Study: Television Has Less Effect on Education about Climate Change than Other Forms of Media

Television Has Less Effect on Education about Climate Change than Other Forms of Media

From a press release at George Mason University

FAIRFAX, Va.–Worried about climate change and want to learn more? You probably aren’t watching television then. A new study by George Mason University Communication Professor Xiaoquan Zhao suggests that watching television has no significant impact on viewers’ knowledge about the issue of climate change. Reading newspapers and using the web, however, seem to contribute to people’s knowledge about this issue.

The study, “Media Use and Global Warming Perceptions: A Snapshot of the Reinforcing Spirals”, looked at the relationship between media use and people’s perceptions of global warming. The study asked participants how often they watch TV, surf the Web, and read newspapers. They were also asked about their concern and knowledge of global warming and specifically its impact on the polar regions.

“Unlike many other social issues with which the public may have first-hand experience, global warming is an issue that many come to learn about through the media,” says Zhao. “The primary source of mediated information about global warming is the news.”

The results showed that people who read newspapers and use the Internet more often are more likely to be concerned about global warming and believe they are better educated about the subject. Watching more television, however, did not seem to help.

He also found that individuals concerned about global warming are more likely to seek out information on this issue from a variety of media and nonmedia sources. Other forms of media, such as the Oscar-winning documentary “The Inconvenient Truth” and the blockbuster thriller “The Day After Tomorrow,” have played important roles in advancing the public’s interest in this domain.

Politics also seemed to have an influence on people’s perceptions about the science of global warming. Republicans are more likely to believe that scientists are still debating the existence and human causes of global warming, whereas Democrats are more likely to believe that a scientific consensus has already been achieved on these matters.

“Some media forms have clear influence on people’s perceived knowledge of global warming, and most of it seems positive,” says Zhao. “Future research should focus on how to harness this powerful educational function.”

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Here is Table 3 from the paper (PDF), provided to me by the press office.

TV_watching_climate_info

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31 thoughts on “Study: Television Has Less Effect on Education about Climate Change than Other Forms of Media

  1. DUH!
    And we needed to know this – – – why?
    How much did this study cost?
    Where did the money come from?
    Why didn’t they call me first?

  2. As Steve Jobs notably said, TV is for when people want to turn their brains off, whilst the internet is for when they want to turn their brains on.

  3. I don’t need a study to tell me that watching television has “no significant impact on viewers’ knowledge” about much of anything at all.

    I believe that Professor Xiaoquan Zhao just spent 3 months watching television to prove this point in person.

  4. Ron de Haan you make a good point and IF the study had been on a comparison of data (both amount and facts – as say compared to commentary) on the subject of Climate Change presented between the various “information” sources, i.e., internet and TV, newspaper and TV, internet and magazines, etc. or within one form of media, i.e., TV – NBC news vs FOX news, print – Wall Street Jr. vs NYT, etc. or even say between Talk Radio, TV News and Movies, now THAT would be enlightening and I’m sure would shock a lot of people.

    It astounds me what people take for “fact” on shows like “Law and Order” or even the Discovery and the History channels.

    “To learn something, is nothing – unless it is the truth.”
    “To know something, is nothing – unless you use it wisely.”

  5. Television Has Less Effect on Education about ________________ than Other Forms of Media.

    Fixed it.

    JimB

  6. Milwaukee Bob (09:38:49) :

    Ron de Haan you make a good point and IF the study had been on a comparison of data (both amount and facts – as say compared to commentary) on the subject of Climate Change presented between the various “information” sources, i.e., internet and TV, newspaper and TV, internet and magazines, etc. or within one form of media, i.e., TV – NBC news vs FOX news, print – Wall Street Jr. vs NYT, etc. or even say between Talk Radio, TV News and Movies, now THAT would be enlightening and I’m sure would shock a lot of people.

    It astounds me what people take for “fact” on shows like “Law and Order” or even the Discovery and the History channels.

    “To learn something, is nothing – unless it is the truth.”
    “To know something, is nothing – unless you use it wisely.”

    Thank you Bob,

    You have hit the nail right on the head.
    At this moment in time, you can’t watch a documentary, an interview, an entertainment program or a commercial without an AGW message.

    The same is happening at our schools, government information, information about products, from kitchen products, washing machines via flat screens and computers to cars (green, low energy use = good, red, high energy use = bad)

    I have adapted to a policy to reject services and products that make the AGW link or co-advertise with organizations like Greenpeace or WWF.

