No laughing matter, yet humor inspires climate change activism – so does fear

From CORNELL University and the Manntastic claims department comes this silly study.

ITHACA, N.Y. – Melting icecaps, mass flooding, megadroughts and erratic weather are no laughing matter. However, a new study shows that humor can be an effective means to inspire young people to pursue climate change activism. At the same time, fear proves to be an equally effective motivator and has the added advantage of increasing people’s awareness of climate change’s risks.

“Young people have a huge stake in global climate change. They are going to bear the brunt of it, more so than old guys like me,” said Jeff Niederdeppe, associate professor of communication at Cornell University, who oversaw the study. “Young people buy green products, they believe in climate change, they’re worried about it, but they’re not as politically active on the issue as older generations are. And if you look at where millennials get news information, it’s from John Oliver and Trevor Noah, these satirical news programs. We wanted to test if this humorous approach could be used to engage young people in climate change activism.”

The study, “Pathways of Influence in Emotional Appeals: Benefits and Tradeoffs of Using Fear or Humor to Promote Climate Change-Related Intentions and Risk Perceptions,” published in the Journal of Communication, was the result of a partnership grant between Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, where Niederdeppe is a faculty fellow, and the Environmental Defense Fund.

Niederdeppe readily admits that academics don’t make the best comedians. So, the researchers partnered with Second City Works, a marketing offshoot of the legendary improvisational theater troupe in Chicago that launched the careers of Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and other Saturday Night Live alums.

Second City Works created a series of online videos that feature a weatherman providing forecasts about extreme weather patterns caused by climate change in the United States, each with a drastically different tone. A humorous video emphasized the weatherman’s cluelessness as he struggled to understand the signs of climate change. A more ominous version highlighted the severity of climate change and its devastating impacts. A third video used a neutral tone and language to present an informational view of climate change. Each video concluded with a recommendation to “Find out what your local officials and the presidential candidates think about climate change. Have your voice heard on Nov. 8.” A fourth video about income inequality was used as a control.

“The humor video made people laugh more, and people who found it funny were more likely to want to plan to partake in activism, recycle more and believe climate change is risky,” said Christofer Skurka, a third-year doctoral student in communication, who is the paper’s lead author.

While the study focused on adults between the ages of 18 and 30, the researchers found that college-aged adults between 18 and 24 were most inspired to activism by the humorous video. Fear, meanwhile, proved to be equally effective across the entire age range, both in raising awareness about climate change’s risks and motivating viewers to intend to engage in direct action, although the ominous video was not perceived by respondents to be as informative as the neutral, informational video.

“I don’t think this study, in and of itself, says we should use fear over humor,” Niederdeppe said. “This was a particular type of humor. It was very silly. The clueless weatherman was the butt of the jokes. But if you look at the kind of satirical commentary like John Oliver does, there is a bite and a target: industry or the hypocrisy of politicians, for instance. Our next project is looking at whether we can combine humor with this biting, anger-inducing satire, and if that can promote even greater motivation to take action.”

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84 thoughts on “No laughing matter, yet humor inspires climate change activism – so does fear

    • “Niederdeppe readily admits that academics don’t make the best comedians.”

      Climate change humor?

      A climate change activist and an engineering student are standing at the campus quad when a beautiful girl rides by on a bicycle. The engineering student says, “Boy, I’d like to screw HER”.

      The climate activist responds, “Screw her out of what?”

      • A climate change activist walks into a union workers’ bar with an alligator under his arm.

        The bartender says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. You can’t bring that thing in here.”

        The alligator takes the cigar from his mouth and says, “Why not? I bring him everywhere”.

      • A climate activist, a socialist and the Pope walk into a bar. “What will you have” your Eminence, asked the bartender.

      • Exactly, and all other worst case despots: “Give me the child and I’ll give you the man.”

      • MarkW:

        This thread is about humour. Please provide new jokes.

        Your silly assertion that everything you don’t like is “socialist” has become so frequent that it has ceased being a cause of laughter and has become boring.

