Fast Company

How To Turn Climate Skeptics Into Believers: Argue With Them On Warm Days

When it's cold in summer, climate change nonbelievers ask where the global warming is. When it's hot in winter, climate change activists tell people to step outside and see the changes we have wrought on the environment. And while these are both incredibly wrong-headed arguments with no basis in modern science, it turns out they're smart techniques: A study in the journal Psychological Science has found that people's opinions on climate change vary with their perception of the current temperature.

That's right. If you ask someone if they believe in climate change and they feel as though it's hotter outside than normal, they're more inclined to agree. If they feel it's colder, however, they're happy to deny anything is changing about the weather. 

Scientists asked respondents who were getting paid $8 to take a survey whether they would like to give some of that money to climate change advocacy group Clean Air-Cool Planet. If they were feeling colder than normal, they weren't interested. While political affiliation remains the easiest way to determine what a person thinks about climate change, the researchers found this effect to be almost as close--two-thirds as accurate at determining opinion.

Climate change is, of course, very much happening, no matter what you think the temperature should be. Yet 36% of people in the U.S. still don't believe in it (and 57% don't think it's man-made). Here's how to get them to change their minds: only argue with them on days when it's unseasonably warm.

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6 Comments

  • ben

    The problem with global warming is that the science behind has been proven to be incorrect, and not only that, but it also ignores the countless cycles of warming and cooling the earth has gone through long before Human came along. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/n... Essentially government funded scientist researching climate change find no proof, or anything significant make stuff up so they can continue to be funded.

  • rollo47

    Interesting post, and it shows how challenging it is to communicate the science. I'm often surprised by the amount of Americans who still doubt man-made climate change though. Here in the UK, along with most other European (and, it seems, Asian) countries, there is clear political as well as scientific consensus. I suspect it's mostly due to the fact that the average American uses twice as much energy as the average European, and - at the moment - most of that energy comes from fossil fuels.

  • Guest

    The fact is, you and all who accept and promote the belief in "climate change" have made a conscious decision to accept only one set of scientific data and conclusions. There are LOTS of scientists and data to dispute the politically-correct theory of climate change, especially man-made climate change. And, don't forget that much of the data put forward by climate change believers has been discredited or found to be based on false assumptions or faulty readings. "Global warming" used to be the buzz word until the data proved warming had stopped several years ago; proponents/believers then conveniently changed the buzz word to "climate change."

  • Tamra

    Great Post! Believer or non-Believer, does it really matter what we think or what science tells us? It's not hard to see that how modern day people are conducting their lives IS a hinderance on the earth and NOT how mother nature intended. If we, in fact, learn by listening... shh - I think someone might be trying to tell use something :)

  • Andrew Krause

    Or, you know, you could always provide facts and evidence instead of using subtle psychological coercion. Of course, if you do that, and they have any kind of rational thinking skills... they won't believe its "very much happenning", nor will they believe that any part of it is caused by human activity.

  • jesse paquette

    i think there's a third level of belief that should be measured besides "do you believe in climate change?" and (if so) "do you believe that climate change is man-made?".

    "do you believe that we have an obligation (on a personal or institutional level) to do something about it?"