Sharon Begley writes on Newsweek:
It’s a safe bet that the millions of Americans who have recently changed their minds about global warming — deciding it isn’t happening, or isn’t due to human activities such as burning coal and oil, or isn’t a serious threat — didn’t just spend an intense few days poring over climate-change studies and decide, holy cow, the discretization of continuous equations in general circulation models is completely wrong!
Instead, the backlash (an 18-point rise since 2006 in the percentage who say the risk of climate change is exaggerated, Gallup found this month) has been stoked by scientists’ abysmal communication skills, plus some peculiarly American attitudes, both brought into play now by how critics have spun the “Climategate” e-mails to make it seem as if scientists have pulled a fast one.
Scientists are lousy communicators. They appeal to people’s heads, not their hearts or guts, argues Randy Olson, who left a professorship in marine biology to make science films. “Scientists think of themselves as guardians of truth,” he says. “Once they have spewed it out, they feel the burden is on the audience to understand it” and agree.
[Read more at Newsweek]