1. Adam Thyer
  2. General Discussion
  3. Friday, 27 March 2020
I have long been frustrated, or perhaps more accurately infuriated, that so many people dismiss the advice of experts. And I think that the COVID-19 pandemic is a perfect example of why we need to listen when warnings are made.

Numerous experts have been repeatedly warning governments that pandemics are inevitable, so we need to be better prepared. But nobody wanted to listen. As a result, most countries were abysmally unprepared for COVID-19.


Here's a TED Talk by Bill Gates back in 2015 warning that we are poorly prepared for pandemics.

Even now, there are still numerous politicians and private citizens who are refusing to follow expert advice about how to deal with the pandemic. So I think it's essential for us to take some personal responsibility for managing our risks. Here's a nice collection of links to evidence-base information that can help inform your decisions. If you have other links that you think might be useful, please share them below.

But as frightening as COVID-19 is, I think it's important to recognise that we're also facing a MUCH greater threat, namely the destruction of the biosphere that sustains all life on earth. We are changing the climate; poisoning the air and water; degrading our farmland; endangering countless species; destroying forests; emptying oceans of fish; routinely exposing ourselves to countless toxic chemicals; and the list goes on. This can't continue. We need to listen to the experts!

More than a quarter of a century ago 1,700 of the world's leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this Warning to Humanity. Then in 2017, they issued a Second Warning to Humanity, this time signed by more than 15,000 scientists. But despite these and countless expert warnings from other sources, we are still hurtling towards a self-inflicted global-catastrophe that will make COVID-19 seem trivial.

So what can we do about this? Well first, I think we must take responsibility for being aware of the facts. If you haven't already done so, please read this Warning to Humanity (it's not long) and then do whatever you can to make sure that people understand the facts too. If you want more information, I've already done the research for you and presented it in this blog post which also includes links to a wide range of online sources.

That said, it's important to acknowledge that the advice I've given above is easier said than done. Even if you accept the seriousness of these problems (which most members of this site probably already do), persuading others to take long-term threats seriously is difficult because humans have a cognitive bias towards acknowledging short-term threats and ignoring long-term ones. So if anyone has any ideas, or better-still links to evidence-based research about how to circumvent this bias, it would be great if you'd share them because I think this is one of our greatest challenges.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Adam Thyer

I watched Merchants of Doubt last night. It's a fantastic documentary. Have you seen it? There's also a book which I haven't read yet.

Here's the trailer:


It's all about the powerful and well funded misinformation campaigns that are designed to create doubt about expert warnings related to health or environmental issues. Many of the so-called "experts" who are trying to discredit the science about current issues like climate change are the same people who sowed doubt about whether cigarettes are harmful. Yet somehow the media keeps giving them a platform with little or no scrutiny of their credibility.

They've become so effective that politicians, especially conservatives, are frightened to act on expert advice for fear of an electoral backlash. The documentary was about the US, but I believe the same thing is happening to varying degrees in most countries. I think this is one of our biggest problems.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. General Discussion
  3. # 1
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Ben Bailey

I've seen Merchants of Doubt a couple of times. I also have the book on my Kindle, but haven't read it yet. Clearly, these misinformation campaigns are a huge problem. And so are conspiracy theories.

However, on this issue, I don't have a clear idea about what the solution would look like. If anyone who reads this thread has any suggestions, or links to relevant information, I'd love it if you'd share them.
Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
  1. more than a month ago
  2. General Discussion
  3. # 2
Accepted Answer Pending Moderation
Hi Adam Thyer

I think that one of the long-term strategies must be to do a better job of teaching science and sustainability in schools. If we can instill in kids critical thinking skills, a passion for science, knowledge of sustainability issues, and respect for experts, that will hopefully carry through into adulthood. Furthermore, I think we will have more success persuading kids than adults because children still have open minds, whereas adults have already established their values, opinions, and biases.
  1. more than a month ago
  2. General Discussion
  3. # 3
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