This post is a response to this video shared by a friend on Facebook. I watched this video and decided to not let it pass unaddressed.


As I see it, this video makes one main point (the human mind is predisposed to disbelieve pro-climate change science) with three parts:
1. The mind cares more about immediate threats rather than long-term threats.
2. The mind ceases to pay attention to what is endlessly repeated.
3. The mind prefers to maintain “frames” of what information to keep in versus what to keep out, especially under self-inflicted social conformity.
I see no problem with the three points above. Those are realities of the way the human mind works.
EXAMPLES of these mind characteristics at work in real life:
For reason #1: 2 Kings 20:19: When Isaiah prophesied that the entire nation would be plundered because of the king’s foolish decision, Hezekiah the king said that the word was good because at least there would be peace in his lifetime, even if not for everyone else.
For reason # 2: 2 Chronicles 36:15-16: “The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.”
For reason #3: Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (We inherently start life conformed in our thinking to the dominant cultural predispositions around us.)
The denotative conclusion of the video is that science has an explanation for why some people don’t believe some science. Some people haven’t overcome tendencies 1, 2, and 3, and that is the primary reason why they don’t believe pro-climate change science.
The video does a good job of not denying, but describing, the humanity of the other side (unlike some media), but it is still a terrible oversimplification of the whole matter that strongly hints the other side is dumb, not using their rational brains enough, and so on.
For this video’s main point to be true (i.e., not only factually true, but a reasonable account of reality that people can lean on – because true facts can be used to support mutually opposed conclusions), then it means that the majority of pro-climate change science supporters are people who have overcome these three human tendencies.
Listen to that statement again, and ask yourself if it is actually true: “People who believe science that says anthropogenic (primarily human-induced) climate change is a real threat to the environment and future generations are more likely than people who don’t to: 1) have overcome our universal tendency to care more about the present than the future, 2) have overcome our universal tendency to cease vigilance when a warning is repeated, and 3) have overcome our universal tendency to maintain a frame of what we believe because of self-enforced societal pressure (or they remain in their frames, but these frames are better ones more congruent with reality).”
That statement in bold above is hogwash, and if someone doesn’t know it, he or she ought to know it. Are believers in anthropogenic climate change (I’m going to abbreviate it ACC because I’m tired of spelling out the whole thing) more disciplined than non-believers to care about long-term threats over present comforts? It’s factually true that by and large, such people are also the same people who are more likely to support abortion on demand, cohabitation over lifelong covenantal commitment, requiring the government to give other people’s money rather than donating their own, and other similar positions of false compassion belying a philosophy of situational ethics. Objective ethics, on the other hand, sometimes compel compliance at present personal cost. It is a verifiable, visible-to-all phenomenon that generally the same people who do not believe ACC are the same people who demonstrate greater awareness of the long-term effects of their present actions in their own lives than people who believe ACC.
There must be another explanation at work why people don’t believe in ACC.
Are believers in ACC more disciplined than non-believers to maintain alertness despite the repetition of a valid warning? Where do we see evidence of that discipline? This characteristic is much difficult to measure because believers and non-believers in ACC live in such different worlds of news and cultural sources. The examples of repeated warning given in the video may not have been heard by many people. But ask yourself if one side is more disciplined than the other in this aspect, and I think you’ll see that idea is hogwash.
There must be another explanation at work why people don’t believe in ACC.
Are believers in ACC more disciplined than non-believers to overcome the social pressure to think a certain way? One side has the entirety of the government, corporate, educational, and entertainment elite speaking in support of their position, and the other side does not. Please ask yourself which side is demonstrating a greater capacity to not conform to the surrounding thinking?
A fair response is to say, actually, Jared, the video’s assertion is about willingness to leave one’s tribe in order to believe something that is true. Jared, you need to consider 1) those who believe in anthropogenic climate change simply participate in a more elite, educated, global tribe than the more localized tribes unbelievers are willing to leave, and 2) there are many demonstrated cases of members of tribes opposed to ACC coming out and supporting it, such as Christians coming out publicly and saying this science is true, and we need to petition government to do something about it (here’s a Christian friend of mine who did just that here).
