Thinking through problems

Science Denial – Why It Happens and What to Do About It

September 29, 2021

Throughout the modern world trust in science has continued to erode at dangerous speeds. From anti-vaxxers to climate change deniers, there is an ever growing movement of people that deny science at the peril of us all.

The shift towards a public with increasing lack of scientific literacy and critical-thinking skills combined with the proliferation of online misinformation and disinformation and social media algorithms that reinforce ingrained worldviews has caused a situation that is out of control.

On this episode of Point of Inquiry we speak with Gale Sinatra and Barbara Hofer on their new book, Science Denial: Why It Happens and What to Do About It. Sinatra and Hofer speak about their decades of research and work on science, scientific literacy, and how humans think and acquire knowledge, how “doing your own research” is explicitly not simply conducting a Google search. They also go into some of the psychological explanations for why people deny science and what everyone can do to help stem the tide.

Gale M. Sinatra is the Stephen H. Crocker Professor of Education and Psychology at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where she directs the Motivated Change Research Lab. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has been recognized by the American Educational Research Association for career achievements in research with the Sylvia Scribner Award. She resides in Altadena, California.

Barbara K. Hofer is a Professor of Psychology Emerita at Middlebury College and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. She received her Ph.D. in psychology and education from the University of Michigan and an Ed.M. in human development from Harvard University. She is the recipient of national awards for both research and teaching, from the American Educational Research Association and the American Psychological Association. She lives in Middlebury, Vermont.

This Week’s Music

“Bon Journée” by Chad Crouch / CC BY-NC 3.0
“Idle Ways” by Blue Dot Sessions / CC BY-NC 4.0

Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown

Jim Underdown is executive director of Center for Inquiry–Los Angeles, and the founder of the Independent Investigations Group.