I had some family business at the other end of the state a few days ago, so I rented a car to drive out to Amherst. I rent from Enterprise, because from what I can tell, they’re good guys — and they’ll pick you up and drop you off.
The car rental guy and I were talking in the car on the way to the office. He had the talk radio on and was mentioning a remarkably stupid caller who’d been busted for a traffic violation while she was on the air — very funny, if you like feeling superior to stupid people (and who doesn’t?).
So I seized the opening:
Me: It’s amazing how dumb people can be.
Driver: Oh, yeah!
Me: Like those fools who think that just because it’s cold outside, there’s no such thing as climate change!
Me: Rush Limbaugh claims the polar vortex is a liberal hoax by people who want to “confiscate all our SUVs!” Sheesh. What an idiot! What part of “extreme weather” don’t they get?
Driver: I know, it’s incredible.
Now despite his noncommittal replies, I was reasonably certain my interlocutor was not a climate-change denialist, based on our previous few minutes of conversation. Furthermore, here in the Socialist Paradise of Massachusetts, most people are at least a little bit biased toward sanity. But the point of this conversation was not to convince him, but to spread a pro-active, anti-stupidity way of talking about climate. Maybe one of his co-workers is a right-winger who follows the FOX line, or maybe he’s got a crazy uncle — and our conversation that day helped bolster him in making a stronger point.
Take the initiative; begin by making it clear that you think anti-science denialism is ludicrous stupidity. Don’t let up!
For too long we have been playing whack-a-mole with denialist arguments. Well, fuck that. Put them on the defensive; make them explain why it’s not stupid to ignore measurable reality.
That’s how to deliver the message in conversation.