What can the anti-vaccination movement teach us about improving the public’s understanding of science? https://t.co/X63W9O2LJz
— Bud Talbot (@Bud_T) January 10, 2017
Today was a day of lots of… ummm… “interesting” tweets. Dare I say it was a golden day? (#sorry).
But, before all heck broke loose on Twitter, I was spending my day finishing up a project evaluation report which, among other things, anticipated the dissemination of what will surely be interesting and important findings from the research team I’m working with. And, my hope is that the research team disseminates their findings in ways that are meaningful and accessible, especially to practicing K-12 educators.
It’s also the case that apparently President-elect Trump met with Robert Kennedy, Jr. about potentially working together around something related to vaccines and autism. Robert Kennedy, Jr. is a significant voice in the anti-vax community. As a parent of a child on the spectrum, this whole development makes me very angry.
So, given all that, Bud Talbot’s tweet took me to an interesting article about improving the public’s understanding of science. I encourage you to read it. Here’s the part that got me:
These [anti-VAX] sites get human behavior, while pro-objective evidence sites often do not. When looking at the anti-VAX movement, we see the power of personal stories and of presenting anti-VAX “science” alongside related messages that promote the values and ideals of the target population.
So how do we apply these lessons to improving the public’s understanding of particular science-based decisions? While it may feel counterintuitive, perhaps we should stop trying to win arguments using the traditional academic approach, with data, error bars, and p-values, as these risk strengthening the emotional appeal of anti-evidence, anti-scientific viewpoints. Instead, we can present data-based conclusions in compelling and effective ways, keeping in mind the connections and disconnections between human emotion and rationality. As the world’s population continues to soar, the importance of humanizing our messages, arguments, and conclusions is paramount.
Amen. At a time when too many people are perfectly willing to ignore science and basic facts, those of us who produce knowledge need to be better about humanizing our messages, arguments, and conclusions.
So, for that reminder/call-to-action, Bud Talbot, you are the producer of today’s Tweet of the Day.