A Free-Market Energy Blog

“Cognitive Dissonance” and Climate Change: A Takedown

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?


  1. Mark Krebs  

    The “follow the money” syndrome also applies


  2. rbradley  

    Some insightful comments on this post are at WUWT (repost) here: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2023/02/08/cognitive-dissonance-and-climate-change-a-takedown/

    “… ‘cognitive dissonance’ is a catchall term for incorrect automatic thinking.”

    “‘Cognitive dissonance’ is psychological stress caused by having and attempting to reconcile inconsistent beliefs…. Cognitive dissonance only happens when people examine inconsistent beliefs. People who don’t examine their beliefs or question orthodoxy don’t experience cognitive dissonance.”

    “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.”

    “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 pandemics—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.”


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