Hi readers,

A few interesting links for your long weekend!

Did Obama mess up when he talked about climate change? It is important to be aware of the rhetoric we use to describe global warming and how cautious we need to be so that it doesn’t backfire. When Obama mentioned that “climate change is not a hoax” at the September Democratic convention, he may have unintentionally generated the “illusion of truth effect.” Essentially, the theory is that the more often we hear an idea, the greater credibility we give it… even when it’s presented as a “false claim.” Go with the affirmation, psychologists tell us, over any repetition of the myth.

From the piece: “Although we regularly process negations accurately, the risk of miscommunication is higher than it is for affirmative statements like “climate change is a real problem” because negations require more work. They have been shown to slow response times and lower reading comprehension.

“When discourse of any kind becomes more complicated, including when it contains negation or embedded clauses or passive voice, more working memory resources are necessary to process the information,” said Sara Margolin, a psychologist at the State University of New York at Brockport.”
Psychologist Ruth Mayo has also done research that “shows that negations can backfire when they lack what she calls “an alternative affirmative schema.” The negation “John is not smart,” for example, has a direct affirmative translation in “John is stupid.” By contrast, “John is not romantic,” does not have a clear affirmative counterpart, so the recipient of the message is stuck with associations related to romance and must remember to negate them. “For me, ‘hoax’ doesn’t have an opposite that could serve as an alternative affirmative schema,” Mayo said. “If the alternative doesn’t pop into our mind easily, then I think it’s problematic.”

More climate mind games

What is the future of geothermal designs?

Can the Maya’s collapse be attributed to climate change?

The tragic tale of rising bird deaths and glass buildings in cities is a reminder of how important it is to think beyond the intended consequences of the planned environment.

Time Magazine interviews Barbara Kingsolver about her new novel Flight Behavior and the topic of climate change. 

How to build affordable and sustainable homes.

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