“Cognitive Dissonance” and Climate Change: A Takedown

From MasterResource

By Robert Bradley Jr. — February 7, 2023

“And here we are where Richard Lyons (et al.) are arguing and winning the intellectual debate, while the alarmist believers of a Cognitive Dissonance are stuck in their own … cognitive dissonance.”

Sometimes a rebuttal on social media is just too good to not memorialize. This one concerns a post about “Cognitive Dissonance” in reference to a 49-minute Apple Podcast, “Hidden Brain: When You Need It to Be True.” Its synopsis states:

When we want something very badly, it can be hard to see warning signs that might be obvious to other people. This week, we revisit a favorite episode from 2021, bringing you two stories about how easy it can be to believe in a false reality — even when the facts don’t back us up.

The upshot (see below) is that since we know climate science is settled and the verdict is a crisis (ahem), psychological explanations are necessary to understand why so many of us (the silent majority?) are not in anguish and demanding a transformation of modern life (like crying Peter Kalmus).

Susan Krumdieck, Research Director, Islands Centre for Net Zero, interpreted “When You Need It to Be True” as follows:

Cognitive Dissonance is a phenomena those of us in Energy Transition need to understand and develop ways to deal with in ourselves and others.

The first big dissonance was 40 years ago when the belief that scientific observations warning of environmental damage would cause the necessary change. I still want it to be true. But I look at data and evidence to determine what is most likely. And then I investigate how changes can work and how different people play a part.

Purposeful questions about assumptions is necessary. Questioning widely held assumptions about what can and can’t be done in what timeframe by whom means you are awake to facts.

This story about people believing alien guardians were going to come save them from the destruction of the earth should be of interest.

To which I commented:

I see ‘Cognitive Dissonance’ as the problem with climate alarmism and forced energy transformation. Waste, futile –and a mindset geared toward unnecessary ‘climate anxiety’.

But a comment before mine was the real takedown. Stated Richard Lyon of Lyon Energy Futures Ltd.:

Thanks, Susan. One of the first warnings 40 years ago was from prominent climate catastrophist Paul Ehrlich that “everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam by 1989”.

Since then, we’ve thrilled to warnings that the oceans would be “As dead as Lake Erie by 1980” (Ehrlich, 1970), that there would be a new Ice Age in 10 years (NASA, 1971), that England would cease to exist by 2000 (Ehrlich, 1971), that there was “no end in sight of the cooling trend” (New York Times, 1978), that the Maldives would be “completely underwater in 30 years (1989), that UK snowfalls were a thing of the past (University of East Anglia, 2000), that Britain would be “Siberian” by 2025 (Pentagon, 2004), that the Arctic would be ice free by 2013/2014/2016/2018 (Gore, US Navy, NASA), etc.

What you note as “warnings” 40 years ago are more accurately labelled as falsified speculations produced by climate models observably unfit for duty.

That is producing severe Cognitive Dissonance in an industry that depends on the hypothesis being true that there is a climate crisis, and is manifesting itself most visibly in the proliferation of what Lakatos proposes as “Auxiliary Theory” in his account of pseudoscience – “theory to explain the failure of the theory”

Bravo … And here we are where Richard Lyons (et al.) are arguing and winning the intellectual debate, while the alarmist believers of a Cognitive Dissonance are stuck in their own … cognitive dissonance. Message to Susan Krumdieck, who has bought into the climate alarm. Check your premises rather than try to find psychological explanations for the world not heeding the climate alarm. Start with the time series data with each weather extreme, as well as the satellite data on global warming.

Climate optimism, anyone?

4.9 56 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 8, 2023 6:36 am

“cognitive dissonance” is a catchall term for incorrect automatic thinking. As animals we have automated thinking (e.g., emotions), which makes our lives easier. As humans we can rise above the instinctual and change our automation. When we are faced with a situation where conscious thinking makes sense and our automated thinking tells us another thing, we have a moral duty to reprogram ourselves. Evading this duty is the source of much of our mental health problems.

