Conservative Fear, Beliefs and Climate Change

Looking at conservative reaction to climate change analytically. I am reading Rebecca Costa’s interesting book ‘The Watchman’s Rattle’. She suggests that societies collapse when their complexity exceeds the current state of the evolution of the human brain to handle complexity, though a smart culture can defer this or even avoid it through insight into what is happening.

But in case of various historical collapses like the Mayans, the Romans, the Khmers she sees complexity of sustaining the civilization getting to a critical point at which knowledge of what is happening overwhelms the civilization’s abilities and knowledge. At that point belief systems arise often with human sacrifice or other magical thinking memes and the search for knowledge disappears in the superstitious mists. Belief trumps knowledge.

My thinking now, not hers but applying her approach. I think conservatives are distinguished in psychological tests be being far more fearful than liberals. Not lacking courage or bad people, but fearful about life, about change (that’s why they are called conservative) and have much lower tolerance of ambiguity. They, faced with the threatening and complex nature of climate science, may therefore be pre-disposed to retreat into mental citadels (Wilfred Owen’s ‘To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled’
.) and beliefs rather than knowledge. Their search for knowledge when it does happen is skewed by confirmation bias but generally they just adopt data proof beliefs about liberal climate conspiracies as this is mentally safer than reality..Just my theory, looking for evidence. 🙂

Done in by the proximate cause of drought but actually done in when complexity of the civilization exceeded their ability to handle it knowledgeably and they resorted to human sacrifice to protect them aka retreated into belief. Mayan ruins:


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict History, Conflict Processes, Environmental Conflict, Neuro-science of conflict and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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