Have you heard about the Ted Kaczynski (aka The Unabomber) billboard in Chicago? The experimental ad campaign lasted a single day, and it seems to have backfired on the global warming skeptics at a well-heeled conservative think tank called the Heartland Institute. The image has gone viral thanks to hundreds of news stories worldwide.
The latest LA Times story is headlined “Unabomber billboard continues to hurt Heartland Institute.” According to the Times, at least one major funder—State Farm Insurance—already has pulled back from Heartland. Plus, some participants are pulling out of a late-May conference Heartland is hosting in Chicago. Other corporate supporters also are distancing themselves, the Times reports, including Microsoft in a statement that called the billboard campaign, “inflammatory and distasteful.”
Heartland officials are responding with confidence and the furor may blow over. After all, the group pulled the ad quickly, after the immediate outrage, and now says it won’t put up other signs in a campaign that was to have featured Osama bin Laden and Charles Manson, among other evil figures.
My question is: Could such extreme billboards have swayed minds? Could these signs have had an impact on Americans in the four middle groups we discussed on Tuesday. We know from Wednesday’s column that many are open to changing their minds.
My colleague Andy Hoffman, a social scientist who specializes in environmental issues, points out that this issue is larger than a debate over researchers’ findings. As Andy wrote in the Christian Science Monitor: “Far more than science is at play on climate change. At its root is a debate over culture, values, ideology, and world views.”
What values inform your view of global warming?
What is your reaction to the Ted Kaczynski billboard?
Do you think these extreme tactics change minds?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an online experiment in civil dialogue on American values.