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Truth is Powerful

Science coverage of climate change can change minds—briefly


Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain Science reporting on climate change does lead Americans to adopt more accurate beliefs and support government action on the issue—but these gains are fragile, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that these accurate beliefs fade quickly and can erode when people are exposed to coverage skeptical of climate change.

“It is not the case that the American public does not respond to scientifically informed reporting when they are exposed to it,” said Thomas Wood, associate professor of political science at The Ohio State University.

“But even factually accurate science reporting recedes from people’s frame of reference very quickly.”

The study will be published June 24, 2022 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences . Wood conducted the study with Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College and Ethan Porter of George Washington University.

Results showed that accurate science reporting didn’t persuade only Democrats—Republicans and people who initially rejected human-caused climate change also had their opinions shifted by reading accurate articles.The study involved 2,898 online participants who participated in four waves of the experiment during the fall of 2020.In the first wave, they all read authentic articles in the popular media that provided information reflecting the scientific consensus on climate […]

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