Psychology of climate change: Why people deny the evidence

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Published on: December 3, 2018

CBC News / Nicole Mortillaro / 02 December 2018

The message seems to be clear: Earth’s climate is rapidly changing as a result of human activity. So how is it that some people are still reluctant to acknowledge it?

According to some psychologists, there are a number of reasons, including the prevalence of deceptive or erroneous information about the topic […]

There’s something else that may be at play at the subconscious level that allows us to disregard the evidence that’s in front of us.

“A big part isn’t the experience; it’s the motivation,” said Paul Thagard, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo’s Department of Philosophy, who specializes in cognitive science.

“Psychologists talk a lot about ‘motivated inference’ … when people have strong motivations, they’re very selective in the sort of evidence they look for.”

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