Apocalypse Soon? Dire Messages Reduce Belief in Global Warming by Contradicting Just World Beliefs

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Sharon Ede

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Nov 15, 2010, 11:40:04 PM11/15/10
to Steady Staters
FYI - from UC Berkeley Psych
 
 
Though scientific evidence for the existence of global warming continues to mount, in the
U.S. and other countries belief in global warming has stagnated or even decreased in
recent years. One possible explanation for this pattern is that information about the
potentially dire consequences of global warming threatens deeply held beliefs that the
world is just, orderly, and stable.
Individuals overcome this threat by denying or
discounting the existence of global warming, ultimately resulting in decreased
willingness to counteract climate change. Two experiments provide support for this
explanation of the dynamics of belief in global warming, suggesting that less dire
messaging could be more effective for promoting public understanding of climate change
research.


 
 

Sharon Ede

South Australian State Chapter Director

Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy

steadystate.org

postgrowth.org



Keith Akers

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Nov 16, 2010, 10:53:11 PM11/16/10
to SteadyStaters
Very interesting. This study seems to have the implication that
"scary messages" should be avoided when talking about global warming
because they contradict strongly held beliefs that the world is just.
My response would be that the real problem here is not with the "scary
messages" but with the "just world" hypothesis. In other words, to
promote knowledge of global warming, what we should do is attack the
view that we have a "just world." By avoiding scary messages, we
might increase knowledge of climate change but actually decrease
knowledge of the underlying problem, thus making effective solutions
less likely by "normalizing" the climate change hypothesis and making
climate change less scary than it actually is.

There is an element of truth in the study, which the study misses
because they have framed the "just world" hypothesis in a misleading
way. The psychological meaning of the "just world" hypothesis is not
a belief in justice per se, but a belief in the stability and
rationality of our current world order. You would get the same
psychological effect, in a less misleading way, by formulating the
"just world" hypothesis as "our system may have flaws, but eventually
it finds the truth" or "because we live in a democracy, we are
protected against catastrophes" or something like that.

Whether you like this study also depends on whether or not you really
think that we need radical solutions to climate change. (Hint: a
steady state economy is a pretty radical solution.) If you think that
technology and enticements can solve climate change, then the point of
the study is well taken. In that case, the dire message really
doesn't help much. If we really do need a radical solution -- if,
that is, our world is basically not "just" -- then the point of the
study is still well taken, but the conclusion is that we need to
attack the problem at its base, the belief in a "just world," rather
than avoiding the "scary messages."

The study might be repeated by introducing some sentences designed to
attack the "just world" theory, and I'll be the test subjects would
then have a lot more respect for the climate change hypothesis.
Perhaps you could introduce test messages like "politicians seem to be
more and more out of touch with reality," for example. Just a
thought.


bsha...@comcast.net

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Nov 17, 2010, 10:33:50 AM11/17/10
to steady...@googlegroups.com

Interesting response, Kieth.

Frankly, I've never run across this "Just World" position.  So I think it can't be a really big deal.

Steady state is about justice.  We start with an unequivocal message of injustice.

If there really are any significant "Just Worlders" they have obviously not looked up the definition of justice.

Bill

sharo...@hotmail.com

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Nov 17, 2010, 8:15:41 PM11/17/10
to SteadyStaters
I agree with Keith on this:

they have framed the "just world" hypothesis in a misleading
way. The psychological meaning of the "just world" hypothesis is not
a belief in justice per se, but a belief in the stability and
rationality of our current world order. You would get the same
psychological effect, in a less misleading way, by formulating the
"just world" hypothesis as "our system may have flaws, but eventually
it finds the truth" or "because we live in a democracy, we are
protected against catastrophes" or something like that.

It is a conundrum - do we tell the 'scary' truth and run the risk of
people switching off or going into denial? Or do we sugar-coat it and
defuse the pressure for change?

