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Sigal Tifferet

Senior Lecturer, Ruppin Academic Center

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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 24 2011: Not enough words allowed to say it all at once, but I will keep it short.
    My answer: I think you asked the wrong question.
    Specifically, can all people who deny science be INFLUENCED? If that was the question, I would give a resounding yes.
    You said: "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."
    You would try to get them to disbelieve their own experiences, rather than over time let them experience the truth you shared with them(if it turns out to be an absolute truth)?
    Do you argue that scientific results(theories) aren't always changing?Are atoms the smallest? Protons? Quarks? What happens when you bring in string theory..? Results can be looked at from more than one way, and support more than one answer, and nothing can be more frustrating. I understand their frustration.
    Each person does have their own truth. We all see through different eyes, our senses(as in the quote in previous post) are possibly inadequate to share what is all around us, or perhaps they are all unique. One of the few fundamental truths, of an absolute certainty, is that we shall all one day die. Let them have their own truth, because none of us truly and absolutely know what we do after death.. and although you try to arm them for this life, maybe they are arming themselves for whatever is next, if anything.

    I don't mean to sound too critical or maybe cynical, I would just say maybe you expect too much of yourself or others. You see the beauty in what you are trying to teach them(I hope), and you want nothing other than to communicate that beauty. Perhaps just putting in their head that that beauty may exist will one day lead to a revelation you will never get to see, but do you do it for that reward, the knowledge that you have changed someone?

    If you are teaching right, only one person may be changed, but they may change the world..

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