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Scientific Consensus and the Public Trust of Science


Speaker: Matthew H. Slater, Bucknell University

When: Oct 26, 2018 - 03:00pm - 04:30pm

Where: EDUC 104



It is well known that large segments of the American lay public doubt (or outright reject) the best science available on a range of ideologically-entangled issues. Surprisingly, in some quarters, this rejection grows more confident as scientific literacy increases. What can concerned scientists, science educators, and science communicators do to improve this situation? I will argue that we need to take a step back and think more carefully about our goals for the public’s understanding of science and advance a more socially-oriented conception of scientific literacy. For it is only in the context of an understanding of the social processes underlying scientific work that the epistemic significance of scientific consensus becomes clear. I will close with some suggestions for shifts in our communication and education strategies on contentious scientific issues.