Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Why People Resist Science
Here is an interesting article, adapted from a recent article in Science. The authors discuss why some people resist science, addressing not just the American debate over evolution but how children and adults learn and how this impacts general views of science. For educators, the discussion about misconceptions is useful. Children (and adults) have difficulty with ideas that conflict with experience, e.g., the world is a sphere, yet objects don't roll away. The article concludes with a discussion of trust and deference to authority. Complex ideas often require us to trust an authority. When people do not trust scientists, they will be less likely to believe in scientific findings. Trust and mistrust can also spread (if you have two friends who don't believe something, you may start to question it as well), which helps explain recent figures showing major differences among nations in public acceptance of evolution. As the article concludes: "one way to combat resistance to science is to persuade children and adults that the institute of science is, for the most part, worthy of trust."