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Sigal Tifferet

Senior Lecturer, Ruppin Academic Center

TEDCRED 500+

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Can people who deny science be educated? How?

Some of my undergraduate students deny scientific research with the following claims: (1) my experience shows otherwise, (2) scientific results are always changing, (3) each person has his own truth.
Is there a way to change their way of thinking, or should it be treated as a belief, similar to religion which is unfalsifiable?
If it is subject to change, how would you go about achieving that change?
Please do not answer the question "Should people who deny science be educated?", that is a different issue.

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  • Feb 17 2011: Of course. Begin by genuinely attempting to connect with and understand their point of view. When is skepticism healthy and when is it unhealthy? When does disagreement drive better science, and when is it simply a defense mechanism for our "pet" beliefs? Acknowledge that history is filled with bad science that has been replaced by better science. Educate them on how to read data and research, how to identify the traits of neutral, data-driven science and separate it from science that serves an agenda. Educate them on the difference between science and, as Specter put it, issues of law, morality, and ethics.

    You may have a rare opportunity to encourage these students to become objective researchers themselves.

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