        However, your daftest excesses may amuse some new to WUWT so, in hope of helping you, I point to your recent post on another WUWT thread which claims the UK Tories are socialists. Of course, the most amusing thing about that idiotic claim is the thought of Tories frothing at the mouth if they were aware of it.

        Richard

      • Interesting comment from Mr Courtney below. I wonder if Richard could point me to one – just one – true conservative who believes the man made global warming scam?

      • Yes, Richard, I also defy you to name one conservative—just one—who accepts the scientific evidence.

        Someone genuinely conservative.

        And male, obviously. I’m talking about a man.

        A bona-fide man.

        From Scotland.

        Just one.

        Your inability to answer tells me all I need to know. :-)

      • Yes Richard, we get your schtick, anyone who opposes an avowed socialist, can’t be a socialist, even when they push policies that the rest of the world would recognize as being socialist.
        Tories oppose the real socialists, there sin is wanting socialism to be installed more slowly than the real socialists do.
        I also recognize that those who are receiving money taken by force from those who earned it have more freedom than they otherwise would have, however net freedom goes down. Not that this matters to the majority who are benefiting from free lunches.

      • BTW Richard, your anger towards me for daring to challenge your religion is causing you to see things.
        I’ve never said or implied that everything I don’t like is socialism, it’s more that there is nothing to like about socialism. Unless you are one of those people who are getting the free lunches.

      • Remember, we are talking about Europe here. When they talk about left and right they mean very different things then an American would.

        When a EUROPEAN says Left Wing they mean an international socialist, Communist, or Globalist. When they say Right Wing they mean a national socialist, corporate welfareist, or crony ‘capitalist’.

        It really is all just different flavors of socialism.

        ~¿~

      • Richard froths “This thread is about humour. Please provide new jokes.”
        Your wish is my command, Oh Petulant Proletariat Person!

        Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism had a meeting for tea at noon.
        Capitalism and Communism arrived on time, but Socialism was nowhere to be found.
        Finally he arrived, out of breath and apologetic.
        “I’m sorry,” said Socialism, “I was standing in line for sausage.”
        Capitalism questioned “Why was there a line?”
        And Communism asked “What’s a sausage?”

      • schitzree, richard is quite insistent that only his definitions of left and right, based on the French parliament sevaral hundred years ago, is the correct one.
        Anyone who uses a different definition is just to stupid to have an opinion.

      • Mr. Courtney,

        I invite you (and everyone else) to listen to the following recording made by a teachers assistant at a university in Canada, who was called into a ‘re-education’ meeting. Her crime was showing a 5 minute video to students, that came from a local newscast, and represented both sides of an issue the class was currently talking about. The language used by her professor and two administrators is absolutely horrifying; straight out of 1984 and Atlas Shrugged. It is important to note that the professor is lying when he tells the young women that there was at least one registered complaint from a student against her. An investigation revealed that there was no formal complaint, or even an informal complaint against her. Furthermore, a follow-up poll of the entire faculty revealed that the majority supported the manipulating, intimidating, mind-controlling and priming methods of the University representatives, and not the young teachers assistant desire for free speech.

        This is hardly an isolated incident, as it is no secret that the far left has become dominant in higher level education, much of the media, late-night talk show hosts and increasingly in scientific fields across the Western World. (This is hardly surprising because every young scientist or journalist has recently graduated from a socialist controlled university) Non-far left students have been complaining about it for years, but their stories have been anecdotal. The young TA in the video has identified herself as a liberal, but was savvy enough to record the meeting.

        The point here is that MarkW is making a very valid point. The above article is a study in socialist propaganda, and has nothing to do with science. It is about increasing socialist power around the world under the guise of climate change science, which we all know is bogus hobgoblin.

      • Jclark: I’m a different Courtney, thank you very much for the video. Reminded me of my own alma mater, Marquette University, dishonoring itself and showing that even private, catholic universities are full-throated PC enforcers. In a nutshell, a student tried to tell a TA the catholic position on gay marriage. TA abused him. The department would not respond to his complaint, so he took it to a conservative prof. in another dept. who sent TA an email re: treatment of students and catholic treatment of the subject. TA abused him. MU Pres tried to fire the tenured prof for bringing it into the open! And when he was forced to follow procedures resulting in greatly reduced punishment, MU Pres refused to accept it (so did prof, I think). May still be in court, I have trouble following the story. A catholic university that thinks the church’s position is hate speech?! My impression is, if WUWT exposed CAGW as a hoax this very day, it would still be about a generation down the road before faculty committees stopped bullying any TA brave enough to point it out.

