For the past two years, and certainly with more fervor since the US general election a year ago, I’ve been working to understand what the new political “populism” in the West means for science, science policy, and science communication. I had a chance last week to help put together a briefing/workshop on the emerging science communication landscape for the US National Science Board, the presidentially appointed — with six year terms, so no one yet from the current Administration — governing board for the US National Science Foundation. My charge was to help them understand the “motivated reasoning” hypothesis being explored by comms researchers like Dan Kahan at Yale U, who posit that it isn’t ignorance or scientific illiteracy that is driving what we (in the editorial sense) dismiss as “denialism” — rather, it is a matter of allegiance to tribal identities and to value sets that transcend what they see as blind support of science/scientific process.
I’m pasting in a copy (redacted to remove my agency affiliation, etc., since I did this strictly in a closed session and as an interested researcher/practitioner, not as a DOE employee) of the powerpoint I used to guide this 3-hour comms workshop, the first in NSB’s history. I think it raises issues we need to address in Bellagio.
There’s also a related paper I just posted to the library from Issues in Science & Technology.