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posted by janrinok on Wednesday June 22, @01:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the if-you-change-your-mind-I'm-the-first-in-line dept.

Science reporting on climate change does lead Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs and support government action on the issue—but these gains are fragile, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that these accurate beliefs fade quickly and can erode when people are exposed to coverage skeptical of climate change.

"It is not the case that the American public does not respond to scientifically informed reporting when they are exposed to it," said Thomas Wood, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

"But even factually accurate science reporting recedes from people's frame of reference very quickly."

"Not only did science reporting change people's factual understanding, it also moved their political preferences," he said. "It made them think that climate change was a pressing government concern that government should do more about."

[...] Overall, the results suggest that the media play a key role in Americans' beliefs and attitudes about scientific issues like climate change.

"It was striking to us how amenable the subjects in our study were to what they read about climate change in our study. But what they learned faded very quickly," Wood said. The results of the study conflict with the media imperative to only report on what is new.

More information: Time and skeptical opinion content erode the effects of science coverage on climate beliefs and attitudes, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2122069119.

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  • (Score: 2) by gznork26 on Wednesday June 22, @03:35PM (1 child)

    by gznork26 (1159) on Wednesday June 22, @03:35PM (#1255378) Homepage Journal

    I wonder how this shakes out if you filter for what sort of background the respondents bring to the table. In the extreme, that would isolate those whose education included more than the required minimum exposure to science, and those that didn't. My thought here was whether the stickiness of the change was affected by whether there was a mental structure on which to hang it. In other words, unless the new info could be attached to a body of knowledge, it wouldn't have much staying power. This works both ways, of course, so a new conspiracy theory would be sticky if it was in some way consistent with those the person already subscribed to.

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  • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Wednesday June 22, @04:00PM

    by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {}> on Wednesday June 22, @04:00PM (#1255386) Homepage
    It's probably quite non-linear. There will be those who cannot understand any argument that would change their worldview, and there will be those who were smart enough to have arrived at sensible long-termist views early on. Neither of those parties will move much. The middle-ground who are amenable to well-grounded persuasion that moves them from an ill-founded view are probably in a minority.
    Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves