Monday, February 15, 2010

Denialism and the anti-science movement

In an effort to learn more about the anti-science/denialism movement I came across the term pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is something that claims to be scientific, but in reality lacks sufficient supporting evidence. I think that it is these pseudoscience type of studies that have led the public astray and given them false ideals, ultimately leading to the anti-science/denialism movement.

Watching a 5 minute commercial break during my favorite show, it’s common to see those and infomercial in which you’re told to buy a product from “so and so, a doctor”, but take a closer look, often the small print on the bottom of the screen reveals the truth, which is that everyone in the commercial is a paid actor and none of the claims are really true. This is the kind of information that the public is most commonly exposed to, and thus has led to the anti-science/denialism movement because the real science and facts haven’t been communicated or have been lost in translation.

A few topics that are often brought up in the antiscience movement are evolution and global warming. Evolution is a common topic due to the creationists that due to their religious views resist any suggestion or evidence that humans evolved over the course of many centuries. Global warming is another hot topic for the antisicence movement, and is constantly debated. Part of the reason for such heated debates over global warming is that people think that scientists are being alarmists, in order to call more attention and focus to the issue and their research. Articles predicting the cooling of the earth in the 1970s[1], as well as the misinformation given by the U.N. and other organizations on how quickly glaciers in various parts of the world are contributing to the denial of global warming. In the case of global warming, I think that the biggest cause for denial is that the public doesn’t want to change. They are comfortable living and doing all the things they are doing now, by recognizing the plausibility of global warming, they have to (well they should) in some way change their lifestyle for the betterment of society and the world.
Another contributing factor to the anti-science movement is that the public just doesn’t understand what scientists are doing and well. This is in part, is due to the inability of majority of the scientific community to communicate their ideas in a way that is understandable to the general public. The public doesn’t need to/ probably can’t understand every detail of scientific research that is going on, but we need to be able to communicate the general idea, so that the public is knowledgeable and can make informed decisions.

Scientists should try to bring out a little bit of their inner "Bill Nye The Science Guy" in an effort to better communicate science and expose the public to their research on a more regular basis.


1 comment:

    How the heck did I forget to put him in my post?

    And yes, I saw those articles about global cooling too...all that did was confuse people who already don't trust scientists.