This is why the false narratives of climate alarmism appeal to emotions (especially fear) and not scientific reasoning. They want people to make snap judgements and not consciously think about what is being said. The more knowledgeable people are, and the more they try to align their automatic thinking with reality, the more they reject these false narratives.

Rich Davis
Reply to  lanceflake
February 8, 2023 1:41 pm

I think you are mistaken about the meaning of the term cognitive dissonance, lanceflake. Note that I am not disagreeing with your other points which are cogent. Just that a critique of automatic thinking is not a critique of cognitive dissonance.

What I learned about cognitive dissonance a half million years ago in Psychology 101 was that it is the discomfort we feel when our words do not fit our thinking or true beliefs. It drives us to change our beliefs to match our words.

Getting people to say things that they do not currently believe is a great propaganda technique. If you get people to spout off about a climate crisis often enough and/or they perceive that holding this belief is necessary to be one of the cool kids, the true beliefs will evolve toward the words they say.

People do not like to have a self-image as a liar. As George Costanza said, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Rich Davis
February 8, 2023 8:59 pm

“Getting people to say things that they do not currently believe is a great propaganda technique.”

True, but not quite complete. Getting certain words or phrases to be used in discussion of a particular topic can by itself sneak unstated premises into people’s thought processes. Even when the words or phrases may seem innocuous, even uncontroversial, the unstated premise it installs (like a virus) can automatically result in a person’s thought processes driving them to a wrong conclusion. Indeed, the more logical the thought process, the more likely it is to produce falsehoods – the result of a perfectly valid logical argument with one premise being false.

It can be done without anyone really noticing, and a skilled propagandist may introduce such a false premise while making a statement which opposes the conclusion he wishes others to draw. I’ll give you my favorite example:

“I am adamantly opposed to any of these schemes to redistribute wealth.” Anyone spot the virus in that sentence? Anyone? Bueller?…Bueller?

It’s the word “redistribute.” No matter what my actual opinion on the subject may be, just getting everyone else to use the word “redistribute” installs in their brain the unstated premise that wealth is distributed in the first place. It’s a squishy premise, but the connotation is of wealth being handed out by someone or something – and that handing out being how each person gets what he or she has. Once people have the foggy notion of wealth being “handed out” (i.e. “distributed”), getting them to accept a “fairer” redistribution scheme is just a matter of wearing them down.

People create wealth by their own efforts, and in a sufficiently advanced civilization, its value is stored in a neutral medium of exchange known as “money” which can be used to purchase wealth created by other people. No one or no thing “distributes” wealth, apart from the myriad voluntary agreements among people of what something – a good or service – is worth in monetary terms. “Redistribution” simply means taking wealth (money or other tangible assets) from some people and giving it to others – and if those whose wealth is taken don’t like it, then force is brought to bear.

If I were the kind of person who wanted the power to forcibly take wealth from some and give it to others, I’d start with the sentence “I am adamantly opposed to any of these schemes to redistribute wealth.” The notion of “distribution” would be installed in every brain, and it would then be easy to evolve to a stance of favoring “fairer” distribution, retroactively – all without ever appearing to pose the threat I actually posed.

Last edited 1 month ago by Michael S. Kelly
John Oliver
February 8, 2023 6:41 am

Their therapist’s have told them to address their anxiety by “doing something “ to “change the world”

George Daddis
February 8, 2023 6:56 am

People think “in mass” – (a sociologist could probably explain why), whether it be old memes (no, not the internet picture kind), often taking the form of old wives’ tales; or even Charles MacKay’s Madness of Crowds.

(Off topic, I think it also explains the polarization of politics in the US today; everyone “I know” thinks it is true, so it must be; e.g. Washington DC or Hollywood)

The basic characteristic of the above is that actual evidence is not required to back up that belief.

Reply to  George Daddis
February 8, 2023 7:13 am

I was the only one not to wear a mask at a seminar this week which was primarily attended by faculty and grad students. A few entered the lecture room sans mask but were offered a mask and succumbed to peer pressure by putting one on.

