Source: Climate One Podcast, Climate Cognition: What We think about when we try not to think about Climate change. Recorded May 12, 2015.
During this panel discussion, Climate One Host Greg Dalton asked George Lakoff: “Why don’t facts move people more (on climate change)?”
Lakoff responded: “(It’s) a very simple thing that if you have a certain worldview and conservatives have one worldview and progressives have a very different one. If you have a certain worldview that doesn’t allow you to see the facts, then you won’t see them.
And the reason is very simple. In general, when you perceive something, something comes into you eyes, you have about a tenth of a second before it becomes conscious. And it will change in that tenth of a second to fit to what you already know or believe. It will change fast and it changes either in flashes of light will change. Things you touch will change. All of those things will change and ideas will change.
So, when you have facts that come in that won’t fit into the way you understand the world, then the way you understand the world is not going to change. The facts will either be ignored, ridiculed or attacked because it will threaten the way you understand the world or not threaten them. People will either be happy the way they understand the world and ignore the facts.
But the frames that frame the facts are part of your brain. They are physical. All ideas are physical in your brain. When they come in, you brain is not going to change.
So you have lots of people in this country who have conservative worldviews and they just don’t see it. It’s not like they are denying it. It’s not like ‘oh, I know that fact and I am just going to deny it.’ It’s like it’s not even a fact.”
Lakoff seems to be saying that some people have a blind spot with their worldview that prevents them from accepting climate change. Just giving them facts about climate change will not convince them. Therefore, it is more important to find common ground with them, become likable and trustworthy with them, and find people who share their worldview, before we can begin to start shifting their thinking on climate change.
Image Source: From the humorous YouTube video, Horse Blinders For Men, about binders for men to keep them from staring inappropriately at women.