This great blog on The Conversation @ConversationUK explains why a presenting the facts about climate change is not enough to ensure people to accept those facts. This is not groundbreaking stuff, but it is nicely laid out in terms of Bayes' theorum. People have prior beliefs, and these will influence their response to new evidence.
It is important for scientists to be as objective as possible in conducting their research, but in communicating it is clearly important to take into account the subjective context of the audience. So can we successfully communicate our findings in an objective manner? Should we leave it to someone else to translate? Or should we be more open talking to people about beliefs and values as well as numbers and experiments?
In Years of Living Dangerously, Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, talks about science and religion hand in hand, and with seemingly successful results. Is this the way forward?
There is a strong tendency, particularly in those supporting a scientific position, to think that if only the facts could be made clear, people would follow the logical pathway to an inevitable and common conclusion.... This often results in a conviction that saying something slower or louder will do the job. Unfortunately, this is like trying to lift a mattress by one corner; there is very little movement given the effort involved. The delivery of factual information is a necessary condition to change minds. However, it is not always sufficient.