“…he respectfully treated each question as a genuine search for knowledge.”
I think that is the best way to get people to accept the science. It is easy for us who are deeply entrenched in the on-line climate debate to forget how a newcomer perceives the issues. Take the example of Matthew L. at Realclimate’s excellent post on communicating science: My impression is of someone trying to make sense of the daily news stories by browsing the internet, without having a strong opinion about climate change one way or the other. I think he exemplifies the kind of person we need to –and can- convince of the strength of the scientific evidence. We should be thinking carefully about how to best do so. An interesting conversation ensued between Matthew and others, myself included.
I think the tone of the response is important. Even if he were just repeating claims picked up from some anti-scientific website, what would do more good for him and for the numerous people reading (but not participating in) the comments: A sarcastic reply calling him out on his ‘denialist’ talking points or a patient explaining of the issues? And what if he indeed were sincere in his concerns and (perhaps misguided) questions?
When dealing with the hard-line Morano’s of this world, it may be different. But otherwise, a calm and collected attitude is important. And even with the likes of Morano, it is not clearcut that abusive language is the way to go. Keith Kloor writes:
That’s what we should avoid. Perhaps being nice is a better strategy. For Joe Public, it matters a helluva lot who is the nicest guy. They don’t know who is right or who is wrong. Many of them decide based on their gut feeling.
This quote from Matthew is another example of what should be avoided:
“Sad to say JP (a climate activist) did not acquit himself well. He got progressively angrier and ended up shouting, and was even forced to back-track at one point. In contrast the denialist remained very level headed. Anybody listening to the interview and not familiar with either person, or the positions they represented, would have scored a definite win for the denialist camp.”
Tags: science communication