Chris Mooney writes: As two top researchers studying the science of science communication – a hot new field that combines public opinion research with psychological studies — Dan Kahan and Stephan Lewandowsky tend to agree about most things.
There’s just one problem. The little thing that they disagree on — whether it actually works to tell people that there’s a “scientific consensus” on climate change — is a matter of huge practical significance. After all, many scientists, advocates, and bloggers are doing this all the time. Heck, Barack Obama and Al Gore are out there doing it. And the central message that the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sought to convey with its latest report, that scientists are now 95-percent certain that humans are driving global warming, is a message about scientific consensus.
In this episode of Inquiring Minds (click below to stream audio), Kahan and Lewandowsky debate this pressing issue. The discussion begins with a paper published in Nature Climate Change last year by Lewandowsky and two colleagues, providing experimental evidence suggesting a consensus message ought to work quite well.