Research seeks to characterize the climate change deniers

It is important for government and business to understand those who influence public opinion. Hence GallonDaily’s interest was immediately drawn to a recent paper by two University of Colorado researchers in the journal Celebrity Studies. The 16 page paper is entitled ‘Wise contrarians’: a keystone species in contemporary climate science, politics and policy.

The paper focuses on what it describes as a heterogeneous yet loosely configured set of people dubbed ‘climate contrarians’, who have achieved veritable celebrity status in contemporary discussions of climate science, politics and policy in the twenty-first-century public sphere, often through the guise of public intellectualism. It analyses:

  • the motivations that prop up these contrarian stances, such as ideological or evidentiary disagreement to the orthodox views of science;
  • the drive to fulfil the perceived desires of special interests (for example, carbon-based industry);
  • the exhilaration from self-perceived academic martyrdom; and
  • the more general desire for notoriety.

The researchers conclude that the views of these ‘wise contrarians’ are a reflection of contemporary cultural politics and they will not disappear any time soon.

The paper is available at http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/admin/publication_files/2013.35.pdf

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