Crank of the Week – June 24, 2014 – Connie Roser-Renouf

There are a lot of people involved in the debate over climate change who brandish facts and figures, arguing about science and the worth of the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Then there are others who have no scientific knowledge or command of the facts, who argue out of personal conviction, out of political ideology, out of faith. And then there are those who seek to manipulate the public's opinion. They may be news personalities, Hollywood stars, political operative or even university professors. One such academic propagandist is Connie Roser-Renouf, Assistant Professor of Environmental communication, persuasion, and science communication at George Mason University. Her latest paper suggest that efforts to increase citizen activism should promote specific beliefs about climate change. This position is not based on science but on philosophical belief.

In “The genesis of climate change activism: from key beliefs to political action,” Roser-Renouf et al., call for greater public activism in the name of climate change. “Citizen activism, it has been suggested, is the most efficacious method of achieving emission reductions, given that governments are unlikely to enact carbon limits without public pressure and individual conservation alone is incapable of producing sufficient emission reductions,” they state in the paper's introduction. Below is the paper's abstract:

Climate change activism has been uncommon in the U.S., but a growing national movement is pressing for a political response. To assess the cognitive and affective precursors of climate activism, we hypothesize and test a two-stage information-processing model based on social cognitive theory. In stage 1, expectations about climate change outcomes and perceived collective efficacy to mitigate the threat are hypothesized to influence affective issue involvement and support for societal mitigation action. In stage 2, beliefs about the effectiveness of political activism, perceived barriers to activist behaviors and opinion leadership are hypothesized to influence intended and actual activism. To test these hypotheses, we fit a structural equation model using nationally representative data. The model explains 52 percent of the variance in a latent variable representing three forms of climate change activism: contacting elected representatives; supporting organizations working on the issue; and attending climate change rallies or meetings. The results suggest that efforts to increase citizen activism should promote specific beliefs about climate change, build perceptions that political activism can be effective, and encourage interpersonal communication on the issue.

Puting aside the polysci and social science double speak, Roser-Renouf et al. outline a mult-part approach to figure out how to get more greens into the street, or at least calling their representatives, to decry the evils of modern industrial society. Why the concern? “In 2012, 11 percent of Americans contacted an elected official in support of mitigation policies, and 16 percent supported an organization working to reduce global warming,” the authors opine. Roser-Renouf is correct about the lack of concern over climate change. Recent polling shows climate change ranks dead last for most US voters.

Given that the authors admit the public is not very concerned about global warming, what's a covey of motivated shapers of public opinion to do? Appeal to the public's basic intelligence and present the scientific facts? Given that the science is bogus and the facts commensurately weak that is a non-starter. Instead these green propagandists offer an alternative to arguing the facts.

The science communication community has recognized that a simple presentation of the scientific facts does not necessarily motivate public engagement, and meta-analysis has shown that science literacy is only weakly correlated with public attitudes toward controversial scientific issues such as climate change (Allum et al. 2008). Values and motivated reasoning may bias information-seeking, interpretation and response to scientific issues (Kahan et al. 2010; Kunda 1990), and communicators have been advised to convey climate information in ways that connect with audience values, increase the issue’s relevance by emphasizing local consequences, and emphasize the co-benefits of emission reductions (Maibach et al. 2008; Myers et al. 2013; Bain et al. 2012).

Science is so overrated—let's talk values. Be deceitful, instruct the perfidious professors. After all, it's for the public's own good... or at least the climate researchers'. “[U]pon perceiving a potentially threatening outcome, individuals assess its severity and their susceptibility,” they assure their readers. In other words, scare the crap out of them.

“Opinion leadership should be associated with higher political self-efficacy, given the communicative competence and confidence opinion leadership reflects,” they claim. Meaning the better you get at lying the more confident you will feel and the better you will schnooker the public. I wonder if the professor teaches lying 101? Who is this person anyway and what are her qualifications? The best description comes from her faculty page:

Connie Roser-Renouf is an assistant research professor at George Mason University. Dr. Roser-Renouf received her Bachelor’s degree from United States International University in dance, her Master’s degree from San Diego State University in Mass Communication and her Ph. D. from Stanford University in Communication Research.

Global warming is supposedly the greatest threat to mankind ever seen and we are supposed to take the word of a dancer? I never want to hear the moron warmists question the credentials of skeptical scientists again. Granted, she does have a Masters and a PhD—in Mass Communication and Communication Research. She is by no stretch of the imagination a scientist. Her degrees qualify her to be a professional propagandist, not someone able to evaluate a scientific theory. But then, she wants to persuade you, not inform you.

“Now Dr. Roser-Renouf directs her attention towards climate control, specifically focusing on evaluating and improving the impact of community-based health campaigns and persuasion campaigns, but has also conducted experimental work on environmental risk communication and audience information processing,” her faculty blurb continues. Public Relations and Dance, what a killer combination. If she wanted to do something useful for humanity she should have stuck to dancing, instead of tap dancing and stepping sideways.

This is a perfect example of why people graduate from college and find themselves with no marketable skills. Ms Roser-Renouf might have found honest work in marketing but instead went to the dark side, using her meager talents to suggest better ways to bamboozle the public. She's a PR flack in service to the greatest scientific lie of our time—anthropogenic global warming. So, for attempting to give mendacity a legitimizing academic sheen, and for raising communication research bullshit to stratospheric heights, this Crank of the Week is all yours: Connie Roser-Renouf.