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Gender: Male
Home country: USA
Current location: Augusta, GA
Member since: Tue Oct 16, 2007, 04:47 AM
Number of posts: 11,689

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I'd take a different tack

Leaving the importance of science to the next to last paragraph is where I differ with you. That should be the first argument out of the box. Climate deniers are in the same boat with creationists and anti-abortionists -- they let belief do their thinking for them.

But trying to pry loose the hold of belief is a difficult task. You can't do it with a flood of facts, because the believer hangs on even more desperately as the sea of facts threaten to inundate them. You have to do it little by little, getting them to agree that science is what is making their life better, not their belief system (usually based on religion). Agricultural science is what makes a bounteous harvest possible, better varieties and more scientific knowledge of how food crops grow, not prayers or sacrifices to the rain gods.

Climate deniers are science deniers, usually because they don't understand science and don't know how science has made their lives better. The Renaissance and the Age of Reason have passed them by, and although they use all the advances of science that modern life offers them, they have no clue how those advances came about. They compartmentalize science into fortunate discoveries (like the telephone) that must have come about because God must have decided to sprinkle some progress on humanity. In their mind, prayer and supplication are what progress depends on, not observation, analysis, theory, and experiment.

I never attack people's beliefs directly. All I can do is point them to some part of science that is important in their life, something that already has a foothold in their personal belief system. The more I ask them to observe and analyze, the larger science grows in importance to them. Soon they find that science in contradiction to their belief system and it's time to make a choice. Usually what they do is fence off a larger area for science, still leaving their received wisdom belief system in charge of the area outside the fence.

A practical example are the oil drillers in Texas and Oklahoma. There are many Baptist petroleum engineers there, people who look at geologic formations during the week to decide where the oil is, and on Sunday nod in agreement to the creationist sermon they hear. It takes a might strong fence to be a successful oil worker AND an upstanding member of the local church. If they had to make a choice between the two, they would probably go with their social group (emotion) than with what puts money in their wallet (intellect).

I don't think it makes any headway to call them mean, or to describe the world awaiting their grandchildren, or even to point out who is making a killing off their foolishness. You only make headway when you can get them to take their nose out of their Bible, their eyes off of FOX News, and their ears away from talk radio, and you get them to observe and analyze the world. What about the weather that we are experiencing? Is it part of a trend? What do they notice? Who are they going to believe, the latest set of talking points they heard, or their lying eyes?
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