There is a tendency in societies to adhere to conventional wisdom. We resist challenges to consensus views, and may even dismiss those who do challenge them as conspiracy theorists... which they sometimes are. But perhaps we take that idea too far sometimes. Perhaps we underestimate the importance of having the freedom to challenge orthodoxy. We live in an age in which more people than ever before are lucky enough to inhabit free societies, but recently it has become “conventional” to take issue with some of these hard-earned freedoms - albeit often with good intentions. Even people who don’t follow the news cycle must be familiar with the concepts of cancel culture and de-platforming. In this episode we discuss the notion of questioning orthodoxy, with a focus on the environment and especially conservation.
My guest is Russell Galt, Head of Policy and Science at Earthwatch Europe, and previously Senior Programme Coordinator of IUCN’s work on urban conservation and Young Champions of the Earth Coordinator with the United Nations Environment Programme. Russell recently complete a Master of Business Administration at the University of Edinburgh, to complement his earlier studies in ecology.
02:39 Historical examples of heterodox thinkers
06:10 False consensus in the scientific literature
09:42 Well-intentioned exaggeration in conservation
12:28 Thought experiment on fighting lies with lies
15:18 The robustness of truth
16:23 Harnessing behavioral science
17:26 Attention-grabbing figures as a means of promoting conservation
24:54 Less well considered threats to life on Earth; looking at the bigger picture
27:08 Nature-based solutions
31:07 Romantic notions of indigenous knowledge
37:30 Important of a culture of debate
Links to resources