      • Richard, please read again, this time for comprehension.
        This thread is about whether using humor is more effective than using fear in moving the masses.
        It isn’t about just humor, no matter how much you may want to change the subject.

    • “manipulating, mind control, and priming”

      These and the other modalities of fascism are vulnerable, and anaphylactically allergic, to good jokes. (I mean haha-funny, not polite-laughter, pastor-funny, jokes.) Comedy is inherently subversive, intransigent and resistant. Comedy cannot serve such a master as the climate movement; by definition, comedy can only undermine it.

      Does anyone have a link to the allegedly funny video this study used? I can’t even access the paper itself.

      My scientific wager is that the “The humor video” which “made people laugh more” is either pastor-funny (at funniest), or the jokes “that made people laugh” have zero to do with That Which Must Not Be Laughed About: climate science.

      • Does anyone have a link to the allegedly funny video

        Why would you look for a “funny video” when you can watch the late night “talking-heads” comedians most ever night during the week. They can teach you all the Political Science you need to know.

      • One of the greatest weapons against tyranny is humor. Would-be tyrants are almost invariably self-important and have a chronic inability to laugh at themselves.

  1. The green blob has been predicting doom since I was a little kid, and the common feature of their predictions was their error. AGW is just the most recent boogeyman, and has had a longer run than the others They never really go away, but most of the scary fundraising press releases are on climate change.

    • Yep. I remember thinking we were all going to die because of the ozone hole. And the coming ice age. And smog, as I recall. Thanks Time!

  2. Re: “this biting, anger-inducing satire”. There’s too much anger (and blaming of ‘others’) in the world right now. It’s counter-productive.
    I think millennials and progressives think their anger is merely a reaction to the world-wide trouble and strife we’re seeing right now. But I would argue that it is not-so-much the reaction, and more the cause.
    If you want to change the world you have better have more than a few clues about how to do it – and the knock-on effects your actions could have.
    “He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars: general Good is the plea of the scoundrel, hypocrite, and flatterer, for Art and Science cannot exist but in minutely organized Particulars.” William Blake

    • Personally, I find it alarming that so many people get their “news” from these “comedy” shows. Oh sure, people claim that they realize that it is exaggerated and whatnot, but do they realize to what degree? Do they know how limited and biased it really is? Do they realize it is not just the “tone”?

      I suspect not. And considering how hateful most of these hosts are, perhaps it is a wonder there is not more nastiness coming out of their audiences. I do not see satire. I see vicious malevolence. That sounds dramatic, but if you have millions of people listening to you, and you deride people to the point of dehumanization, the potential consequences should be obvious.

      • I know a comic who believes in the power of sarcasm but when I see him in action I can clearly see the vicious malevolence in action. He truly wants to destroy the people he is “making fun of”.

    • The truly damning thing is that anyone would mistake a gumming by John Oliver for “biting.” Oliver’s satire is as sharp as a mouse pad.

  3. From the abstract—
    “ Compared to control, viewing the fear or humor appeal produced greater climate change activism intentions,…” Let’s see, this expensive article should have concluded that maybe, just maybe, informational worked like expected. Not information, but fear and humor invoke activism? Then again maybe they should have tested it with a website like this–
    http://victorygirlsblog.com/three-ways-green-deadly/

    • The supplemental information had links to the three videos that made up the polling experiment.

      The humor video

      The fear video

      The “neutral” video

      In all three, the same goofball guy acts like a nerdy douchebag. I hope he’s not representative of SCTVs future comedy prospects. There is nothing humorous or true in any of the “weather reports.” Viewed in a skeptical way, the humorous video becomes mildly amusing for unintended reasons. In all three videos, the worst case scenario conclusions of alarmists, most of which are contradicted in IPCC assessments are falsely presented as factual information (see the Roger Piekle, Jr. testimony before the House Committee on science and technology for more)

  4. Unfortunately for the Warmunists, the vast majority of the humorous material as well as talent is on the Skeptic/Climate Realist side. I mean, face it, when your idea of “humor” is pushing a red button and blowing kids up who don’t agree with the Warmist ideology, then you’ve got no game whatsoever.

