How to get women. To vote for you. If you are a politician.

Joireman with students in his lab at WSU. (Photos by Rebecca Phillips, WSU)

Joireman with students in his lab at WSU. (Photos by Rebecca Phillips, WSU)

There are a lot of possible answers to that question, but whatever set of answers you like, you have to account for change. Certain social justice or reproductive rights issues are less important now than they they have been in the past, not because the issues are less important, but because they are more settled. A new change you have to account for now, for a certain voting bloc of women, is Climate Change. Science 2.0 has a summary of a recent study — Don’t Believe In Global Warming? Women Won’t Vote For You — suggesting that for some, climate change has become a woman’s issue.

The study is by Jeff Joireman and Richie Liu is “Future-oriented women will pay to Reduce Global Warming: Mediation via political orientation, Environmental Values, and Belief in Global Warming.” and here is the abstract:

The present work addresses calls to clarify the role of gender in climate change mitigation and adaptation by testing a theoretical model linking gender and concern with future and immediate consequences to mitigation actions through political orientation, environmental values, and belief in global warming (gender x time orientation ? liberal political orientation ? environmental values ? belief in global warming ? willingness to pay to reduce global warming). Drawing on a sample of 299 U.S. residents, structural equation modeling and bootstrapped indirect effects testing revealed support for the model. Interaction analyses further revealed that women scored higher than men on model variables among respondents who routinely consider the future consequences of their actions, but the gender difference was reversed among those low in concern with future consequences (on liberal political orientation and willingness to pay to reduce global warming). Practical and theoretical implications are considered.

The study has a press release by Rebecca Phillips:

Politicians who discredit global warming risk losing a big chunk of the female vote….women who consider the long-term consequences of their actions are more likely to adopt a liberal political orientation and take consumer and political steps to reduce global warming.

Jeff Joireman, associate professor of marketing at Washington State University, demonstrated that “future-oriented” women are the voting bloc most strongly motivated to invest money, time and taxes toward reducing global warming.

Joireman said belief in global warming is positively linked to outdoor temperatures, so in light of recent record-breaking heat, people – especially future-oriented women – may have climate change on their minds during next week’s midterm elections.

September was the hottest on record in 135 years, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects 2014 will likely break the record for hottest year.

This year’s political contests are also heated, with environmental ads surging to record levels. More than 125,000 political spots cite energy, climate change and the environment – more than all other issues except health care and jobs – according to an analysis by Kantar Media/CMAG.

Motivating the wider populace to engage and take action on global warming, however, is an ongoing challenge, said Joireman.
“Decisions that affect global warming pose a dilemma between what is good for individuals in the ‘here and now’ versus what is good for society and the environment ‘in the distant future,’” he said.
“Unfortunately, it can take several decades for the lay public and lawmakers to realize there is a problem that needs fixing,” he said. “This is clearly the case with global warming, as the consequences of our current lifestyle are not likely to be fully realized for another 25 to 50 years.”

…Joireman investigated how the time element contributes to people’s willingness to address climate change.

For the study, he focused on the personality trait called “consideration of future consequences.”

Those who score high on the trait scale tend to be very worried about the future impacts of their actions, while those with lower scores are more concerned with immediate consequences.

… his team polled 299 U.S. residents, with an age range of 18-75. Forty-eight percent of the respondents were female and 80 percent were Caucasian.

Women scored higher than men on liberal political orientation, environmental values, belief in global warming and willingness to pay to reduce global warming when their concern with future consequences was high.

But it wasn’t a simple gender difference. Women scored lower than men on liberal political orientation and willingness to pay when their concern with future consequences was low.

Joireman said a specific chain of influences makes future-oriented women more likely to take action. First, they are more politically liberal.

Liberals are more likely to value the environment, which makes them more likely to believe in global warming, he said. All together, these effects lead to a willingness to pay more in goods, services and extra taxes to help mitigate climate change.

