Making Climate-Science Communication Evidence-Based — All the Way Down

Scientists and science communicators have appropriately turned to the science of science communication for guidance in overcoming public conflict over climate change. The value of the knowledge that this science can impart, however, depends on it being used scientifically. It is a mistake to believe that either social scientists or science communicators can intuit effective communication strategies by simply consulting compendiums of psychological mechanisms. Social scientists have used empirical methods to identify which of the myriad mechanisms that could plausibly be responsible for public conflict over climate change actually are. Science communicators should now use valid empirical methods to identify which plausible real-world strategies for counteracting those mechanisms actually work. Collaboration between social scientists and communicators on evidence-based field experiments is the best means of using and expanding our knowledge of how to communicate climate science.