Changing The Climate

While listening to Point of Inquiry, I heard Dan Kahan speaking about scientific climate change content/information and how it may (or may not) be received by an individual:

People are receiving information about science along two channels. One is the content, so obviously you want to convey correct content and you want to make it accessible to ordinary people, but the other is a kind of cultural significance (or meaning) channel. If the information conveyed along that [cultural] channel is hostile to people’s cultural commitments, then they are going to close their mind to it; they are going to resist it…giving people more information, they can actually become more polarized.

But that second channel is amenable to some adjustment. So if you can combine the content you want with the meaning that is congenial to the group that otherwise is acting defensively, then you should be able to offset.

I was reminded of a handful of patients over the last 8 months who I had unsuccessfully tried to teach about pain science, and had already realized that the older they were and the more time and money that they had spent on their pain, the less likely they seemed to be a “believer” in the science that I presented them. Some aggressively rejected my assertions. I had already come to the conclusion that I needed avoid directly confronting their long-held beliefs with my content, but I was making an error


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