I am reminded of Bill Whittle’s classic …

I am reminded of Bill Whittle’s classic essay “Tribes,” in which he describes the differing worldviews of the Pink and Grey tribes. The authors of the PNAS study clearly belong to the Grey Tribe, so they expect people to use facts and logic and math, and to be primarily concerned with what actually reduces energy consumption in a real, measurable, objective sense.

But the hairshirt folks don’t think that way at all. They’re members of the Pink Tribe. In their worldview, feelings are much more important than facts. How much energy you actually save is irrelevant; what matters is how good you feel about it. This is how we end up with hypocrites like Al Gore, who live lavish, wasteful lifestyles while loudly preaching the Green gospel to the rest of us. They feel really good about their own flamboyant advocacy, so it doesn’t matter how much energy they actually use.

The Ars Technica article asks: “Where did we go wrong?” I would answer: “You went wrong by not teaching people to think rationally.” The result is a subculture that uses magical thinking instead. Of course their actions don’t make sense. Why would you expect them to?