S

o...@riseup.net

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Nov 18, 2010, 3:25:18 AM11/18/10
to steady...@googlegroups.com
This is a admittedly conservative website yet I read it to find out what others are thinking. It seems that others are thinking that growth is over too.

R. Kinslow

Knight Research' Stunning Call: "The Game Is Over"
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/17/2010 15:52 -0500
From Knight Research. Presented without commentary.

The Game Is Over
The simple story is this: We believe the structural and cyclical terms of global trade have finally reached their tipping point. This will catalyze a wholesale change in sentiment and a historic repositioning of risk assets. The emerging market global growth story is over.
       *       In meetings with clients throughout October, we began emphasizing our growing concerns about the nearly ubiquitous confidence the financial markets-and for that matter, global leaders and their body politic-have in China; and by extension, the rest of the emerging market story, commodities, and the direction of foreign exchange cross-rates.
  *       Not surprisingly, our concerns were met with varying degrees of resistance; but the overall consensus clearly favored a very bullish, asymmetric outcome over both the near and intermediate terms. When pressed as to our own sense of timing and specific catalysts  for broad-based trend reversal, candidly we were unclear. Our sense then, was that the higher and faster the commodity markets pushed, the sooner the reversal would occur. But we have now clarified our view.
  *       In just the past several weeks, we believe the data and government actions out of China, the back-up in US interest rates, the Fed's emphatic commitment to QE2, intensifying pressures across the EU, broadly rising commodity prices, government efforts to control hot money flows, have finally pushed the global terms of trade to their tipping point.
    *       And now, as is evident by the flight to safety, and growing evidence that China will soon try and effect price controls in addition to raising interest rates and significantly changing the rules for their vast network of Local Government Funding Vehicles (LGFVs); the writing is on the wall. The game is over.
   *       The simple story is this: The structural and cyclical terms of global trade have reached their tipping point which will effect a wholesale change in sentiment and a historic repositioning of risk assets.
     *       So what do we consider the "terms of global trade"? Structurally, per our top chart, they are the intersection of Government Policy (viz., rule of law, market systems, trade law, etc.,) Resource and Industry (viz., natural resources, labor/demographic pools, industrial advantages, import dependencies, etc.,) and Economic Security (viz., the sovereign's competitive standing, the relative power/needs of the citizenry, the mandate/control of the government, etc.) And cyclically, (as represented by the light blue, bold arrows) the terms of trade are defined by the intersection of foreign exchange rates, commodity prices, and the cost and availability of trade finance.
        *       And in our assessment given:
    1.      The structural breakdown of the credit and labor markets in the developed world and the anemic outlook for nominal GDP growth
   2.      The immaturity of the developing world and their vulnerability to credit shocks and uncontrollable inflation
    3.      China's dependence upon non-economic, and unsustainable credit expansion to maintain growth far beyond natural export and domestic demand, and
  4.      Asia's dependence upon imported energy and agriculture
the game is over. Presently, we believe that the broad-based resurgence of investor confidence in the emerging market and secular bull market in commodities will end badly; proving that the rally which commenced in Q2 2009, was in fact an "echo bubble" facilitated by massive-and unsustainable-stimuli from the Chinese Government
       *       And although such cataclysmic shocks rarely result in rhythmic, straight line fractures, the chain of price adjustments should be  relatively clear. Accordingly, we expect a shockingly powerful rally in the dollar, broadbased weakness across the commodity sector, a dramatic widening of emerging market credit spreads, and what could prove to be a stampede of hot fund flows out of the emerging markets.
        *       We appreciate both the gravity and the brevity of this note; but then again, the story is simple.

We believe that the end of the Great Consumer Credit Cycle and the vast structural differences in the terms of trade between the United States, the EU, and China, have finally caught up with the secular bull thesis on Emerging Market and Commodities. Quite ironically, the Fed's aggressive policies will likely prove to be the catalyst which breaks China's unbridled expansion of credit and non-economic growth, ushering in a wholesale rebalancing of risk assets.

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