Saturday, October 24, 2009

Environmentalism and Persuasion

Lately I've been thinking far too much about the persuasive skills of environmentalists. I've already discussed my general distaste for Joe Romm's blogging style, though I believe his information is solid. Joe is unhappy with Andy Revkin because his time spent blogging has lowered the quality of his journalism. The list could go on forever; I think any conversation will ultimately end with The Death of Environmentalism (pdf).

One shortcoming of many environmentalists was their unwillingness to claim things as certain. I was just watching Everything's Cool, a 2006 film on the public opinion and global warming, on Thursday and heard scientists talk about how, as scientists, they don't like to claim certainty. I assumed this was a major part of the reason the public could never become enamored with the cause.

Tyler says I'm wrong. According to him, experts are taken more seriously when they hedge their statements. I'm lost - I really don't know what to think about the intersections of science and global opinion any longer.

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Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty