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Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?

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https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2015/03/science-doubters-climate-change-vaccinations-gmos/

nationalgeographic.com

Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?
We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge—from climate change to vaccinations—faces furious opposition. Some even have doubts about the moon landing.

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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 acces...

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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.

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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 it...

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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 influen...

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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).

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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. Uncertai...

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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...

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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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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

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, bui...

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.

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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Explaining Science

Explaining Science

There is a lot of misinformation about scientific knowledge among the general public. Scientists assume that by explaining science to people they can inform the defend science from public misinform...

Science Literacy

Studies prove that merely increasing science literacy straightforwardly is not going to change mindsets. Simply knowing more and lecturing about it is not going to convince the audience.

Scientists should consider how they are deploying knowledge. Facts aren't enough, and they need to tap into the emotions of the audience for fruitful interaction.

Communicating about Science

Strategy and rhetorician skills need to be deployed, as merely lecturing like a university professor isn't going to do any good: 

  • Simply explaining science does not tell the audience why it matters to them, and doesn't 'hard sell' the purpose or the motivation of the right information.
  • Communicating science without first gaining the audience's trust is bound to be a vain exercise.
  • Trying to debunk a myth by repeating it and saying it's false, doesn't do any good, as the audience ends up remembering the myth only. A better way is to reframe the issue.

Cherry picking

It is a logical fallacy and it happens when we choose and focus only on evidence that supports our views and arguments while ignoring anything that may contradict us.

The problem with cherry picking

  • It fails to take into consideration all the available information
  • It presents information in a misleading way.
  • It might lead to improper analysis and might cause someone to paint a misleading picture of a certain outcome.

The principle of total evidence

Also referred to as Bernoulli’s maxim, it states that, when assessing the probability that a certain hypothesis is true, we must take into account all the available information.

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