The speaker took off his mask when actually lecturing so as to allow attendees to understand his speech. Most people attended the lecture remotely. I suppose they would rather stay home or are afraid to go into public.

I watched the professor who passed out masks subsequently apply hand sanitizer two or three times during the lecture.

People are mentally injured.

Reply to  Scissor
February 8, 2023 7:51 am

They’re morally injured. That’s why they can’t or won’t stand up for themselves.

Ron Long
February 8, 2023 6:57 am

For a good review of cognitive dissonance and how it is processed in the brain, see: Neural correlates of cognitive dissonance and choice-induced preference change, Isuma, et al, 2010, NIH-National Library of Medicine, PMID 21135218. The researchers utilized fMRI (functional MRI, which shows areas of brain activation for different tasks) and showed amazing correlation between continuing to accept earlier choices even in the face of alternative solutions. In other words, the CAGW crowd (of loonies) are mentally holding hands and singing kumbya, and are not about to mentally review their position. This presents two choices to “Deniers”: continue to try data and logic, or just beat the loonies into submission.

Reply to  Ron Long
February 8, 2023 1:34 pm

We have our own cognitive dissonance; we keep trying to beat the warmists with facts, when that plainly doesn’t work. Can’t work, given the warmists own cognitive dissonance.

Reply to  Ron Long
February 8, 2023 8:30 pm

continue to try data and logic, or just beat the loonies into submission.”

They’re the same thing when you get down to it. Cause you’ve got to force feed them the facts.

William Howard
February 8, 2023 7:16 am

isn’t it about time we stopped calling what is happening in the energy world a “transition” since it is nothing but a government cramdown that couldn’t exist without massive government subsidies – as Siemens just reported when announcing their $1 billion quarterly loss without a single order in Q4 – similar results for GE

Gary Pearse
February 8, 2023 7:38 am

Robert, cognitive dissonance (hmm… denial?) is the problem for the useful fools, but what about the elites (WEF, zombie heads of state) who are exploiting this opportunity to lock us all up and cull us down a few billion? They don’t believe the climate malarkey either.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 8, 2023 7:39 am


Matthew Bergin
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 8, 2023 7:49 am

I’m not sure that wasn’t a Freudian slip as I would classify most of the WEF minions as “TOOLS”🤤

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Matthew Bergin
February 8, 2023 12:50 pm


Jay Willis
Reply to  Gary Pearse
February 8, 2023 7:57 am

That’s interesting. Do these captains of industry really not know? The story of the emperor’s new clothes usually focuses on the honest impartiality of the young boy who exposes the exposure. But what of the emperor? Did he not know? Power corrupts and maybe a corruption to gullibility is common.

Gary Pearse
Reply to  Jay Willis
February 8, 2023 12:54 pm

WEF ‘elites’ know and don’t care what rationale is available. If a lot of people buy into the scam, why not use it?

Reply to  Jay Willis
February 8, 2023 1:01 pm

My perception is that a psycopath knows what words to use in order to manipulate people, and those words have no meaning to the psycopath. And I really do mean NO meaning. I suspect it’s similar with many captains of industry – they know what makes money for them but the consequences for others have no meaning to the captain of industry. And yes, maybe some of the captains of industry are psycopaths.

We in the western democracies have entered a dangerous and destructive new world where many captains of industry now make their money from governments more than from people. The people know that the effect on them is disastrous, but they now can’t fight back by spending their money differently. Governments just keep pouring the public’s money into the captains of industry’s pockets.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 8, 2023 1:54 pm

That is a description of something I realized decades ago, something I expect many people are aware of, regardless of how they visualize it. The expressed purpose of a large percentage of legislation is nothing more than deceit. The overriding purpose of that legislation is to give some favored few a significant advantage over their competition and the general population.

The general population is forced to be captive consumers with no other choices available to them for necessary products and services than to buy them from the legislatively favored few. Smaller businesses are made unable to compete because the high costs, either direct or indirect, of meeting regulations.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 9, 2023 7:17 pm

” …  many captains of industry now make their money from governments more than from people.”

