Matthew Nisbet and Chris Mooney have an article in Science about how scientists must accommodate themselves to the public in order to get their message across but Eli would rather concentrate on the Bell Curve version which underlies much of it,
Everywhere you look, polarized views from the tail ends of the bell curve of opinion on climate change are being picked up by the media. Indeed, only at a few outlets like the NY Times, WPost, or NPR can Americans get that "invisible middle" of views on the issue. Unfortunately, these are not the outlets that reach the wider public.This picks up strongly on the push back from the Inhofians, and says oh how awful that they are angry, without recognizing the panic stricken nature of that reaction. It is a good and encouraging thing. A part of the tactic being used is claiming those who are concerned about climate change as religious zealots, as Nisbet quotes William Buckley
The whole business is eerily religious in feel. Back in the 15th century, the question was: Do you believe in Christ? It was required in Spain by the Inquisition that the answer should be affirmative, leaving to one side subsidiary specifications. It is required today to believe that carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance.Now, on its face this is easy to handle by pointing out that the world was given into the care of men, adults accept responsibility, unruly children do not clean their rooms. Concern with the planet is a responsibility for those of faith as well as those who value the community of man. The snarky would note that Buckley has always had the same demands as the Inquisition.
Still this gets us far from where we started to go. If you want further examples, go look at Michael Tobis's new blog. Eli is not comparing Tobis, Nisbet and Mooney to our favored pinati, for one thing, and it is a very important thing, when confronted by climate nuttery, they call it spinach and they don't like it. Still, the tactics they recommend start by condemning what might loosely be called the Hansen-Gore position as way far out, and if not their science, saying that it enrages too many people.
This is the classic case of slamming the Overton Window shut on your own position. This is the
"window" in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, in a spectrum of all possible options on an issue. Overton described a method for moving that window, thereby including previously excluded ideas, while excluding previously acceptable ideas. The technique relies on people promoting ideas even less acceptable than the previous "outer fringe" ideas. That makes those old fringe ideas look less extreme, and thereby acceptable.....So what should be done. The important point which the Mooney's, Nisbet's and Tobis' are missing, is that they should not define the middle excluding those far to either side of their position. If you try that the Inhofes will define the window for you as including them, you on the other side and Hansen shut out in the cold. If those who think climate change is an important issue try to find the "middle" position as an accommodation, the denialists will leave the middle as the extreme.
What is needed is to move the window AWAY from the Inhofe position, which means always pointing out how unacceptable it is on moral, religious, and scientific grounds, and how thin its real support is. It won't hurt to point to the local Lyndon LaRouche group's complete agreement with Monckton and Inhofe on this, the equivalent of the Hitler Stalin pact as it were. The first job is to move the window toward the reality of man made climate change.
Establish that climate change driven by our actions as a significant problem. Start by pointing to what is the reasonable extreme for meeting this challenge, something beyond what Hansen, for example, recommends.