    • There are plenty of epileptically funny comedians on both sides, so I disagree that we have a monopoly on the “talent.”

      What we have, and they don’t, is permission to be funny on the subject of climate change.

      What they have, and we don’t, is ridiculous leaders. And ridiculous beliefs. And ridiculous quotes.

    • Scare them and then laugh at them for being scared! I remember doing that as a kid. It usually got an active response leading to more laughter.

      • I hate to reply to my own comment so call it an addendum.

        Algor and company freak these young kids out about global warming. Then co-called skeptics (I think I might be one) laugh at them for freaking out. They go nuts in mass and shout crazy arguments. Those/we skeptics laugh even harder than ever. They google to shut us up and counter our laughter and stumble into WUWT. Then they find themselves skeptical and begin laughing at the ones that are scared. LOL

    • Warmists have no equivalent to this joke, because it’s too funny.

      It’s not the FUNNIEST thing I’ve ever seen, but it’s still much funnier than warmists are allowed to be..

      Minor problem: “breath” should be “breathe.”

  5. So they blattantly recognize that all what they have is propaganda with its dirtiest tricks, appealing to emotion, suppressing thinking through fear and claimed emergency, endoctrinating unexeprienced minds.
    {slow applause}

      • It certainly can be different, as we saw in the last POTUS selection “revolt” . . but these are people who were with Her ; ) . . and the “astro turf” protests/marches since didn’t seem too effective/promising. Perhaps the more . . confrontational wing (BLM/Antifa/LaRaza…) of the Protest Party will be the intended destination of these fresh troops . .

      • Sorry forgot the caption. Jack from The Shining final scene with the caption “Still waiting for global warming”. A bit of humour and fear all in one :)

  6. It is troubling and anything but humorous that we have academics and scientists at all levels of our supposed education and research institutions spending a huge amount of time and money (usually our tax dollars) trying to develop propaganda methods to convince the general population of the evils of the capitalist economic system. That is what this is about; cut off cheap energy and you stop capitalism as we have known it. Though they try to make everyone believe no worries, we can maintain our economy using only renewables. The leaders of this movement, this new age religion, know exactly what they are doing. Some have said so. The Environmental Defense Fund’s involvement should demonstrate a clear present danger sign. EDF, a bunch of attorneys, who were probably out of work, making money by suing others and manipulating government to obtain funds. They now or were getting heavy financing from several far left billionaires. They will scream loudly if anyone else funds what they consider is the opposition. Did you know that the federal government at the request of various people in Congress passed through money as grants to various environmental groups?

  7. My children will be well inoculated for their impending indoctrination via both schools and social media.

  8. Remember when Johnny Carson claimed there was a toilet paper shortage – and there was.
    Later, Bill “Here’s your sign” Engvall provided the appropriate response.

    • I didn’t care for the music, but the lyrics were dynamite. The whole thing was simultaneously hysterical and terrifying. Thanks, Tom!

  9. “Here come de heap big warmy. Bigtime warmy warmy. Is big big hot. Plenty big warm burny hot. Hot! Hot hot! But now not hot. Not hot now. De hot come go, come go. Now Is Coldy Coldy. Is ice. Hot den cold. Frreeeezy ice til hot again. Den de rain. It faaaalllll. Make pasty.”

    So who are we to believe? For a final word, I turned to the greatest climate change scientist of all, Dr David Viner, one-time senior research scientist at the climatic research unit of the University of East Anglia, who predicted in 2000 that, within a few years, winter snowfall would become “a very rare and exciting event”.

