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« Is this how motivated innumeracy happens?... | Main | Mitigation & adaptation: Two remedies for a polluted science communication environment »
Friday
Nov012013

What is "cultural cognition"? I'll show you... (Slides)

These slides are from a talk I gave last August at SENCER summer institute.  I think I didn't put it up then b/c we hadn't yet put out the working paper on "motivated numeracy."

The talk is sort of upsidedown relative to one that I sometimes give to lawyers (including law scholars & judges).  In that talk, I start w/ the "science communication problem" & then say: "now behold: the law has a similar difficulty -- the 'neutrality communication problem!'"

Here, in contrast, I said, "look at the law -- it doesn't get that neutral legal decisionmaking doesn't communicate its own neutrality to public. Now behold: science has same problem--valid science doesn't communicate its own validity!"

I guess the idea is that it's easier to recognize how commitment to a way of seeing things is interfering with one's goals if one is first shown the same phenomenon vexing someone else...

Of course, the SENCER folks aren't vexed by what they can't see; they are vexed by what they can see -- the failure of science education and related professions that generate science-informed "products" to use evidence-based methods to assess and improve how they deliver the same. The whole point of SENCER is to get people to see that & do something about it (do what? experiment w/ various possibilities & report the results, of course!).

So maybe I was preaching to the choir.  But it still seemed to make sense to enter unexpectedly through the side door/roof/chimney.  And maybe what I enabled them to see-- even if it was no surprise -- is that the law could use some SENCERizing too. 

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