Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Big Think's response to anti-nuclear emoters' attack

Self-identified environmentalists went to Madison Avenue and got a slick campaign against nuclear energy.
Today David Ropeik wrote about it.

Naive Anti-Nuclear Videos Demonstrate the Danger of Thinking with Our Hearts, Not Our Brains | Big Think:
Five environmental groups have just released a series of videos attacking nuclear power that demonstrate a disturbing and frightening truth, a truth that has nothing to do with nuclear energy. The videos make depressingly clear that our intellectual ability to think carefully and objectively about the enormous and complex threats we face is hogtied by powerful subconscious instincts that produce perceptions based far more on emotion than reason. The videos are a stark reminder that for all the rational firepower of the human brain, the subjective and instinctive aspects of human cognition pose serious limitations on our ability to figure out how to keep ourselves safe 
The videos were produced in part by more strident, absolutist environmental groups, including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Sierra Club. These groups all advocate action to combat climate change, of course, including clean energy. But to them, nuclear power remains a technological bogeyman that any true back-to-nature environmentalist is simply expected to oppose. Opposition to nuclear energy remains an established belief of the tribe, to be unquestioningly accepted and supported as a demonstration of one’s loyalty to environmentalist values. Which is why a good many greens will cheer these videos, and uncritically accept what they say as true. 
This instinct, to see the evidence the way our groups do, is ancient and powerful. We have evolved, as social animals, to depend on our tribes, the groups we identify with, for our very health and safety. It feels safe to go with what the group says, rather than think independently and take the risk of disagreeing with the group’s belief. That instinct for tribal loyalty may help us feel safe, but as these videos demonstrate, it can badly warp how we see the facts, and overwhelm our ability to keep an open mind and think about things carefully and objectively.
Read the entire work at Big Think.

This work (Ropeik is at Harvard) is not dissimilar to work I noted yesterday by Dan Kahan (Yale).

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