    However, he was trapped under a glacier in Stockport, so was unable to comment at the time the Telegraph went to press.

    http://www.xdtalk.com/threads/a-brit-writers-wry-take-on-climate-change.275343/

    • people who found it funny were more likely to want to plan to partake in activism

      I suddenly, after reading your very neat piece linked above, I felt I could take part in activism. I could, for example, declare I climate alarm at 8 pm when the tamperature feels-like 24°C and consequently empty two bottles of beer in the garden while calling the local newspaper to witness this devastating extreme.

      It is still maybe 6 months I need to wait to break 24°C at afternoon. It might take a few years before the devious extreme happens at 8pm. Until them, I’ll be active only in searching my woollen socks. Where are they? It was -19°C in the morning.

      Should I move to Spain? I think I’m thirsty already.

      • “people who found it funny were more likely to want to plan to partake in activism”

        They wanted to become comedians too?

  10. “While the study focused on adults between the ages of 18 and 30, the researchers found that college-aged adults between 18 and 24 were most inspired to activism by the humorous video.”

    Anyone above 30, usually, sees through the sc@m. Anyone 24 and younger fall for the sc@m.

  11. If only it were only about taxing the air, and not about a small group of elitist psychopaths INTENT on controlling, restricting and ultimately eliminating nearly all humanity. It’s the biggest of big lies – the breath of life becomes the gas of death.

    Until learning one stunning scientific fact, I laughed off biblical prophecy, but how do you laugh this off?… the number for carbon is 6 protons, 6 neutrons & 6 elections. It’s the ‘number of man’ who’s mostly carbon. And if cash were replaced by a carbon chip, this would be a typical scenario: Robot cashier: “Present your hand for scanning, comrade….zero carbon points…put back the powdered milk.” The ‘number of the Beast.’

    Is there anything else that even comes close to defining the dual meaning of 666 so well, and even scientifically? What are the odds AGW is both prophecy and playbook? Is it worth mistaking it for simple greed and not an unspeakable threat to humanity?

    And who might be up for the title role?


    SEPTEMBER 19: Arch of Baal” erected in New York City

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2016/09/19/justin-trudeau-praised-un_n_12093658.html
    SEPTEMBER 19: Justin Trudeau Hailed At UN in New York As ‘Example’ To The World

    ‘Only the Truth Shall Set Us Free.’

    Does legitimizing the Lie by debating the junk science count as Truth?

    • Spot on, but… Most here are not interested in that esoteric aspect of these satanic ruling elite. That is ok though because they offer so much good disproving the nitty gritty. You are more than welcome to reach out to me through my WordPress site and we can discuss this further. Mark Passio has been vindicated as of late, especially with that numerological reality you just mentioned

    • Very interesting ‘coincidence’ on the number of Carbon being 6 with 6P, 6N and 6E. Sure sounds like a Beast to me, although the original numerology of 666 pointed towards the then current Emperor of Rome (Nero) who had Jerusalem destroyed between 66 – 70 AD. It should be pointed out that it isn’t Carbon (C) that is being signalled out for demonization, but CO2, (Carbon Dioxide). Although they do mistakenly call it Carbon. I suppose we could argue that it is Carbon that is being burnt that creates the Carbon Dioxide, so a very interesting observation. Learn something new everyday.

      Name, Carbon. Symbol, C. Atomic Number, 6. Atomic Mass, 12.011 atomic mass units. Number of Protons, 6. Number of Neutrons, 6. Number of Electrons, 6. Melting Point, 3500.0° C. Boiling Point, 4827.0° C. Density, 2.62 grams per cubic centimeter. Normal Phase, Solid. Family, Nonmetals.

      • “…although the original numerology of 666 pointed towards the then current Emperor of Rome (Nero) who had Jerusalem destroyed between 66 – 70 AD.”

        Nero committed suicide in 68, and Jerusalem was “destroyed” in 70, when Vespasian was Emperor . . by future Emperor Titus (et al ; ) . . The passages about the number 666 are in Revelation, which no scholar I am aware of believes was written before the sacking of Jerusalem, so I suggest the Earthling is mistaken ; )

    • Linda,
      That numerical coincidence is kinda provocative, considering how far this CAGW business has gone . . but the Book I read says “for it is the number of a man”, while I’ve seen references to the number six as the number of man in general . . Though there is the additional coincidence that a certain Mann is central to this demonization of the life sustaining gas . .

