I'm going to focus on the belief component of this question more than climate change. One interesting facet of public debate surrounding climate change is the underlying conversation that is taking place about how belief itself is formed. We're living in a time where those who argue in favor of climate change and those who argue against it both appeal to the irrefutability of scientific findings to justify their belief. However, much more seems to be at stake than simply establishing who is right and who is wrong based on evidence. Why? Research in psychology and neuroscience indicates that beliefs are rarely simply an understanding of facts based on evidence. Much more is going on. Peoples' beliefs are often inextricably intertwined with a person's sense of self-worth and their understanding of their place in the world. A recent study on what happens in the brain when beliefs are being questioned revealed a strong stimulation of the amygdala; that part of the brain which govern the fight or flight response. A chain of biological changes occur, priming the body to respond to danger. As a result, when beliefs collide, conversations are frequently underscored with acrimony, fear and anger. Given this, what can we do to promote healthier public debate about issues of global concern? That's a tough question. Perhaps a deeper understanding of how our brains work when it comes to belief may at least equip people with a greater capacity for empathy?

Added: Feb. 2, 2018, 5:51 p.m. Last change: Feb. 2, 2018, 5:51 p.m.

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