The science of why we don’t believe science

Chris Mooney explains why facts and evid­ence rarely change the minds of people who have already formed a strong opin­ion: The Sci­ence of Why We Don’t Believe Sci­ence.

Fas­cin­at­ing and depress­ing. It doesn’t bode well for cli­mate change. It seems the only reli­able way to make pro­gress is to wait for those stand­ing in the way to die off. Which poses its own question.

If humans even­tu­ally elim­in­ate age­ing (highly likely) then this aspect of human psy­cho­logy—motiv­ated reas­on­ing—will turn out to be our Achilles’ heel. If we’re unable to rely on new gen­er­a­tions to pro­gress good ideas, drop bad ones and fix prob­lems then what will we rely on?


One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Laroussi Abdelhakim,

    I think one has to look at it from a soci­olo­gical point of view as well, we are soci­olo­gical beings and thus are under influ­ence of the group we’re in. Present­ing a new vis­ion wether with or without proof has always been haz­ard­ous. Ques­tions about the struc­ture of the group or how the group has to put itself into con­form­a­tion ( adapt­a­tion) will always arise. Also I think because people want to be part of a group without being remembered that they do so, (quest for con­firm­a­tion of the indi­vidual thought) there­fore some idea’s will be cas­ted out.
    Also, we have a gen­eral idea about sci­ent­ist an sci­ence (labs, rats, flash­ing led-lights) that make us won­der: “how could such an unkown, abnor­mal enviren­ment cre­ate ‘know­ledge’ usable in ““my”” every­day life? You need a clear example: the tooth­brush pub­li­city. Never had there been any­thing else to be judged by so many crit­ics on TV, that is to say out loud. ( At least where my TV is, tak­ing in con­sid­er­a­tion that it’s on TV). Also we might just be bad losers who won’t give in, after all a sci­ent­ist is only human, thus leads us to the pad of think­ing “if I came up as first” . Let alone sci­ence and it’s fund­ing.
    Our feel­ing towards sci­ence is one of hid­den jeau­lousy or envy. If it’s sooths us we become pseudo-scientists if it doesn’t we become critics.

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