Rejecting Science Part 2: Critical Thinking, Shareable Content and Uncertainty
MAR 30
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In part 2 of The Great Rejection, Peter Brindley and Tim Caulfield return to continue their discussion of misinformation in the world of health science. This episode examines how to teach the public to think critically, how to deal with uncertainty as a clinician and how to better understand the pros and cons of transparency.

How do we teach science in an ever-expanding world of knowledge and information?

Tim suggests going back to first principles and reinforcing to the public that science is a process. Secondly, Tim highlights how basic educational tools can make a big difference when teaching the public to cut through the noise. Moreover, creating engaging content with accurate messaging can help turn the tide on misinformation in the public realm.

This brings Tim and Peter to the idea of uncertainty and how it sits with the public. The research suggests that the public wants the scientific community to be honest about uncertainty. Reassuringly, the same research tells us that by being honest, an institution or medical body does not lose any credibility. Tim points out the incredible uptake of mask wearing in some countries. This is despite misinformation being disseminated online, an indication of the willingness to acknowledge uncertainty and still act in accordance with advice.

Tim discusses the downsides of population engagement.

Whilst transparency is positive on its own, it may not achieve the aims originally intended. Tim highlights public reactions to literature retractions, medical debates, and conflicting results as an example of scientific transparency being counterproductive. However, that is science! And it is messy – as such it does not always lead to good, especially in the short term. However, Tim contends that whilst the ‘backfire effect’ (the negative ramifications of debunking scientific claims) exists, the real-world implications are small. Therefore, scientists and medical professionals should not worry too much about retracting or debunking previously established evidence.

Finally, for more like this, head to our podcast page #CodaPodcast

For more on Tim Caulfield, click here.

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