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Why We Don’t Believe Science

There is a fascinating article by Chris Mooney “The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science“, which examines the conflict between inside beliefs and outside truths in the brain.

Before anyone jumps to conclusions, disbelief of science isn’t restricted to right-wing conservatives. Liberals do it too (e.g., the supposed vaccine-autism link).

The article discusses why we tend to reject facts that disagree with our beliefs, and how this is not always a bad thing. After all, we built up our belief systems over a lifetime; changing them willy-nilly every time a new fact comes along would be far worse.

But don’t despair, even the most hardened ideologue is capable of changing their mind, and the article discusses the situations under which this is more likely:

If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn’t trigger a defensive, emotional reaction. … In other words, you don’t lead with the facts in order to convince, you lead with the values – so as to give the facts a fighting chance.

For example, present the facts using an alternative narrative that appeals to their existing world view, or have it presented to them via someone who shares their values.



  1. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I’m a little skeptical of the science behind the belief of why we don’t believe science. 😉

    Tuesday, June 25, 2013 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  2. Mike wrote:

    What I thought was funny about that article was the fact that Bachman is who I think of when i think autism and vaccines. Typical, both sides are at fault, here are some examples of the right being stupid, and a stretch for the left.

    Sunday, June 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink