As much as we pride ourselves on being logical beings, in reality, we humans are animals with messy minds that are just as governed by our social alliances, emotions, and instincts as our logic.
This makes trust in scientific findings is a massive problem. At a time when Covid, its variants, and monkey pox are in every virtually newscast, this distrust is directly leading to people’s deaths.
It’s an enormous myth that communicating science is that merely presenting people with knowledge will lead to them acting accordingly with logic. Communicating based on this myth isn’t working for gaining anything close to universal acceptance of the global pandemic and climate crisis. It doesn’t work.
Everyone used to accept vaccinations. Now getting vaccinated is a political issue.
How does this happen? Industries, particularly the pharmaceutical industry and before them cigarette makers, hijacking scientific credentials, using “sciency” sounding claims to bolster their clout for profits.
What’s more, science doesn’t always get things right, and large factions of the media are stoking sentiments against “elitist” experts and bolstering anti-science views. For example, conservatives are more likely to believe scientists that appear on Fox News, and liberals are more likely to trust those on CNN.
People providing scientific information can acknowledge that there are valid concerns on the other side, but explain why the scientific position is preferable
People providing scientific information can use technology and advertising to better target messaging based on people’s profiles derived from personal online habits.