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Mapping the climate sceptical blogosphere

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  • Amelia Sharman
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    Abstract

    While mainstream scientific knowledge production has been extensively examined in the academic literature, comparatively little is known about alternative networks of scientific knowledge production. Online sources such as blogs are an especially under-investigated site of knowledge contestation. Using degree centrality and node betweenness tests from social network analysis, and thematic content analysis of individual posts, this research identifies and critically examines the climate sceptical blogosphere and investigates whether a focus on particular themes contributes to the positioning of the most central blogs. A network of 171 individual blogs is identified, with three blogs in particular found to be the most central: Climate Audit, JoNova and Watts Up With That. These blogs predominantly focus on the scientific element of the climate debate, providing either a direct scientifically-based challenge to mainstream climate science, or a critique of the conduct of the climate science system, and appear to be less preoccupied with other types of scepticism that are prevalent in the wider public debate such as ideologically or values-motivated scepticism. It is possible that these central blogs in particular are not only acting as translators between scientific research and lay audiences, but, in their reinterpretation of existing climate science knowledge claims, are filling a void by opening up climate science to those who may have been previously unengaged by the mainstream knowledge process and, importantly, acting themselves as public sites of alternative expertise for a climate sceptical audience.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment in its series Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment Working Papers with number 124.

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    Date of creation: Aug 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:lsg:lsgwps:wp124

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    1. Dan M. Kahan & Hank Jenkins-Smith & Donald Braman, 2011. "Cultural cognition of scientific consensus," Journal of Risk Research, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 14(2), pages 147-174, February.
    2. Poltorak, Mike & Leach, Melissa & Fairhead, James & Cassell, Jackie, 2005. "'MMR talk' and vaccination choices: An ethnographic study in Brighton," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 709-719, August.
    3. Brigitte Nerlich, 2010. "'Climategate': Paradoxical Metaphors and Political Paralysis," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 19(4), pages 419-422, November.
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    5. Lars H. Gulbrandsen, 2008. "The Role of Science in Environmental Governance: Competing Knowledge Producers in Swedish and Norwegian Forestry," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 8(2), pages 99-122, 05.
    6. Kevin Wallsten, 2007. "Agenda Setting and the Blogosphere: An Analysis of the Relationship between Mainstream Media and Political Blogs," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 24(6), pages 567-587, November.
    7. Sonia Akter & Jeff Bennett & Michael B. Ward, 2013. "Climate change scepticism and public support for mitigation: evidence from an Australian choice experiment," Development Research Unit Working Paper Series archive-47, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    8. Adam Corner & Lorraine Whitmarsh & Dimitrios Xenias, 2012. "Uncertainty, scepticism and attitudes towards climate change: biased assimilation and attitude polarisation," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 114(3), pages 463-478, October.
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