    So I wrote an e-mail to Apple telling them I was going to throw out all the Mac products I use in my office if they continue their cooperation with Al Gore (and I will).
    I informed Volvo that I will stop buying their cars if they continue to support radical environmentalists and I switched from my energy provider the moment they offered
    “green energy”, but not without sending them a letter why I switched.
    I also kicked out several newspapers and magazines because all the BS they publish.
    This is our strongest weapon and I advise all of you to do the same thing.
    KLM recently announced an investment in tropical forests so I gave them a call and told them I was going to stop flying with them.
    When they asked me why, I told them they should reject the AGW hoax and fight back instead of bending over at our costs.
    They don’t stop the tropical forest project, but I will not fly with them anymore.
    The problem is that I do this alone, more people should adopt this policy.
    There is not a company in the world who likes to lose customers as there is no politician who wants to lose the next elections.

    The George Mason University has been studying how to brainwash people more effectively using the new media.
    That makes them part of the problem.
    So, don’t send your kids to them if they want to study, find a non biased university, but let them know why you don’t send your kids to them.

    It’s all propaganda now and we can only fight back by rejecting it.

    Power to the people please, not to the Government.

    Screw them.

  7. The Red-Green Show Cabaret*: Velcome to Showbusiness.
    …-

    “Berlin brothel cuts rates for ‘green’ customers
    Seattle Times ^ | 10/16/09 | Mary MacPherson Lane

    BERLIN — Part of Berlin’s red-light scene is going green. One bordello, hoping to stave off falling demand in the economic crisis, has begun offering discounts to customers who pedal bicycles to the door. “It’s very difficult to find parking around here, and this option is better for our environment,” said Thomas Goetz, who owns the brothel Maison d’Envie, or House of Desire. Local residents in Prenzlauer Berg – a part of former East Berlin now home to scores of trendy boutiques, restaurants and clubs – had staunchly supported the Green party in recent elections and have welcomed the bordello’s offer to emphasize the environment. The bordellos in the capital of Germany, where prostitution is legal, have seen business suffer with the global financial crisis. Patrons have become more frugal, and there are fewer potential customers coming to the city for business trips and conferences.”

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2364040/posts

    * “Willkommen! Bienvenue! Welcome!
    Im Cabaret, Au Cabaret, To Cabaret!
    Meine Damen und Herren-
    Mes dames et Messieurs-
    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    Guten Abend! Bon Soir! Good Evening!
    Wie geht’s? Comment sa va?
    Do you feel good?
    Ich bin eur confrencier!
    Je suis votre compère,
    I am you host!”

  8. I find it most revealing that if you want to know a persons political stance, just ask them about thier belief in global warming. There is a striking correlation…

    I also used to think humans on average were very inquisitive creatures, but I’m now thinking it’s a much smaller percentage. The majority just wants entertainment…too bad they can vote…

  9. Be careful how the question if framed. Of course television has less effect on education than other media. However; television has a greater effect on the public’s underlying assumptions than other media. People spend hours watching TV and subliminally absorbing the context of the programming. The people who control otherwise reliable sources understand this phenomena.

    Programming developed by or in conjunction with GE often refers to global warming as accepted science. There is no attempt to educate the viewer about the science; it’s simply presented as underlying fact. Underlying assumptions are important when accepting or rejecting new information. As new information is presented, people will always evaluate the new facts for conformance with what they already “know” about the area.

    I enjoy watching the Discovery channel but keep the remote in hand for the last two or three minutes so I can switch when the announcer says global wa…

  10. ET, there is also a striking correlation between thinking for yourself and your political stance…. and i’ll say no more about it.

    And the problem is NOT the sheeple that vote, but any one with a brain (and is eligible) that DOESN’T vote!

    Prime Minister Snowball – – er, President Obama “won”, contrary to what you hear ON TV, (Duh!) with only 22.9% of Americans (most of them were) voting for – “change” or 33% of eligible voters.

    Ballpark – 38% of eligible voters, DIDN’T VOTE! And thus we have change… and THEY complain.

    Hopefully it’s not to late and they’ll get out from in from of their TVs…. and learn something. Hey! I can have a slice of hope toooooo… can’t I??

  11. Ironic that they used “The Inconvenient Truth” and “The Day After Tomorrow” in the same sentence. (Any similarities between the two is purely coincidental…or perhaps not…)

    But seriously (or not?), with the advent of the “it’s already a blockbuster: movie ‘2012’, people do seem to blur what is real and what is special effects. Or rather, this is the new form of subliminal messages.

    [ I've actually talked with someone that was under the impression that they are going to wake up one day, and find a foot of water in their house, all caused by global warming. When reiterated back to them, the foolishness of the notion was quite evident on their face, but the argument was simply deflected to other 'bad things' that are happening (like all the thousands of species dying each day, polar bears, etc, etc.) ]

    The ‘2012’ movie looks to have some spectacular, if totally unrealistic, effects. As if Hollywood can really do any different. But the underlying message is simply “doom and gloom, and it’s all your fault” particularly because of the current climate (sic).