Absolutely correct ! Government is a low-risk, low-resource, easy source of large safe income streams, private business not so much.

Last edited 1 month ago by Streetcred
More Soylent Green!
February 8, 2023 7:48 am

These people don’t know the definition of *cognitive dissonance.*

Cognitive dissonance is psychological stress caused by having and attempting
to reconcile inconsistent beliefs.

Rejecting *climate orthodoxy* or *concensus* beliefs (my terms) may cause psychological stress in skeptics, but that ain’t *cognitive dissonance.* Cognitive dissonance causes psychological stress but not all psychological stress is from cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance only happens when people examine inconsistent beliefs. People who don’t examine their beliefs or question orthodoxy don’t experience cognitive dissonance.

Last edited 1 month ago by More Soylent Green!
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
February 8, 2023 8:28 am

More Soylent,
So what do you call it when they have inconsistent beliefs but it doesn’t bother them? Stupidity?

Frank from NoVA
Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 8, 2023 8:55 am

Well, we can rule out ‘ignorance’, because they are aware of alternatives. It could be ‘stupidity’ if an incorrect alternative is erroneously adopted, but more likely its just being ‘evil’ where an incorrect alternative is purposefully adopted to bring about a nefarious end.

Hoyt Clagwell
Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 8, 2023 9:17 am

Believing something purely because you want it to be true, in the face of mountains of contradictory evidence, is more properly called ‘delusion.’ Stupidity is merely an easy excuse for why people indulge in their delusions. It is really hubris, arrogance, desperation for attention, and the conceit of the underdeveloped mind. They bolster their own sense of worth by finding the easiest path to kudos and pats on the back like a dog bringing back a stick without understanding that the stick has no value.

More Soylent Green!
Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 8, 2023 10:03 am

What is it? A prerequisite for working in the media or academia.

Again, it ain’t cognitive dissonance. I think the author is imagining what it would be like not to be in mental lockstep with everyone else inside their bubble and how much anxiety it would cause them. It’s classic projection. It would be very troubling for some. But the only way it could be cognitive dissonance is if the hive mind is real.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 8, 2023 1:55 pm

Being part of the tribe./herd.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
February 9, 2023 7:19 pm

No, I don’t think it stupidity, it is quite deliberate. Typical narcissist behavior.
I have an old ‘friend’ who falls into this category … it is simply prudent for him to hold incorrect views because it underwrites his retirement income.

Last edited 1 month ago by Streetcred
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
February 8, 2023 9:08 am

I was about to say the very same thing. To be honest I get frustrated with people waving around the “Cognitive Dissonance” label when they plainly do not understand what it means.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  MickWenlock
February 8, 2023 10:27 am

And especially when it’s largely them projecting THEIR OWN cognitive dissonance on those who have not subscribed to their unsupported point of view.

Of course, projection is the modus operandi of the left, so hardly shocking.

Sure is tiresome, though.

Peta of Newark
Reply to  More Soylent Green!
February 8, 2023 9:51 am

I’m with you on that..
Not easy, here’s a nice link

It still doesn’t explain it well but certainly a real pointer it gives is in the words ‘peer pressure’
aka Politcal correctness or, of course, The Consensus

Dissonance involves feeling guilty – I don’t see or picture that in Alarmists

Hence what I would assert to be going is: Magical Thinking
i.e. Self brainwashing
This manifests as Cherry picking, Confirmation Bias, Wilfull Ignorance – in turn Wilf-Ignor being beautifully exemplified in Data Adjustment.
i.e The Magical Thinking tells them that the temperature has risen and if the thermomemeter says otherwise, ignore and impose Your Temperature
Enter: Michael Mann and the Hokey Cokey Stik

Where guilt comes into it is that they know what causes the Magical Thinking = that they are Chronically Chemically Depressed.
Every drinker and other drug addict know that they are addicts, they know that its harming them and they all want to stop but cannot stop because the drug makes them happy

And there is the selfishness, there is the hypocrisy = something that all sufferers of CogDis are often accused of (see the link above)

The guilt comes when the drug wears off = the Dopamine is reabsorbed, the hangover splits their head, the dehydration likewise and the resulting low sends them off to get more drug

But there again, none of that really matters.
What we have is an acknowledgment that something is wrong, badly wrong, with people’s heads and vast numbers of people at that.

