, do not support those opinions.

    Theory, ideas, and suggestions might guide, but only experiments decide. Note also that I said experiments (plural) meaning that all of experimental literature must be considered – not just a few experiments that might appear on first consideration to support one’s favorite idea.]

  2. Eric, “When you have ’em by the balls, you don’t let go for a better grip.”
    That was a comment made to me by a varsity football coach. Included on the “winning teams” list (in the U.S.) are fossil-based energy production and distribution, medical/insurance and real estate. There are better grips, from my perspective, but they involve much greater government involvement.
    You are concerned about the tipping point of no return on higher Earth temps. I’m with you on this. But here are others who monitor the tipping point from free-enterprise into socialism. They are labeled “conservative”. They aren’t really anti-science. Great weath isn’t generated by stupid people. Consider “denying” to be a weapon. This battle is complex. Life seems more peaceful in Norway (former home of us Grimsruds) — a socialist democracy — but that isn’t America — at least not yet.

    [ Response from EPG: Dave, Interesting advice, but don’t think it applies here. The only reason we are failing (miserably) to address AGW today is that we don’t, in fact, have a good grip on the controlling forces of our society. Any weak grip we possibly do have is not worth saving – it is not working. Since action must be taken today (if not yesterday), any and all grips must be applied. I understand that patience is usually a virtue, but not in this case.

    Later: 8/1 : Dave, It has not been made clear to me that your comments concerning “letting go of a grip” were not intended to be advice to me for my position – but rather were an attempt to explain the strategy of AGW deniers. OK, so I will reread your comment and “nevermind” my first response to it.]

  3. (If any of my elderly friends out there need help in understanding any portion of what I have said here, I will be happy to respond to any comments you might like to post). It will be interesting to see if Eric fulfills his promise.

    Eric; It appears that the background for your “FOX’s Grip on Old Minds” observations are based on a study done that involved 1,000 people and from that random sample you are basing the assumptions for the observations, or I should say, for an opportunity to express your biased views. Below are the number of folks that watched these respective channels on Aug. 8:
    Live + Same Day Cable News Daily Ratings for Thursday, August 8, 2013
    Primetime (8-11PM/ET)
    FNC: 1,644,000 in P2+ (216,000 in 25-54)
    MSNBC: 533,000 in P2+ (131,000 in 25-54)
    CNN: 392,000 in P2+ (76,000 in 25-54)

    It appears from this survey that Fox was watched by 719,000 more folks than the combined total of folks that watched MSNBC & CNN and I must ask you what your take is regarding that FACT.

    Eric, it appears that anytime someone demonstrates that your FACTS are incorrect, then they are accused of cherry picking. It is up to you to demonstrate that neither Dr. Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen have published nothing that is peer reviewed because I know that to be a false statement at best. Dr. Christy recently published this paper.

    “CHANGES IN SNOWFALL IN THE SOUTHERN SIERRA NEVADA OF CALIFORNIA SINCE 1916” where the conclusion was
    “The results of both the annual and spring snowfall time series indicate no remarkable changes for the 1916–2009 period in the basins drained by the Merced, San Joaquin, Kings and Kaweah Rivers”

    “ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    This research was supported by NOAA (NA07OAR4170503) and benefited from
    runoff datasets acquired with the considerable help of Michael Anderson, California
    State Climatologist.”

    The First Amendment of the Constitutions says:
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    It appears that the general tone of your piece is that you and others with your believes feel that anyone not sharing those believes should not be able to have a venue to express them.

    [RESPONSE FROM EPG: So John, you claim that I said “Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen have published nothing that is peer reviewed” Shame on you. We both know that these productive scientists have published many peer reviewed papers, so why would you say such a silly thing?

    And you say “you and others with your beliefs feel that anyone not sharing those beliefs should not be able to have a venue to express them”. I have never said that. But if you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, by all means do feel fee to leave – but without claiming that you were forced out.

    Concerning your point that a population of 1000 does not constitute a representative sample, I’m not sure and will leave that statistical point to the professionals – who supposedly did review the paper. ]

  4. Eric: What is the problem here; do you need to change your glasses or try to expand your reading comprehension skills? This is what you said: “In addition, neither Dr. Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen has published anything in the peer reviewed literature that shows that AGW is not occurring and that it does not constitute a very serious problem.”

    “So John, you claim that I said “Christy, Dr Spencer and Dr. Lindzen have published nothing that is peer reviewed” Shame on you. We both know that these productive scientists have published many peer reviewed papers, so why would you say such a silly thing?” I have shown you why I said such a thing and the papers that these three scientist have published do not demonstrate that there is a serious problem cause by human emissions of CO2, and if you can’t understand that, then you will not understand why no one frequents your biased and out of touch site. Everyone who studies this issue of the climate and its changes during the past, such as the world wide RWP, MWP and the LIA, knows that the present warming is consistent with coming out of the Little Ice Age and is driven by solar cycles and that CO2 has not one thing to do with it.

    You take excepting to me saying: “you and others with your believes feel that anyone not sharing those believes should not be able to have a venue to express them”

    “The only reason we are failing (miserably) to address AGW today is that we don’t, in fact, have a good grip on the controlling forces of our society. Any weak grip we possibly do have is not worth saving – it is not working. Since action must be taken today (if not yesterday), any and all grips must be applied. I understand that patience is usually a virtue, but not in this case.” What are the “controlling forces” that you referred to in your reply to David?

    I will post a few more opinions to you and you can dispute them as you like and I must admit that I am surprised that you are not performing as usual with submissions and that is to redact them so as not to even be recognizable or not even acknowledge. Perhaps you have learned the wisdom of Karl Popper’s observation: “The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement” — Karl Popper


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: