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Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community


Lewandowsky, S and Oreskes, N and Risbey, JS and Newell, BR and Smithson, M, Seepage: Climate change denial and its effect on the scientific community, Global Environmental Change. Part A: Human and Policy Dimensions, 33 pp. 1-13. ISSN 0959-3780 (2015) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.02.013


ested interests and political agents have long opposed political or regulatory action in response to climate change by appealing to scientific uncertainty. Here we examine the effect of such contrarian talking points on the scientific community itself. We show that although scientists are trained in dealing with uncertainty, there are several psychological reasons why scientists may nevertheless be susceptible to uncertainty-based argumentation, even when scientists recognize those arguments as false and are actively rebutting them. Specifically, we show that prolonged stereotype threat, pluralistic ignorance, and a form of projection (the third-person effect) may cause scientists to take positions that they would be less likely to take in the absence of outspoken public opposition. We illustrate the consequences of seepage from public debate into the scientific process with a case study involving the interpretation of temperature trends from the last 15 years. We offer ways in which the scientific community can detect and avoid such inadvertent seepage.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, global warming, hiatus, scientific norms, scientific assessment, climate change denial
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Sociology
Research Field:Sociology and social studies of science and technology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Adaptation to climate change
Objective Field:Social impacts of climate change and variability
UTAS Author:Risbey, JS (Dr James Risbey)
ID Code:118477
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:100
Deposited By:Directorate
Deposited On:2017-07-12
Last Modified:2017-08-31
Downloads:141 View Download Statistics

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