<Wicked grin> you know what I’m on about. Chronic depression need not be induced by a surplus of depressant drug (sugar, booze, weed) but by a deficiency in other things = things needed for bodies and brains to work properly.
$4 Trillion per year medical bill says the bodies ain’t working too well, what ‘exactly’ tells everyone that the brains are 100% – apart from: Magical Thinking

The sort of thinking that repeatedly says ‘Things have never been better’

i.e. Check where you are before ‘casting/throwing stones’
Fingers crossed you ain’t in a (haha) Greenhouse

Last edited 1 month ago by Peta of Newark
Reply to  Peta of Newark
February 9, 2023 7:24 pm

On the ball, Peta! The immense issues with youth mental illness around the world must surely be a strong indicator of their group-induced dissonance and brains therefore not working properly.

February 8, 2023 7:49 am

This is all true but it misses the point, or at least doesn’t discuss it. The alarmists *require* dissonance because “climate” is their Trojan horse (or “noble lie”) for ushering in global dictatorship. They just happen to have chosen an eco-dictatorship—it’s more all-purpose, chronic, and lower-effort than generating repeat plandemics—but the means is secondary to the end, which is to end freedom. Even if they recognized the dissonance in themselves they’d never make a course correction because their aim isn’t to be right, it’s to rule.

Reply to  QODTMWTD
February 8, 2023 9:00 am

Well, H.L. Mencken recognized the problem about a hundred years ago, but nobody paid attention…”the urge to do good is always a false front for the urge to rule.”

Reply to  slowroll
February 8, 2023 11:24 am

So that explains many religious urges, which otherwise are unexplainable!

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  slowroll
February 8, 2023 11:59 am

I think it was actually “the urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule,” but yes, he nailed it.

Also nailed it with this one, which is THE perfect description of the “climate” Boogeyman:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence, clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Ireneusz Palmowski
February 8, 2023 8:24 am

Why will winter in Europe be long?
comment image

Tony Sullivan
February 8, 2023 8:27 am

The mindset of while liberals that infest western civilization is the main driver behind all alarmism, regardless of the topic.

Bravo to Richard Lyon’s with his complete takedown/rebuttal to Susan Krumdieck.

February 8, 2023 8:29 am

Check your premises.

“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think that you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” – Ayn Rand

Steve Case
Reply to  Tony_G
February 8, 2023 11:09 am

Good quote, I’m adding it to my little file

Ireneusz Palmowski
February 8, 2023 8:37 am

Why La Niña won’t end.
comment image

Ireneusz Palmowski
February 8, 2023 8:56 am

The 25th solar cycle may be short.
comment image
comment image

Ben Vorlich
February 8, 2023 9:04 am

We’re not unique in the animal world.

o’clock, thousands of sheep had, by a simultaneous impulse, burst from their bonds, fields and dwellings and had been found the next morning, widely scattered, some of them still panting with terror under hedges, and many crowded into corners of fields, some miles from the fields they had been left in the previous evening. In the end, it had spread over 200 square miles (520 km2)
In 1921 the scientific journal Nature noted that the 3 November 1888 had been “an intensely dark night, with occasional flashes of lightning” and explained that “panics have often occurred, for sheep are notoriously timid and nervous animals”.


Curious George
February 8, 2023 9:58 am

What a discussion of an ill-defined term. Just redefine it to suit your momentary needs. “Marriage”, “free speech”, and “success” have all been redefined, the last one by President Biden after a chaotic withdrawal from Kabul.

As a second thought, what happens when the meaning of several words in a law gets redefined?

