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Communicating with Power

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Edited By Cherian George

Communication is ubiquitous and information is abundant. Political and economic markets are more open than they have ever been. Yet, there is no escaping the fact that communication continues to flow across fields where power is distributed unevenly. This collection of articles analyzes and responds to asymmetries of power in a diversity of contexts. They are drawn from presentations at the 2016 Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, held in Fukuoka, Japan. The conference theme presented an opening for scholars from various disciplines and academic traditions to engage with the questions of power at different levels of analysis—from micro sites of power like a doctor’s consultation room, to the geopolitical arenas where nations wage war, make peace, and spy on one another. The resulting collection straddles different methodologies and styles, from survey research to essays. Leading scholars and junior researchers have combined to create a volume that reflects the breadth of communication scholarship and its contemporary concerns.

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Chapter Fifteen: Disinformation, Economic Fallacies and Environmental Catastrophe (John Gowdy)

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CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Disinformation, Economic Fallacies AND Environmental Catastrophe

JOHN GOWDY



There is always a gap between scientific understanding of a topic and the beliefs of the general public. For example, the fact that species including humans evolved through time was widely accepted in scientific circles even before Darwin. No reputable biologist would deny the fact that species change over time. Yet well into the 21st century, in 2012, 46% of Americans believed that “God created humans in their present form” (Gallup 2014). For most topics, scientific illiteracy on the part of the public may be an embarrassment but does not have a direct effect on public policy. The current gap between the scientific understanding of the seriousness of climate change and biodiversity loss and public perception of these crises, however, is an important obstacle to addressing these problems. Many scientists see climate change as one of most daunting challenges our species faces. Among climate scientists the consensus is overwhelming (97%) that climate change is real and that human activity is largely responsible (Cook et al. 2013). Yet only 40% of Americans think climate change is real and human caused (Motel 2014). The other major global environmental problem, the loss of biological diversity, is also poorly understood by the general public. Although people show substantial concern for protecting specific species, there is little appreciation of the magnitude of the negative human impact on the non-human world.

For climate...

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