    I was depressed just watching the trailer – it’s ominous overtones designed to oppress and depress, indicating governments inability to address such issues, along with more ‘we are all gonna’ die!’ syndrome.

    You can find any number of trailers and previews. But, I think the more substantive ones are the ones which focuses on the acting talent (no effects):

    But, my absolute favorite – and actually the trailer that wants me to watch it is the classic 70’s style disaster movie remix (I recommend you watch a few of the depressing trailers before this one – it gives this one a much better effect):

  12. wws (09:27:03) :
    I believe that Professor Xiaoquan Zhao just spent 3 months watching television to prove this point in person.

    LOL!!

    Milwaukee Bob (13:00:53) :
    Ballpark – 38% of eligible voters, DIDN’T VOTE! And thus we have change… and THEY complain.

    I EARNED the right to vociferiously complain, I voted 4 times thanks to ACORN.

  13. Tim,
    ROTFL!
    I love that word – “vociferously”!!

    But a question- Only 4 times? What, you missed the bus to the next polling location?

  14. Stefan (09:10:22) :

    As Steve Jobs notably said, TV is for when people want to turn their brains off, whilst the internet is for when they want to turn their brains on

    I won’t bash on Steve Jobs (alright, just a bit – he’s a paranoid wacko) and he does know a thing or two about ‘stuff’, but the internet was made for porn and movies (tongue in cheek, but not too far from the truth).

    Consider the popularity of things like twitter, people used this information technology to get just enough information to form an opinion about something.

    TV usage down Internet usage up. What does this mean? Getting information is still hard work. Do people substitute the passivity of watching TV, to an active task of ‘using’ the internet? The internet *is* more dynamic, while the TV is static – even with 57 channels (and there’s nothing on) you get what you are given with little choice. The chances are, you’ll experience a notion or idea which you haven’t been exposed to before. With the internet you can get what you like, and not have to look or listen at stuff you don’t want to hear or see. Simply, dig deep enough into Google (twitter, iPhone, or whatever) to form an opinion and soak up any internet-entertainment which supports that opinion.

    I’m not saying TV is ‘better’ by any means, but implying that tools like the internet give people more information is completely false. The information is there – it always has been (libraries, journals, and so on) – but it still requires active work to get it. We live in a Twitter world where 2 minute microwave popcorn is 2 minutes too long.

    “Internet! Entertain me. Now!”

  15. Milwaukee Bob (13:37:05) :
    But a question- Only 4 times? What, you missed the bus to the next polling location?

    Naw, I expressed interest in a brothel and they showed me some available assets for sale.

  16. From the article…

    “Other forms of media, such as the Oscar-winning documentary “The Inconvenient Truth” and the blockbuster thriller “The Day After Tomorrow,” have played important roles in advancing the public’s interest in this domain.”

    Probably because of their entertainment value rather than any factual content.

  17. Well on the bright side, it means nobody is watching any of that Discovery Channel/ Tom Brokaw “we’re all doomed” nonsense.
    But then again that doesn’t matter to our AGW betters.

  18. On ABC World News Tonight: A record October storms hammering the NE. Images of plenty of snow.
    Record snow.
    Earliest snowfalls in history.
    Temperatures fit for January, not early October.
    Nor’Easters.
    “Nother one on the way.
    Ah, but it’s just weather. Isn’t it?

  19. OceanTwo, If people are willing to spend only 2 minutes thinking about a topic, they’ll get more varied points of view from the first couple pages of Google hits than they’ll see on an hour of TV. In a way, people might be using the internet more because they are lazy, and this is a noble virtue ;-)

  20. For fifty years television was the gateway to world news and information. It empowered a new group of arbiters who controlled the editorial process. Since then there has been a continuous dilution of television’s influence and audiences. Both have been replaced by a huge expansion of media and resources representing millions of perspectives on life.

    One major benefit of the failed AGW campaign is to make the general public far more skeptical of claims to “consensus” and “official” and “peer-review.” Will this prevent scandals and hoaxes in the future? Not unless people remain vigilant about thinking for themselves. If you want even a semblance of truth – you gotta go out and look for it.

    Most people don’t want to do the work. But then there’s these folks called AGW skeptics who look for and publish their version of truth. Happily.

  21. But on CBS Evening News this Saturday, Oct 17th, the story was the historical opening of the NE passage and the shocking discoveries of the Caitlin Survey, with an interview on Chief Expedition Scientist Pen Hadow.
    At least he admitted they had to abandon thier Icy Trek halfway to the Pole.

    The only thing warming up is the unvetted Ice Folly stories, faster than anyone had expected.

    The real story, though, is the double-whammy early Noreaster.
    Too bad TV has lost most of it’s journalists.

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