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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 26 2011: There's a wonderful line at the beginning of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade:

    "Archaeology is the search for fact...not truth. If it's truth you're interested in, Philosophy class is right down the hall"

    I think this distinction is powerful. When your students think that science is attempting to take away from them their understanding of the *meaning* of the world, then they will resist it. But if they understand that the goal of science is narrowly limited to exploring the reliability of facts then they may be able to properly partition those concepts in their head.

    This is how professional religious academics maintain their personal faith. They understand that their work is an exploration of historical fact but their religious practice is an exploration of meaning. This skill helps them freely uncover facts that would otherwise ruin their personal spirituality.

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