Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science? - Deepstash
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Living in the age o doubt

Living in the age o doubt

We live in a time when all scientific knowledge (the safety of fluoride, vaccines, climate change, moon landing, etc.) faces coordinated and vehement resistance.

The access to all sorts of information sources and their own interpretations of what they research made doubters to oppose consensus of experts.

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We now face risks we can’t easily analyze

Our existence is invaded by science and technology as never before. For many of us, this brings comfort and rewards, but this existence is also more complicated and sometimes agitated.

Our lives are full of real and imaginary risks, and distinguishing between them isn’t easy. We have to be able to decide what to believe and how to act on that.

170

694 reads

Marcia McNutt  - Geophysicist

“Science is not a body of facts. Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.”

MARCIA MCNUTT - GEOPHYSICIST

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Rejecting what contradicts our naive beliefs

Rejecting what contradicts our naive beliefs

The scientific method exposes us to realities that are less obvious, sometimes mind-blowing, and even hard to accept.

When Galileo Galilei stated that Earth spins on its axis and orbits the Sun (in the early 17th century), he rejecting church doctrine and also asked people to believe something that defied common sense ( The Sun is going around the Earth, and you can’t feel the Earth spinning). Galileo was put on trial and forced to recant.

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Relying more on stories than on statistics

Someone might get a prostate-specific antigen test for example, even if it’s no longer commonly advised, simply because that test caught cancer for a person they know, but they are less influenced by statistical evidence and research conclusions that point to the fact that the test rarely saves lives and instead generates many unnecessary surgeries.

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The scientific method: a hard discipline

This is true even for scientists, because they’re exposed confirmation bias too (searching for and picking up only evidence that confirms what someone already believes).

But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them. Once their results are published, other scientists will try to reproduce them (if they have enough relevance and importance) and, being naturally skeptical and competitive, they will denounce them if they don’t hold up.

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Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth

Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge.

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520 reads

Reason and emotion

Science make appeal to our rational brain, but our beliefs are driven mostly by emotion, and our biggest interest is fulfilling the need to fit in.

This need to fit in is so strong, that local values and local opinions are always exceed science. And they will continue to do so.

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427 reads

Scientific thinking needs to be taught

The scientific method doesn’t come naturally, but neither does democracy. For most of human history neither existed.

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584 reads

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georgeb

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