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Changing Minds about Climate Change

Paul Thagard University of Waterloo 1


Outline 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.

Belief revision Motivated resistance Changing minds Multilevel systems Changing systems Conclusions

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Climate Change Controversies • Is climate changing? • Why is it changing? • Natural fluctuation • Human CO2 emission

• What should be done about it?

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Scientific Belief Revision 1. Identify issue and relevant hypotheses. 2. Identify relevant evidence. 3. Accept hypotheses that offer the best overall explanation of the evidence. 4. Need to consider overall coherence of hypotheses with evidence and each other.

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Explanatory Coherence • Use artificial neural network to model explanatory coherence (Thagard 1992, Conceptual Revolutions; 2000, Coherence in Thought and Action) • Represent hypotheses and evidence by neuron-like units. • Represent each relations between them by excitatory and inhibitory links. • Spread activation between units to maximize coherence. 5


Application to Climate Change Greenhouse effect warms planet.

Humans increase greenhouse gases.

Humans cause global warming.

Global temperatures are rising.

Global warming is natural fluctuation.

Recent temperature increases are rapid. 6


Application to Climate Change

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Motivated Resistance • Evidence about climate change is weak. • Humans are not the causes of global warming. • Avoid measures that would hurt the economy. 8


Emotional Coherence • Motivated inference: belief acceptance is affected by personal goals as well as evidence (Kunda 1990). • Acceptance and rejection are emotional as well as cognitive states (Harris 2007). • What people believe is a function of their goals as well as the evidence (Thagard 2006, Hot Thought). 9


Application to Climate Change Greenhouse effect warms planet.

Humans increase greenhouse gases.

Humans cause global warming.

Global warming is natural fluctuation.

Avoid oil limitations. Global temperatures are rising.

Avoid government intervention.

Recent temperature increases are rapid.

EVIDENCE

VALUES

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Changing Minds 1. Belief revision in the face of resistance often requires emotional change as well: goals, values, motivations. 2. Explanation of belief change is not just psychological: also social, neural, molecular. Agent modeling, more realistic neural modeling. 3. Minds are multilevel complex systems.

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Apply Complex Systems Theory? 1. Artificial and real neural networks are complex dynamical adaptive systems. 2. Variables, equations, state space, attractors, chaos, phase transitions, nonlinear dynamics, self-organization, emergent properties, etc. 3. But what does this add to explanation, and especially to planning to change minds and societies? 12


Multilevel Mechanisms • Human thinking is best explained in terms of multilevel mechanisms (Bechtel 2008, Mental Mechanisms; Craver, Explaining the Brain, 2007; Thagard, Hot Thought, 2006; Bunge, Chasing Reality, 2005). • A mechanism is a system of parts whose interactions produce regular changes. • Mechanism levels relevant to belief change: social, psychological, neural, molecular.

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Multilevel Explanation 1 REDUCTION social psychological neural molecular

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Multilevel Explanation 2 REDUCTION

DOWNWARD

social

social

psychological

psychological

neural

neural

molecular

molecular

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Multilevel Explanation 3 REDUCTION

DOWNWARD

AUTONOMY

social

social

social

psychological

psychological

psychological

neural

neural

neural

molecular

molecular

molecular

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Multilevel Explanation 4 REDUCTION

DOWNWARD

AUTONOMY

INTERACTION

social

social

social

social

psychological

psychological

psychological

psychological

neural

neural

neural

neural

molecular

molecular

molecular

molecular

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Causality A causes B: P(B/A) > P(B/not-A). Manipulating A changes B. A transfers energy to B. E.g. Smoking causes cancer. Social stress causes cortisol production.

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Social Stress Social situation (e.g. insult)-> perception (thalamus, etc.) -> emotion (amygdala, etc.) -> hypothalamus (CRH) -> pituitary (ACTH) -> adrenal glands -> cortisol

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Conjectures About Changing Multilevel Systems: 1 1. To change a multilevel system, intervene at all accessible levels. • Depression: use cognitive therapy (psychological, social) and anti-depressants (molecular, neural). • Cardio-rehabilitation: use drugs (molecular), exercise (cellular), diet education (psychological), and stress reduction (social).

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Conjectures About Changing Multilevel Systems: 2a 2a. To change a level, intervene on the parts and interactions of the relevant mechanism. • Change the properties of the parts, e.g. replace a broken tire. • Change the interactions between parts, e.g. put the chain back on the wheel.

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Conjectures About Changing Multilevel Systems: 2b 2b. To change a feedback mechanism, intervene on the loops. enhance beneficial

block harmful

positive feedback

economic growth

global warming & polar melting

negative feedback

cholesterol drugs

inflammation 22


Changing Multilevel Systems: 3 3. To change interactions between levels, intervene on part-whole relations. enhance beneficial

block harmful

positive feedback

group enthusiasm

group hysteria co-rumination

negative feedback

social control

peer pressure vs. success 23


Changing Multilevel Systems: 4 4. Coordinate interventions at multiple levels. • •

Avoid negative interactions. Aim for synergistic effects, e.g. drugs, diet, exercise.

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Implications for Climate Change 1. Intervene at all accessible levels: individual psychology (beliefs, attitudes), social organizations (local, national, global). 2. Understand mechanisms at each level. 3. Understand interactions between levels, e.g. social/psychological. 4. Coordinate interventions. 25


Conclusions 1. Belief revision is an emotional as well as a cognitive process. 2. Humans are multilevel systems. 3. Change requires interventions at all levels.

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Guidelines for Talks • • • • • •

Know your audience Maximum 45-50 minutes Maximum 25 slides Be lively and engaging Relevant pictures, diagrams Practice

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Changing Minds About Climate Change  
Changing Minds About Climate Change  

Changing Minds About Climate Change Paul Thagard

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