Why We Don’t Believe Science

by Christopher Paul on April 18, 2011

When it comes to climate change, inoculations, evolution, and other theories, people just believe whatever they want regardless of published scientific findings. Chris Mooney writing for Mother Jones looks at this:

Modern science originated from an attempt to weed out such subjective lapses—what that great 17th century theorist of the scientific method, Francis Bacon, dubbed the “idols of the mind.” Even if individual researchers are prone to falling in love with their own theories, the broader processes of peer review and institutionalized skepticism are designed to ensure that, eventually, the best ideas prevail.

Our individual responses to the conclusions that science reaches, however, are quite another matter. Ironically, in part because researchers employ so much nuance and strive to disclose all remaining sources of uncertainty, scientific evidence is highly susceptible to selective reading and misinterpretation. Giving ideologues or partisans scientific data that’s relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store.

In other words, because researchers strive to be more scientific, too much doubt is cast on the findings leading to subjective interpretations to fill perceived gaps or assumptions.

Damned if you do. Damned if you don’t.

The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science – Mother Jones via Daring Fireball

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