On a number of occasions I’ve seen suggestions that those who want to communicate the seriousness of climate change, should aim to understand the social sciences and should listen more to social scientists. I’m well aware that there’s much about this general topic that I don’t understand and that there are many aspects that are more relevant to the social sciences, than the physical sciences. The problem I have is which social science should I aim to understand better and which social scientists should I be listening to.
Should I listen to those who think we should go beyond climate consensus, or those who think consensus messaging is a gateway belief? Those who think we should focus more on adaptation science or those who think we need direct action to stop climate change? What about those who think climate change is a wicked problem for which there is no real solution, or those who think that some areas of the social sciences should take credit for the post-truth world. Should I be listening to them?
Unlike the physical sciences, the social sciences doesn’t seem to develop obvious consensus positions. Given this, how do we know which social science we should be paying attention to and which social scientists we should be listening to? However, if there is a consensus position, then it would be very useful to know what it is. If there isn’t, but there are some positions that are stronger than others, then maybe this should be made clear.
Maybe rather than scientists, and science communicators, better understanding social science and listening more to social scientists, social scientists should be communicating in ways that make it easier to understand the relevant social science and who it is that we should be listening to.