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February 01, 2011

Blinded With Science

When it comes to climate science, some people out there just don't want to hear it. It doesn't matter how much data you throw at them. You can print pages of NASA readings and shove it in their faces -- they still won't believe it. The recent snow storm in their area is enough to convince them that things aren't warming.

While looking into the paranoia behind smart meters, NYT's Green blog today focuses on the science behind science denialism. According to one academic, humans are "hard-wired to reject scientific conclusions that run counter to their instinctive belief that someone or something is out to get them." Various controversies over smart meters, vaccines and autism, climate, etc., -- areas in which science says one thing, but people stick by their presumptions -- have opened up a new area of study for researchers and ... scientists.

Those who developed the theory of cultural cognition, including scholars at Yale who are writing about the reception of the science of climate change, convene at this Web site.

Whether doubting or denying science is a growing trend or not, it might be one reason President Obama touched on science and innovation in last week's State of the Union speech. Science education is in pretty bad shape. Some say the methods of science and the fast-paced nature of today's media are out of sync. Revkin on Dot Earth today reminds us of this great video about "communicating science in the age of style":

Late Update: On a somewhat related note, via Climate Progress, "A group of distinguished scientists today released a letter to each member of the 112th Congress urging them carefully consider the importance of science in climate change policy.

(image via Bad Astronomy.)

-- Brian Foley


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