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The Mistrust of Science

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-mistrust-of-science

newyorker.com

The Mistrust of Science
Atul Gawande on what it means to be a scientist in a time of increasing mistrust toward the scientific community.

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The Scientific Mind

The Scientific Mind

The mind of a scientist cannot be that just a set of beliefs. It has to be an objective, open and experimental mind. A scientific way of thinking is always systematic, based on testing, building knowledge and factual observation.

According to physicist Edwin Hubble, a scientist has a healthy scepticism, suspended judgement and disciplined imagination.

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Not Trusting Scientific Knowledge

Though science has helped humanity for centuries, it is not fully trusted. Part of the reason is that scientific knowledge is incomplete.

It is often resisted by a section of people, who don’t believe in vaccines, climate change, or the man-made genetic advancement in crops. As an example, many families believe vaccination causes autism in children, and no matter what is done to counter it, the belief is stuck in people’s brains.

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Science And Pseudoscience

Many people from all sections of society do not trust in science, as they don’t trust the authority of the scientific community. The Pseudo Scientists try to debunk science by:

  • Arguing that the entire scientific consensus is a conspiracy.
  • Getting fake experts to produce information that contradicts scientific findings.
  • Argue using selective data, and using a small example to discredit the entire field.
  • Deploying false analogies and other fallacies that appear logical.
  • Setting impossible expectations and counter-arguments towards the scientists.

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"Debunking" Science

  • Funnily enough, a study showed in 2011 that debunking science actually makes the core belief stick longer in the people’s minds.
  • Describing why something does not work actually strengthens the conviction and provides more mileage to the scientific theory in question.
  • Talking in the negative about the so-called ‘bad science’ without providing an alternate explanation that is equally good only makes the argument incomplete and helps insert the core theory (however wrong) in the listener’s mind.

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The Healthy Dose of Doubt

Education has a countervailing effect of making people stick to certain beliefs and ideologies, and their minds unable to flow. They are static beings which will resist any new advancement in science.

Scientific endeavour is a never-ending process that can only be studied by an open mind that doubts all kinds of dogma, beliefs and theories.

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Opinion and specific knowledge

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“Entitled” to an opinion

If 'entitled to have your opinion' means everyone has the right to say what they want, the statement is true, but not necessarily important.

If 'entitled to have your opinion' means your statements are serious candidates for truth, then it's false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.

To lie is human

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Lying increases with maturity

The increase in lying is driven by the development of the ability to see the world from someone else's perspective. We gain an understanding of the beliefs, intentions, and knowledge of others.

The more we lie, the easier it becomes. Among two-year-olds, only 30 percent are untruthful. Among three-year-olds, 50 percent lie. By eight, kids learn to mask their lying by deliberately giving a wrong answer or making their statement seem like a guess.

Why we limit our lies

We like to see ourselves as honest because we have internalized honesty as a value taught to us. We generally place limits on how much we are willing to lie.