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Tuesday
Dec192017

"Knowledge deficit theory^2": a definition

From the Cultural Cognition Dictionary (Mockingbird Univ. Press, forthcoming):

The “knowledge deficit fallacy.” A theory (either explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious) that treats simple unfamiliarity with facts as the cause of the public’s failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on human-caused climate change, human evolution, the safety of nuclear power generation, etc. The theory also assumes (explicitly or implicitly, consciously or unconsciously) that simple communication of the best available evidence will dispel public conflict over facts. 

* * *

The “ ‘knowledge deficit fallacy’.”  A theory (either explicit or implicit, conscious or unconscious) that treats simple unfamiliarity with the “knowledge deficit fallacy” as the cause of science communicators’ failure to converge on the best available scientific evidence on how to communicate human-caused climate change, human evolution, the safety of nuclear power generation, etc. The theory also assumes (explicitly or implicitly, consciously or unconsciously) that simple communication of the best available evidence on science communication will dispel science communicators’ reliance on the knowledge deficit theory.

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Reader Comments (4)

Dan,

My impression is that backfire is still the most discussed concept in popsci articles that mention the science of science communication.

But, maybe you have data showing otherwise?

December 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

link drop:
https://theconversation.com/climate-scientists-and-policymakers-need-to-trust-each-other-but-not-too-much-89240

December 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

@Jonathan-- could be. But the CC Dictionary has many additional entries. Eg., conflict entrepreneur, rope-a-dope, Liberal REpublic of Science, tragedy of science communications commons, MS2R

December 20, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Jonathan, interesting link.

"What happens if one of them starts to become loose with the facts, or fails to adhere to professional standards? Is their trusting counterpart more, or less, likely to identify the poor behaviour and respond appropriately?"

Fascinating to see the possibility even considered!

"We know that science advances by consensus, and that this consensus is shaped by rigorous research and review, and intense debate and scrutiny."

Do we?

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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