Can science explain why educated and intelligent people don’t believe science? Yes. For green marketing and green policy the implications are profound.
Since the Enlightenment we believed that people are rational. Give people the facts and based on reason and logic they will make sensible decisions. Research reveals an inconvenient truth that turns 300 years of accepted wisdom on its head. Facts take the back seat when we make up our minds.
- Facts are filtered through values and beliefs, about morality and how society should be ordered
- Education plus strong beliefs can make people more resistant to ideas that contradict their beliefs
- When these conditions exist, attempting to motivate these people with facts can produce a backlash
- Who you will accept as a legitimate scientific authority is determined by your value-belief framework.
- It makes you discount the validity of facts scientists present about risks and benefits
- These are universal human traits that show up across the spectrum of morals and beliefs
When it comes to climate change, and policies related to it, people with strong faith and conservative convictions are the most likely to deny the facts. When these folks are highly educated they actively attack the science and policies related to it.
Is there any hope for change? Yes. The science must be presented by business or religious leaders. And the science must be framed in the context of business profit-and-loss, or faith-based values.
For more on the research behind these findings check out The Science of Why We Don’t Believe in Science in Mother Jones.