The Washington Post Hits An "Emotional Dead Spot"

Tim Graham writes at Newsbusters, “As Greens Slip in Climate Polls, WaPo Diagnoses ‘Emotional Dead Spots’ in ‘American Brains'”:

On Tuesday, The Washington Post’s Health & Science section was headed by a story contending global warming skeptics need a psychologist. David Fahrenthold’s piece was headlined:”It’s natural to behave irrationally: Climate change is just the latest problem that people acknowledge but ignore.” It began:

To a psychologist, climate change looks as if it was designed to be ignored.

It is a global problem, with no obvious villains and no one-step solutions, whose worst effects seem as if they’ll befall somebody else at some other time. In short, if someone set out to draw up a problem that people would not care about, one expert on human behavior said, it would look exactly like climate change.

That’s the upshot of a spate of new research that tries to explain stalled U.S. efforts to combat greenhouse-gas emissions by putting the country on the couch.

The Post’s designated guru was Duke behavioral scientist Dan Ariely: “We are collectively irrational, in the sense that we should really care about the long-term well-being of the planet, but when we get up in the morning, it’s very hard to motivate ourselves.”

Fahrenthold, like many liberals, finds it very plausible that conservatism (or simple skepticism about massive statist policy initiatives) displays scientific evidence of “emotional dead spots” in “American brains.” Get a load:

Psychologists studying the issue say that the now-familiar warnings about climate change kick at emotional dead spots in all human brains — but especially in American brains.

Researchers have only theories to explain why people in the United States have done less than those in such places as Europe and Japan. Some think Americans are culturally leery of programs the government might develop to target climate change, trusting instead that the free market will solve major problems.

One U.S. researcher thought television is to blame: All those TV ads have made Americans more focused on their own wants, she theorized, and less likely to care about the long-term good.


Ahh, it’s the old false consciousness argument — good enough for the earliest Marxists over a century ago, good enough for feminists in the 1970s; good enough for environmentalists 35 years later. Can’t go wrong with the classics!

And speaking of the Post and environmentalism, on Sunday, Paul Mirengoff of Power Line wrote:

This was a big weekend for the Washington Post. In a front-page story today, it exposed, albeit almost sub silentio, the incompetence of the Obama administration’s decision-making process with respect to Afghanistan. And in a front-page story yesterday, it reported, for the first time I believe, on Climategate.

Actually, I believe the earliest example of the Post “reporting” on ClimateGate is when Howard Kurtz mentioned the topic in his column defending the reluctance of the New York Times’ Andrew Revkin to tackle the issue (and linking to my post on the topic). This was way back on November 24th, making it yet another example where an opinion columnist breaks an inconvientent topic before the newsroom settles on the best approach to tamp the story down and/or the prescribed talking points. Or perhaps they’re waiting for the big “it’s ok, boys!” nudge from estimeed faux journalist Jon Stewart.

(See also: Kerry’s Christmas in Cambodia, the John Edwards affair, ACORN, and likely several other examples of news that’s well enough known to the general public for the op-ed writers to tackle, even though it hasn’t been “reported” yet. Outside of the Blogosphere, of course.)


Update: Not surprisingly, the New York Times hit an Emotional Dead Spot of their own.


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