Cognitive Bias or Climate Dissonance

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We know deep down inside we ought not to judge other people because they are different to us. And yet partiality creeps into our lives as surely as night follows day. We also know we could follow the lead Alexandria Villasenor and her school friends provide. But we don’t, as surely as we watch global warming threaten our species and do nothing. Matthew Wilburn King thinks we can blame our cognitive bias for this. Possibly we should blame ourselves.

Systematic Patterns of Behavior Down to Cognitive Bias

Human scientists say we have entrenched patterns of behavior that run counter to what we judge right. Hence we may keep smoking cigarettes, or taking harmful drugs in our heart of hearts we know harm us.

This may be why we are passing by the opportunity to respond personally to the threat of climate change. The logical half of our brain tells us average global warming of 1.5 C within 11 years is dangerous. Yet we ignore the personal dangers we may face from economic slowing, increased risks to health, and food and water security. That’s because our cognitive bias keeps shutting the information out.

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Cognitive Dissonance the Other Side of the Equation

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort we experience when we try to reconcile opposing beliefs. Social scientists say we try to resolve this by seeking reasons to believe one approach or the other.

We may follow one of two options. We may seek reasons to strengthen one side of the debate in our brains. Alternatively, we may find ways to diminish the power of the other. Next time a world leader makes a provocative statement about climate change, try interpreting this in terms of their values.

Which rationale are they using to influence our belief? Are they appealing to our cognitive bias, or inflaming our cognitive dissonance, perhaps?


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About Author


I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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