The Conversation: Climate “scepticism is rapidly becoming a topic for historians”

According to University of Sunshine Coast academics, it might be possible to persuade skeptics, but “Climate Change is upon us”, so skepticism is fading away anyway.

Inside the mind of a sceptic: the ‘mental gymnastics’ of climate change denial

  • Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of the Sunshine Coast

  • Professor of Geography, School of Law and Society, University of the Sunshine Coast

Published: September 13, 2022 3.32pm AEST

The numbers of climate sceptics are dwindling. But they remain a noisy and at times powerful minority that continues to have political influence. This group is unmoved by the near-universal agreement among scientists on the reality and impact of climate change.

Our latest study of Australian sceptics focused on potentially more malleable factors – including the thought processes of people who reject climate science messaging. Our findings suggest some people reject consensus science and generate other explanations due to mistrust in climate science and uncritical faith in “alternative science”.

So how do we begin to change minds?

In all, our results suggest climate change scepticism may be influenced by:

  • favoured explanations of pseudoscience and/or belief that events happen by chance
  • a belief that the problem is too large, complex and costly for individuals to deal with alone.

Unlike sociodemographic characteristics, these thought processes may more open to targeted public messaging.

In the end, reality bites. Multi-year droughts and successive never-before-seen floods will struggle to fit a sceptic narrative of yet another “one-in-100-year event”. Even the attitudes of Australian farmers, including some of the most entrenched sceptics, are shifting.

Climate change is upon us, and scepticism is rapidly becoming a topic for historians, not futurists.

Read more:

The abstract of the study;

Associations of locus of control, information processing style and anti-reflexivity with climate change scepticism in an Australian sample

Breanna C. Fraser
Rachael Sharman,
and Patrick D. Nunn


A proportion of the Australian public remains sceptical about the reality of climate change, its causes, impacts and the need for mitigatory action. To date, scepticism research largely focuses on factors highly resistant to change, particularly socio-demographic and value factors. This mixed-methods study investigated whether more malleable psychological factors: locus of control; information processing style; and anti-reflexivity, predicted climate change scepticism above and beyond socio-demographic and value factors. A sample of 390 participants (Mean age = 41.31, standard deviation = 18.72; 230 male) completed an electronic survey. Using hierarchical regression, trust in forces of anti-reflexivity and external locus of control predicted impact scepticism. Decreased trust in forces of reflexivity also predicted attribution and impact scepticism. Finally, external locus of control predicted response scepticism. Key qualitative themes identified were, trust in alternative science; mistrust of climate science; belief in natural cycles; predictions not becoming reality; and ulterior motives of interested parties.

Read more:

Anti-reflexivity is defined by one of the referenced studies as “… a collective force defending the industrial capitalist system against claims that the system causes serious problems …” – in other words, people who believe capitalism is working.

Alternative science is less clearly defined, but the authors appear to use alternative science, distrust in climate science and pseudoscience interchangeably in their Conversation article, so I think we get the idea.

There has been a recent uptick of climate concern in Australia – but there is no evidence this is anything other than one of our regular cyclical shifts. Australia appears to a similar pattern to other Western nations – a rise in climate concern, the election of a left wing government, economically damaging green policies like carbon pricing, a recession, and finally a return to the starting point, as economic hardship refocuses voters’ attention on real problems.

Frankly in my opinion this conversation article is a very poor effort. I was expecting to see some revelation, an attempt to say something new. Instead the authors of this drivel appear to be repeating the same tired anti-capitalist prejudice we see time after time from Australian academia, combined with an intolerance for deviation from the author’s favoured narratives, all thinly dressed up with a few jargon terms.

via Watts Up With That?

September 14, 2022 at 12:48AM

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