The scientific community and its genetic engineers need to incubate more scientist/narrator hybrids. Scientists need public support, and before the public will support various science projects, the scientific community has to embrace story-telling and creative communication based on enthusiasm, understanding, and compassion. If the scientific community wants public support, scientists need to take sides on public science issues while employing charismatic communicators able to connect with people’s values. Scientists cannot remain isolated while expecting the public to embrace new research. Doing good work is not enough.
“There is no such thing as a skeptic. It is not something that someone is, but rather something someone does. People have moments of thinking skeptically, but no individual is always a skeptic. Skepticism is a continuous process of being aware of not only irrationality of others, but also one’s own internal biases.” ~Knigel Holmes
“In the end, if the public is concerned about companies such as Monsanto, rejecting science and shunning scientific reasoning is counter-productive. Controversies within the scientific community are not justification to abandon science, but rather further reason to encourage scientific literacy and reasoning. Not only does the public need to be skeptical of scientific institutions, but also of those who manipulate the public by claiming scientific authority and credibility. Although claimed facts may fit a worldview or ideology, these claims need critical analysis. Condensed forms of media such as memes reduce scientific ideas to commodities, replacing ventures into scientific reasoning; therefore, the public cannot rely on echo chambers and social knowledge, but must have the inclination to question messages analytically. Analogical and empathetical reasoning have advantages, yet neither serves well enough when evaluating scientific claims. Analytical reasoning reveals the deception of fallacious analogies as well as appeals to empathy. Honing analytical tools may be demanding; however, the patience is rewarded with an injection of trustworthy information and a higher immunity to thought viruses.” ~Knigel Holmes
“I wanted to be one of those people. I didn’t have the knowledge base that these people had, but I had the desire, and willingness to do hard work, so I jumped on board as a moderator, and started doing my part to help communicate science. It’s only been a year or two, but I’ve already grown, and the future looks bright. Whether I’m seeking out articles to bring to people for discussion, joining in on discussions to ask different questions, bringing evidence to help support or refute claims, searching for new tools and resources, or trying to contact professionals to help join the cause, I really love what I’m doing. It’s fulfilling, and it helps me in so many ways.” ~Ken Wood
“GM corn is corn. It really is just corn. It is totally not at all surprising that it behaves exactly like corn, because it is exactly just like corn, owing to the fact that it is corn.” ~ Marc Brazeau
We frequently talk about scientific issues because they are important to us. Each day we encounter hundreds of news articles and blog posts talking about science. For many of us, scientists cannot seem to make up their minds and everything is controversial. If we take a look at any one of the polarized issues in public science debates such as vaccines, GMOs, or climate change, two sides both present an abundance of scientific literature. If we look at both sides of the literature, we see that there are reputable professionals on each side and the research on both sides seems just as thorough as the other. We all need to talk about science although we may not be scientists ourselves. Science affects us all. However, one of the most frustrating issues for many of us is trying to find the information we need then figuring out if that information is reliable and credible. If people with an extensive science background cannot agree on scientific issues, how can the public distinguish the good information from the bad? Finding and evaluating information online is frustrating, but some of these following tools should make the detective work a little easier. Through investigation, and by challenging our own assumptions, we can often find that there really aren’t two sides to every story.
A Toolkit for thinking about thinking Written by Knigel Holmes Photo credit: Alejandro Peters | CC Websites Debunkatron has an enormous collection of literature and resources covering a range of science, skepticism, and debunking topics. “For the fun of debunking,…