How Does the Public's View of Science Go So Wrong?

Posted on March 4, 2017

Photo: flickr

The term "fake news" seems to be more and more common nowadays. People are increasingly disregarding the media and experts on topics and world news. Yet why would an individual reject information given by a professional that is backed up by data and research? Tom Nichols says the reason is because it goes against people's personal values.

If you're among those who don't believe that fellow members of the community are disregarding science and experts, take a look at the number of parents refusing to vaccinate their children. In America from 2003-2004, the Texas state had over two thousand kids un-vaccinated because of their parents' personal beliefs. This number jumped to a whopping 44,716 in 2015-2016! But let's take a step back here. Of course, it's not true to say that people don't believe in science. Everything from over-the-counter drugs to a GPS in a car requires research and data. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that there is an increasing amount of people who distrust "experts" and not the matter itself. Credibility and trust is something highly valued in the professional community. And for some people who want to gain the support, it is important to have both.

So, why can some people still ignore the data and information presented by a reputable source? The reason lies in one's personal beliefs. By giving information that challenges an individual's core values, you essential put him at risk of changing his entire belief system, his identity. This will feel like an attack and that individual will likely reject any information you have to offer no matter how reputable you seem. Let's take Earth as an example. The Bible says that our planet is no more than a few thousand years old. However, scientists say that it goes back billions of years transformed by evolution. Due to this discrepancy between the two sources, some schools in America don't even teach about evolution while other education systems have it etched into their science programs.

Overall, the only way an individual can fully accept another view is if he identifies and understands it. So before you go around disregard or accepting something as truth, be sure to do your own research and develop your own opinions!

Source material from Scientific American

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