Earlier this year, the governor of the state of Washington declared a state of emergency, due to an outbreak of measles in Clark County, where anti-vaxx ideology has led to nearly a quarter of children showing up to school without their MMR shots. In November, 600 true believers showed up at the Flat Earth International Conference in Denver. Science denial seems to be getting worse. In some ways this isn’t surprising. Fifty years of science denial over issues like the link between cigarette smoking and cancer, and the reality of climate change, have arguably made a large contribution to the creation of our current “post-truth” era. Does this mean that we should turn to scientists to learn how to fight back? Not necessarily. By this I mean no disrespect. In graduate school, scientists are trained to become expert researchers, but almost none are schooled in effective public communication. Neither are scientists customarily asked to reflect on the logical or methodological roots of their disciplines. As a consequence, some come quite close to buying into a fairly unsophisticated view called “naive realism,” which holds that science simply discovers the truth. When called on to defend their results, some therefore seem tempted… Read full this story
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