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The Mistrust of Science

"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 Mistrust of Science

The Mistrust of Science

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

newyorker.com

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Key Ideas

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.

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.

"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.

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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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.

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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.
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We Love A Good Story

The organic and unpredictable nature of conspiracy theories had led many researchers to investigate the cause of the phenomenon.

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Collective Hysteria

Every society has its own, unique anxieties and obsessions, and the conspiracy theories that gain good mileage are the ones that tap into these primal fears.

Example: Many people fear vaccination of the children due to fears that the mass drive to vaccinate such a large population has some ulterior motive, like a mass medical experiment. The dodgy past record of the health care system, and the fact that the vaccination is free of charge, of course, adds fuel to the fire.

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Reliant on reputation

If you are asked why you believe in, for instance, the big changes in climate, you might answer that:

  • You trust the reputation of scientific research and believe that peer-review is a reasonable way of sifting out 'truths'. 
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