Last edited 1 month ago by Curious George
Tim Gorman
February 8, 2023 10:46 am

Cognitive dissonance: Believing increased CO2 causes increased temperature while seeing evidence that rising CO2 isn’t causing higher temperatures. Believing that climate change will cause food shortages while seeing increasing food harvests every year.

You can tell you are suffering from cognitive dissonance when you try to rationalize why increased CO2 over the past decade isn’t causing the temperature to go up. E.g. “the heat is hiding somewhere:”

Reply to  Tim Gorman
February 8, 2023 2:26 pm

I’m not so sure that applies to the general population. Many do believe, or at least consistently express, that temperatures are rising markedly. I have also heard statements supporting ‘the emergency’ by claiming that food shortages around the world are becoming more and more extreme.

February 8, 2023 11:49 am

Leon Festinger invented the concept, and he studied a case which exemplifies it. Which I have previously recommended as essential reading if one is to understand the social phenomenon of climate alarmism. The book is ‘When Prophecy Fails’.

Festinger studied an apocalyptic fringe movement who believed that the world was about to end, and in particular, what their reaction was when it failed to end as predicted.

The interesting thing is that the failure of the prophecy does not lead to loss of faith. In fact, it intensifies faith. And you can see this happening now with global warming. The less it actually happens, the stronger the faith of the believers, and the more violent the attacks on skeptics. There is a particular hatred reserved for those like Judith Curry, who knew the truth and then forsook it.

It is not encouraging if one is looking for a quiet life in a reasonable society. Because once the believers have firmly adopted their irrational belief, they will not let go of it in the face of contrary evidence.

People here have suggested we are approaching peak climate, at least among the intellectual leaders of the movement, and its possible. But don’t expect the result to be a lessening of the madness outside the intellectuals. On the contrary, expect it to intensify. As with Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and other similar activist movements.

Expect more mad proposals. A wonderful example in the Guardian today, where some academics have proposed mining the moon to obtain moon dust, which then would be fired into an orbit where it would reflect sunlight and so cool the earth. Or rather, it would stop the earth from entering the predicted global heating catastrophe, an early sign of which we saw last summer.

The faithful, predictably, object to this. Not because it is insane, but because what they want to see is the equally insane end of fossil fuel use and its replacement by wind and some of the sunlight that this project would diminish. Mining the moon is schismatic, heretical or perhaps anti-party, but in any case BAD.

What I am saying is, it will get worse before it gets better. And among the happenings as it gets worse will be more and more attempts at censorship and suppression of sites like this. And more and more attempts to do the impossible, like move the grid to wind and solar while at the same time doubling or tripling demand by moving to EVs and heat pumps.

To hear cognitive dissonance in action, just listen to the explanations of why this is both possible and cost effective. We have to believe that its necessary and possible, so we deny the facts. Just like the sect in Festinger

Reply to  michel
February 8, 2023 2:28 pm

Mining the moon is schismatic, heretical or perhaps anti-party, but in any case BAD.

Mother Earth, Sister Moon.

February 8, 2023 1:25 pm

Kudos to Richard Lyons, Susan Krumdieck is an embarrassment. The only thing I can come up with to describe her and others like her is a liars enabler. They are pitiful.

Pat Frank
February 8, 2023 3:53 pm

theory to explain the failure of the theory

There’s an infinite regress widely in view today: theory to explain the failure of the theory to explain the failure of the theory

Followed by the theory to explain the failure of the theory to explain the failure of the theory to explain the failure of the theory … und so weiter.

Invariably, the theorizers end up at the point where the theory advanced to rectify the chain of failed theories to explain the failure of the prior theories is just to kill those troublesome people whose attention to facts and reason cause the cognitive dissonance in the first place.

Examples are widespread. 20th century excrescences all typically included the notion of The Peoples’ Republic of …. while its latter-day manifestation is cloaked in Stakeholder Capitalism and public-private partnership.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Hans Erren
February 8, 2023 9:24 pm

The starting line does not give hope : «Cognitive Dissonance is a phenomena»
Phenomena is plural…

%d bloggers like this:
Verified by MonsterInsights