“Future-oriented women, for example, might be more willing to pay higher prices for fuel-efficient cars, alternative forms of transportation and energy-efficient appliances. They might also eat less meat – all to help lower greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

The question for environmental advocates now, said Joireman, is to “figure out how to motivate all people to engage in behaviors that reduce global warming. To be effective, we will likely need to tailor persuasive messages to appeal to the consequences people value.
“If people are not worried about future consequences, we have to try to appeal to their more immediate concerns,” he said, “like encouraging them to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle so they can instantly start saving money on gas.”

Freedom of speech means sometimes you shut up

There have been a lot of discussions lately about freedom of speech. Some of this has centered around the question: Are we hurting the Nazis (Golden Dawn) in Greece by signing and circulating a petition to ask WordPress to take down their web site? (More on this below, there have been interesting developments.) What about (intentionally) offensive comedians, hired to perform at conventions and conferences? Are we right to get mad at the organizers for organizing that, or do we just assume that somebody out there finds it funny, so we should just back off and maybe go sit by the pool for a while or something? (You need to know what satire is to really understand.)

Often, people jump into any discussion where it looks like speech is being questioned, silenced, affected in any way, dare I say ‘repressed,’ with strong admonitions that at all costs one must not interfere with anyone’s freedom of expression. Those who jump in first and hardest are often lost causes. No amount of discussion, no slew of examples, no pile of evidence, no plethora of historical facts will talk them down from the position that all speech must be protected at all times no matter what the speech is, who is saying it, the context in which it is said, its consequences, how it is being “said,” or anything. Not only that, but that which damages or represses speech is generally over-defined to include any call for putting a lid of any kind on any thing.

Those people, with their blind rage against repression, need to do one thing: Shut up. Continue reading

A question for you about humanism, atheism, skepticism, and politics

This issue, for various reasons, is on my mind lately, and a current news story focuses the question. The Center for Inquiry has issued a statement urging the “Obama Administration Not To Retreat Any Further on HHS Regulation.” This pertains to the recent dustup over reproductive health services (in particular birth control).

From the CFI:

On Friday, Feb. 10, the Obama Administration announced that it would continue to require health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services, such as birth control, without charging a co-payment. However, it indicated that it would allow religiously affiliated employers not to offer contraceptive coverage directly—although their insurers would still have to offer such coverage.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is pleased that the Obama Administration has continued to hold firm to the principle that employees must have access to contraceptive services as part of any employer-sponsored health plan and has decided to keep in place the substance of guidelines that require health insurance providers and organizations providing health care plans to cover preventive health services without charging a co-payment. …

With regards to Advocasy, the CFI makes this statement about itself: “The Center for Inquiry advocates for science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values…” and does so via a number of programs, and the mission of the CFI is stated as “…to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

Here are my questoins: Is something like funding of birth control a political issue? Is it the proper role of an organization like CFI to engage in political issues, and if so, is there some subset of issues they should leave alone vs. focus on? What about other organizations with a somewhat different mission, such as JREF?

In short, do Secular Humanism, Skepticism, other Secular movements or groups, or Atheism have a Political Agenda? Are these movements politically agnostic? Are the goals and philsophies of these organizaitons incompatible with certain political orientations?

Why do I ask? Because in a few weeks I’m going to be engaged in a debate about this topic and I’d like to know what you think about it.

Discordant Democrats vs. Republican Dittoheads

I was disturbed by a recent discussion on my favorite cable TV news channel. Anchors and pundits were discussing the different approaches used by the Republican vs. Democratic Party in the heath care reform fight. An anchor was pressing the two guests about this difference in strategy, challenging them with the idea that the Republicans were better at this sort of thing because they were coordinated and in lockstep. The word “lockstep” was used. Every single Republican will vote the same exact way on the health care reform bill (against health care). The Democrats, on the other hand, will be more diverse in their voting patterns and are currently more diverse in their arguments and positions on various aspects of each issue. This was clearly and unquestionably seen by these youngsters (I think everyone in the conversation was under 40) as a sign of weakness in the Democratic Party and strength in the Republican Party. Lockstep = good. Diversity of opinion and open, rational dialog = bad.

Continue reading