The Guardian : Trumped by a Stuffed Toucan

[ Left to Right : Dr David Adam (The Guardian), Ben Stewart (Greenpeace), Tooki the Toucan operated by George Marshall (ClimateDenial.org) and Marina from Campaign against Climate Change]

On Wednesday evening, at the “Sceptic Backlash” public event, hosted by the Campaign against Climate Change, communications researcher George Marshall introduced the meeting to an unusual commentator on Climate Change…

http://www.campaigncc.org/scepticsmeeting

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/15/ben-stewart-greenpeace-stalking/

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/15/david-adam-liberal-pacifier/

Here is a transcript of what George Marshall said (as I have it) :-


– I do a lot of work around Climate Change communications and information.

– Climate Change is a large and technical issue. No one has the time to get totally on top of it. Even within the Science the specialists only look at their specialist areas.

– The average Media “punter” (somebody looking for information) is looking for a shortcut – their “ask” is “just tell me what’s going on”.

– Most people ask “Dave” down the pub (public house, bar). Friends and acquaintances in bars are the most important people in your social network, no doubt.

– And Dave says he saw this thing on telly (television)…

– The average person is just looking for a source of information that has some kind of authority…

– I’m now going to introduce you to a Climate expert. Princeton University Sloan Professor Richard Lindzen couldn’t make it here tonight, but I do have an expert here who can speak on behalf of the Science – [pulls out stuffed glove puppet] Tooki the Toucan !

– [Question and answer session with the sqawking toy regarding various data about Climate.] Who believes the views of Richard Lindzen ? And who believes the Toucan ?

– [I used this example to highlight that we tend to agree with those] supporting what we already know [even if that’s a stuffed toy !]

– The information we hear is filtered on existing parameters [what we already accept].

– How we form beliefs – based on a cluster of attitudes [that we already have]. Lindzen is presenting a cluster of attitudes.

– I’ve met leading climatologists – many coming fom the free market right – for example [Lord Nigel] Lawson’s body [The Global Warming Policy Foundation], and when they speak, the Climate Science is hardly touched upon.

– This word “freedom” is a touchstone – they’re not listening to the Science.

– The language they use speaks to and triggers their own world attitudes.

– [Many Climate Change “sceptics”] have held leading, serious offices [functions, of state] in the past, but they are now retired.

– They like being in the limelight.

– Many of them are good communicators – charming.

– Philip Stott – do any of you know Professor Philip Stott ? [Professor Emeritus of Biogeography at the School of Oriental and African Studies]. The Media know that if they can get him, he’s going to give good telly.

– Remember, when the Media call you they to ask a few questions they are interviewing you to see if you can give a good performance.

– The way people form beliefs is not by going through the [peer-reviewed] literature, it’s based on trust and their pre-existing worldviews.

– [The sceptics aim to present you with a package of ideas] provide you with a shortcut so you don’t have to think about it.

– The sceptics provide reassurance – they’re thorough – about the way they collect story lines. This kind of rigour was promoted by Frank Lunz [USA political strategist] – the words have to create “resonant metaphors”.

– The sceptics have tried out many different messages [on focus groups, for example] – they are not bound to the truth.

– Their core narratives [centre around their projection that they are] valiant speakers for truth. They play the “outsider” role well.

– We’ve been dependent on Science so much.

– [The sceptics use this against us by accusing us, saying] we’ve been telling lies – about hell, catastrophe, sacrifice, austerity…

– Who are the public going to go with ? The business-as-usual, coherent narrative [ – the “All is OK. Nothing to worry about” story].

– [The environmentalists continue to make the fatal mistake of “owning” Climate Change]. We promote our own lifestyles, stamp our [ideological] interests all over the subject of Climate Change.

– We have to get our act together in terms of communications.

– We need to speak to peoples’ existing values.

– We need to increase the range of people speaking – to different views and politics – create a diversity of messaging.

– Campaigners have to let go of the [same old, same old] way we talk about Climate Change.


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