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Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Frieda is fighting Fox News on Friday

Climate activists are using children to avoid pushback. It won't work and it could create psychological problems for the kids


O kay, her name isn't really Frieda. She's a little 14-year-old girl. In an op-ed at The Guardian, she writes: “We dropped a banner the length of the Times building that declared ‘Climate Emergency = Mass Murder.’ Sixty-seven of us got arrested.” She's upset about the lack of news coverage on global warming, so she plans to demonstrate in front of the Fox News building in New York on Friday.

Well, everyone needs a hobby. But what's the deal with activists using children as advocates for climate change? Everyone remembers what being a kid was like: how everything seemed like an emergency, how no one ever listened, and worst of all how everyone kept putting words in our mouths. No matter what you said, the grownups would twist it around to make it mean whatever they wanted.

That's what the warmers are doing. You probably heard about Greta Thunberg, the Swedish girl who got nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for the idea of a “climate strike.” She's sixteen and therefore un-criticizable as well.

Recently The Guardian officially renamed global warming as “global heating” and climate change as “climate emergency,” but even that wasn't enough. There's also something called “climate apartheid.” The UN goes further: “climate genocide” is coming, and Google's Climate Holocaust page says there are “huge numbers of deaths already from intentional carbon burning and climate change despite knowledge of the consequences.” They're claiming that up to ten billion people will die from global warming this century, more than the current population of the planet.

These are all attempts to reduce global warming to a moral issue in order to avoid discussing the science and demand immediate action. Nobody would consider debating scientific evidence with a little kid; we all recognize that they're incapable of understanding it. As one commentator remarked, their purpose is to act as human shields: to prevent discussion.

The warmers have failed Argumentation 101: when you encounter skepticism, you're supposed to address the skeptics' objections and try to get them on board, not censor their opinions and accuse them of being mass murderers causing the next Holodomor. It's such an obvious political ploy that it practically guarantees that the people they most need to convince will just scoff.

Most teenagers are still at what King and Kitchener, in their insightful 1994 book Developing Reflective Judgment: Understanding and Promoting Intellectual Growth and Critical Thinking in Adolescents and Adults, would classify as the pre-reflective stage of intellectual development: stages 1 and 2.

According to this theory, which seems to be well supported by test results, people at this stage don't distinguish between well-structured problems such as “What is the square root of 64” and ill-structured problems like “Did the Egyptians build the pyramids?” or “Are sugar substitutes harmful to ingest?”

Wolcott and Lynch elaborated the theory, saying that students in stage 1 exhibit ‘dualistic thinking,’ which is characterized by:

  1. Jumping to conclusions.
  2. Not recognizing their own biases, but quick to accuse others of bias.
  3. Ignoring counter-evidence and contradictions.
  4. Selecting evidence based on pre-judgment.
  5. Arguing against opponent's position using opinions.
  6. Equating personal opinion with evidence.

In this stage, students rely on authority figures to form conclusions for them, and they view all problems as if they can be solved with a high degree of certainty and completeness. They tend to act as if those who hold alternative conclusions must be stupid, corrupted, or immoral. Not all kids think this way, but it describes exactly how many global warming activists talk. In fact, it describes much of the Twitterverse and perhaps many employees at Google as well.

King and Kitchener say that people at this stage may be great at tasks involving formal logic, like computer programming and chess, but formal logic is insufficient for ill-structured problems because solving those requires the ability to evaluate the limitations of conflicting information, acknowledge one's own limitations, and identify beliefs and assumptions that may interfere with making a good decision. Adults recognize that the degree of uncertainty of the data and internal biases are unknown, and the conclusion must be subject to revision as new evidence comes in.

As smart as the person may be, the transition to more complex stages of judgment doesn't occur automatically. It only happens when students are forced to consider ill-structured problems through experience and are taught the intellectual skills to handle them. The authors show that these skills (which they distinguish from procedural schemas like critical thinking) increase with education and with age up to at least the early forties.

In earlier times, educators intuitively recognized that a broad education encompassing history, philosophy, literature, languages, math, and science was necessary to produce citizens able to deal with complex social and technical issues. Each of these, when taught rigorously, can provide scaffolding to promote intellectual development. But starting in the 1960s, as the scope of education narrowed, students began to graduate without being exposed to ill-structured problems. So we see more college students still stuck in stages 1 and 2 (the highest level is 7).

Whether with climate change or gun control, activists think that using children to promote their message will work because everyone believes kids are earnest. But when we see children talking about “a future of hellish temperature, catastrophic droughts and storms, and millions of deaths” it's evidence that they're being stressed way beyond their ability to cope.

If you read that kid's article, you can see the distress she is experiencing. Whatever they're teaching them, it's having a traumatic effect. A fourteen-year-old doesn't have the capacity to evaluate the issues. Is it right to traumatize children by telling them the world is going to end because everyone around them is committing mass murder?

No it's not. By deliberately terrifying little kids with a simplistic argument, they're revealing their own dualistic thinking and their lack of empathy. And by manipulating people who can't understand what's happening, they're convincing skeptics of the emptiness of their cause.


jun 26 2019, 8:50 am. last edited jul 07 2019, 6:34 am


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