  12. While certain elements of CAGW certainly have become a joke, I don’t think most people are laughing in England (or much of Europe) this last week, or central to NE Asia, or in much of northern North America all winter, having been given a good ole fashioned cold winter similar to the 1970’s. In fact, most people I meet now think that this CAGW global warming/climate change is not a joke, but a hoax. No wonder Donald Trump got elected, when many people feel the exact same way, but don’t have a voice. Expect this sentiment to only increase as the doomsday scenario’s don’t come true. When electricity prices are truly unaffordable for the basic necessities for the poor, and a significant carbon tax on fossil fuels makes it near impossible to be able to utilize your own vehicle, then expect the gloves to come off at the ballot box. The USA election of Trump was the first shot over the bow in this war, but I would expect this to really ramp up as governments around the world try and use this excuse to tax ‘carbon’ to death.

    And getting taxed for it is the final straw that breaks the camels back. If a corrupt scientific community can openly lie and cheat their way into forcing this doomsday scenario down everybody’s throats, then expect a backlash at the polls on election day in many locations since generally the same people who peddle this misinformation, also are generally some type of leftist liberal/marxist with an agenda to take the wealth and power away from a sovereign people. We see this false information already manifesting itself in violence such as the Antifa groups springing up all over the western world claiming climate change issues as one of their key planks in their violent methods against society as we know it. It is time to put a stop to the deliberate and falsified misinformation put out by established academia in encouraging leftist antisocial behaviour, one example being those in academia who deliberately slandered Dr. Susan Crockford, amongst others.

  13. “Young people ….. believe in climate change”. The new religion of ‘climate change’ – it doesn’t matter about any evidence, it is what they believe that counts.

    • Well, I believe in climate change. Climate has always changed. I believe in it totally.

      What I don’t believe in, is premature mitigation instead of adaptation. I neither believe in a high-end sensitivity for CO2 doubling. I also find it improbable that humanity would reach 600 ppm CO2, even if Paris were implemented.

      Believing in climate change does not mean I believe in what political left wants to represent as means for global warming mitigation.

      • One of the tenets of the church of the environment is that any change that is caused by man is inherently evil.
        When asked what he would do about a giant asteroid that was about to crash into the earth and kill all life on the planet, he replied “Nothing”. His reason being, that the asteroid was just nature in action, and for man to intervene, would be the height of arrogance.

  14. “Young people have a huge stake in global climate change. They are going to bear the brunt of it, more so than old guys like me,” [said Profosssor Half Brain No Clue]

    But they have been saying that since I was young, and the brunt keeps on refusing to arrive as predicted. I’m beginning to think these guys expect me to live to a thousand.

    Time for Skeletor’s First Insult:

  15. Gee, if only the Spanish Inquisition had thought of using humor, they could have had one-liners like “We’ve been racking our brains trying to think how to make you talk, but it’s like pulling teeth!” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  16. Emphasis is on the young to clearly identify the targets of the messaging campaign. Spiked candy or veggies are also planned.

  17. Comedy worked for Al Franken…..until it didn’t. It also worked for Woody Allen and his adopted daughter.

  18. “they believe in climate change, ”

    Yes, so many of them sadly know nothing of scientific inquiry and simply “believe.”

    The joke will be on them in about 20 years if the climate hustle succeeds in destroying the carbon-energy society handed to them as the climate goes through a natural cold phase.

    But then will it really be a joke when several billion people across the globe are dying of famine and cold?

  19. Okay, this is an oldie but goodie:
    A communist, a socialist and a capitalist are neighbors of another person who suddenly is seen to own a cow.
    The capitalist goes to his government and asks it to show him how to earn enough money to buy a cow.
    The socialist goes to his government and asks it to give him a cow.
    The Communist goes to his government and asks it to kill the cow.

    Then all will be equal, you know.

  20. I find it interesting that people always say it is the children that have to deal with this. It reminds me of when I was a child and how I have managed to deal with Climate Change.

    The kids of today will have to go through the same hardship I did.

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