The second argument is stronger than the first, and the nature of the first requires a large rabbit hole to unpack. To say that there are many people who bravely leave the social pressures of family and friends to advocate for an ACC position they believe in DOES demonstrate that they have overcome this characteristic #3 of the mind that the video presented. That behavior is to be commended. That same behavior is to be commended also when people surrounded by pro-ACC believers publicly advocate for the position they found to be true. They are also demonstrating a capacity to overcome this characteristic #3 related to social conformity. Their actions are to be commended. Especially to be commended are the many, many anti-ACC scientists who put their careers (finances and passion) on the line (and not just social pressure) to publish their findings and proclaim the most logical conclusions that ACC is hogwash. To assert, however, that one of the key reasons people don’t believe in ACC is because they are unwilling to overcome social pressure to believe what people they respect don’t believe is silly. We can tell stories at each other all day about people who have overcome this characteristic #3(because many people do on both sides; that’s great), but to deny that no one or very few people in the anti-ACC camp have overcome this tendency of the mind is to live in a very hard bubble of one’s own making, which is the very definition of the frame analogy this video presented. Again, the entire elite cultural environment is predisposed toward pro-ACC, so if one side has more individuals trapped within their tribes’ frame, it’s more likely to be a characteristic of ACC proponents.
There must be another explanation at work why people don’t believe in ACC.
So what is the real reason some people not believe in anthropogenic climate change (ACC)? Here are some options not presented by this video:
One answer is because the evidence of hard science points to an anti-ACC position. Some people don’t believe in ACC because the hard science, facts, etc. demonstrate objectively and verifiably that the conclusions of ACC are false or that currently no one truly knows with certainty. Some people (including much more than 3% of scientists employed as scientists) don’t believe in ACC because of facts. The discussion of the hard science on climate change is a LONG discussion for another time.
Another answer is that some people might actually believe the pro-ACC science, but they disagree with the government and economic proposals to solve it. They correctly point out that the media handlers and self-appointed spokespeople for “the scientific community” are too quick to advocate for government and economic actions that don’t actually achieve the environmental outcomes they say they want, while ignoring simpler environmental actions we can take now and complete locally without the world’s help with greater effect on carbon output (ending ethanol subsidies in the US, for example. When was the last time you’ve heard an ACC believer advocating that carbon-reduction measure?). The main proposals on the table to avoid global warming require the approval and decades-long execution of almost every government on Earth (an achievement that has never succeeded in history). An example of that effort is the Paris Climate Accords, which require the approval of the entire world community for not just a moment, but for several decades, to work. Some unbelievers in ACC don’t think efforts like the Paris Climate Accords are the right approach based on their knowledge of how economics, government, and human nature work. Still, others have read the actual text of the Paris Climate Accords and saw that even if it were fully implemented, it would not reduce carbon output in any meaningful way (try reading it yourself). Smart people who have actually read that text see that it is more of a wealth transfer document among countries (from the US to other nations) than an environmental stewardship document. Remember, it’s okay to be smart.
The third and final answer I’ll propose here (because I have other work to do) is that some people don’t believe in ACC because they here pro-ACC arguments coming from sources that have lied to them before. It’s really that simple, and I think that’s the explanation for most of why people don’t believe in ACC. It’s not because they’ve studied the science (most don’t take the time), and it’s not as often because they have a reality-based view of how large societal systems work (economics, government, etc.). It’s because they hear PBS, NPR, “mainstream” news, Democrats, liberal theologians, etc. espousing pro-climate change science, so they tune it out. These same voices have lied to them before about simpler, more tangible, more demonstrable events, so why should I trust them now with future gloomy scenarios. What good REASON should I trust these voices now?
That paragraph above is the main reason why some people don’t believe in pro-climate change science. It’s simple human psychology to not want to be fooled twice.
The 3 main reasons given in the video why human psychology prevents people from believing in ACC are at work, but combined they are a minor factor (say, 10% of the reason why). Look at the converse by looking at people who do believe in anthropogenic climate change: they believe not because they’ve overcome these psychological hurdles more than non-believers (a laughable hypothesis), but they believe ACC because of the three reasons I’ve proposed: 1) They hear the scientific evidence for ACC more than the scientific evidence against and agree with it, 2) they don’t know or don’t care how the real world works so they agree with the “experts'” ideas for combating climate change that wouldn’t cool a cucumber, and 3) they trust the voices telling them that ACC is real.
That’s all it comes down to, folks. The three reasons in the video are valid, but they matter nothing in the real world why people believe or don’t believe in ACC as much as the first three reasons that popped into my head, presented here.
I personally don’t believe ACC for the three reasons given here and probably several other categories of reasons I could come up with if I made an effort. The fact that this video insinuates I must not believe in ACC because I’m not thinking beyond my brain’s “evolutionary” limitations is ridiculous and insulting. I believe this video is a self-congratulatory, intra-tribal presentation making ACC proponents feel better why people they care about don’t believe or don’t act in a logical way to the facts the way this tribe sees them. I know, every tribe needs to have some reasons why others won’t join their tribe. My answer is that this video is hogwash and deserves to be scrapped. There are other, much more valid explanations at work here. And I’m a little bothered my tax dollars paid in part for this video.