Many psychologists are looking at “political ideology” as a predictor of belief in the theory of man-made climate disasters, but I’m convinced it’s the more basic element of personality types that matters more. A new study shows (no surprise) that climate believers are more networked in the Facebook world.
In the press release, the researcher, Juha Itkonen, calls these Facebook connections “friends” as if the terms facebook-friend and friend are interchangeable. Mark Zuckerberg would be happy. Extroverts on Facebook might also agree, but I’d bet the introvert types would not. Sometimes fewer relationships means deeper ones.
Perhaps extroverts are more likely to be group-thinkers, and introverts are more likely to have some inbuilt immunity to mob thought? No doubt it will be reported with the usual shallow semi-narcissistic flare “climate deniers have fewer friends”. So sharpen your pencils, smile, and remind everyone that skeptics have better things to do than spend all day on social media, that Facebook friends are not always real friends, and that having fewer deeper friends would suit people who are deeper thinkers.
Climate change attitudes are reflected on social networks
11 May 2015 Helsingin yliopisto (University of Helsinki)
People who believe in climate change have more Facebook friends than those who do not consider climate change a problem. Juha Itkonen’s dissertation in economics shows that values and social networks are linked to opinions about climate change.
Studies which examine the relationship between carbon emissions and economic growth contain methodological flaws, and consequently underestimate the need for climate policy. Meanwhile, conflicting opinions on climate change remain fixed, as social networks keep advocates and opponents separate.
These are just some of the results of Juha Itkonen’s dissertation, examined on 8 May at the University of Helsinki, which considers the economics of climate change from the perspective of networks as well as climate change as a market failure.
Any thesis which uses namecalling with poorly defined and insulting terms like the imaginary “climate change deniers” (who don’t deny the climate changes) is hardly on the path to higher knowledge.
Climate change deniers have fewer friends
Itkonen was also interested in the reasons why different groups of people have espoused such radically different opinions despite scientific consensus. To answer this question, a Facebook application was created to survey public opinion and network data about the Facebook friends of its participants. More than 5,000 Finnish Facebook users were surveyed.
The respondents had an average of 262 friends, many of whom shared their opinions. Respondents who did not consider climate change a problem had fewer friends. The structures of social networks contribute to the slow speed of changing opinions.
“The opinion about climate change is not born out of facts and reason alone. Values and social networks also have an impact,” Itkonen points out.
Itkonen says messages don’t travel well in a polarized medium:
Differences in opinion slow down the transfer of information. When communicating scientific findings, polarised opinions in the social network reduce the network’s ability to transmit the message.
I say namecalling does not engender useful conversations. Perhaps Itkonen could try using accurate language instead?
This next paragraph followed straight from the last quote but is a non-sequitur. It is not “polarising” to talk about a problem and a solution in the same conversation.
“For example, talking about carbon taxation in conjunction with scientific research may encourage the audience to question the science as well if the social environment has negative views about taxes.”
The communication rules for climate science communicators are becoming too tricky by half, as they deal with selling a bizarre fantasy that windmills can stop the ocean acidifying while solar panels can hold back the tide.
MSocSc Juha Itkonen defended his doctoral dissertation Essays on the economics of climate change and networks last week at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki. The dissertation is in the field of economics.
For what it’s worth, I’m an extrovert type to the end, which is probably why I once thought the Greens were a party that cared about the environment. The good news is that there is something more important than personality type, and that’s evidence. If the hot spot is missing, the models are broken, and the experts don’t know the cause of the pause — even extraverts can figure out what that means.
A more important predictor of belief versus skepticism is logic. Some people are rational, and some (bless them) count their friends on Facebook.
To the other extrovert types who are skeptics I say: we need you. Spread the word!
Peer pressure and peer-pal review,
Shapes much of the warmist world-view,
Then in groups it’s assumed,
That the climate is doomed,
Which skeptics know well is untrue.