Fears of backfire effects are overblown, and advice to listen and interact still stands.
By Lee McIntyre, 5 August 2021
I was at the March for Science in Boston, Massachusetts, on 22 April 2017, as were many scientists.
About 70,000 of us descended on the Boston Common, a famous park in the city. We were there to stand up for facts and truth. Where are the crowds of scientists now?
Since then, harms from science denial have only increased: global suffering has grown owing to inaction on climate change, and COVID-19 infections have risen along with the scourge of vaccine scepticism.
I’ve been out there — I talked to flat-earthers at a convention in Denver, Colorado, and went to rural Pennsylvania to talk to coal miners about climate change — and I’ve asked my scientist friends to come with me.
No dice. “Those people just aren’t worth talking to,” they’ll say. “I wouldn’t make a difference anyway.”
That’s wrong, both factually and morally. Those people can and do change their minds, although it requires someone to put in the time to overcome distrust.
“By now with Christmas only 9 days away, many are probably rushing to do their last minute shopping, baking the last batch of cookies, feeling stressed by too many annoying Christmas songs and commercials blasting out of the airwaves, all while dashing through the snow on their one-horse open sleigh.”
“No wonder we often lose the true meaning of Christmas.”
“For those still in throes of meeting fast approaching deadlines, I thought I would offer a Christmas tip sheet