04 Oct '11, 8pm

Dot Earth Blog: A Medical Metaphor for Climate Risk, Including the Risk of Overreaction

I agree with Robert Socolow that scientists could do better at encouraging a high quality of discussion about climate change. But providing better technical descriptions will not help most people because they do not follow that level of detail. Psychological research shows that people often use simple, familiar mental models as analogies for complex phenomena. It will help people think through climate choices to have a mental model that is familiar and evocative and that also neatly encapsulates Socolow’s points that the news is unwelcome, that science is incomplete, and that some solutions are dangerous. There is such a model. Too many people think of climate science as an exact science like astronomy that can make highly confident predictions, such as about lunar eclipses. That model misrepresents the science, does poorly at making Socolow’s points, and has provided an o...

Full article: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/a-medical-me...

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