What Scientists And The Public Need To Know About Believing Lies

What Scientists And The Public Need To Know About Believing Lies

Poor science literacy can’t explain the misinformation crisis or the political divide. Getting the cause wrong means we can’t find the right solution.

Poor science literacy can’t explain the misinformation crisis or the political divide. Getting the cause wrong means we can’t find the right solution.

Exasperation. That’s a word you could use to describe how many scientists are feeling under the current plague of conspiracy theories and snake oil cures.

The belief that the problem comes from a lack of science literacy hurts both scientists and society. We cannot help the public rightly understand scientific findings until we rightly understand why they don’t.

THE STATE OF SCIENCE LITERACY

People understand science. With little evidence, many believed/believe (I was once among them) that not understanding science drives people to do or support things for which we have no evidence. It should be clear to us, from this example alone, that intellect and education offer little protection against mistaking personal impressions for a fact.

The premise also meant assuming those who knew less would trust scientists less, but studies haven’t found that. Though it may not feel like it, public trust in scientists is high, especially compared to politicians who they report distrusting most. We’ve got that going for us.

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Pew Research | Self reported trust and distrust

That all makes sense until you realize that our actions show that our views roughly follow the respective political parties. What people report, and what they appear to believe, makes little sense, so we need to find the pieces of this puzzle we aren’t seeing.

science philosophy politics social-media writing data science

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