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UK Academics Advocate 'Silencing Dissent' To Keep Fear Alive

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UK Academics Advocate Silencing Dissent on Climate Change and Covid-19 | Watts Up With That?

Coronavirus shows how to get people to act on climate change – here's the psychology​. 
With COVID-19, the early messaging attempted to circumscribe the nature of the threat. In March, the WHO announced that: "COVID-19 impacts the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions most severely." Similar statements were made by the UK government.

A reasonable interpretation of this would be that the virus does not "affect" young people. But as new clinical data came in, this message was changed to emphasise that the virus could affect people of all ages and doesn't discriminate.

 To make climate change messages more effective, we need to target these cognitive biases. To prevent temporal and spatial biases, for example, we need a clear message as to why climate change is bad for individuals in their own lives in the here and now (establishing an appropriate affect heuristic).

And to prevent optimism bias, we also need to avoid presenting "both sides of the argument" in the messaging – the science tells us that there's only one side. There also needs to be a clear argument as to why recommended, sustainable behaviours will work (establishing a different sort of confirmation bias).

We also need everyone to get the message, not just some groups – that's an important lesson from COVID-19. There can be no (apparent) exceptions when it comes to climate change.

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