There is plenty of criticism going around these days for people who doubt science. How could anyone have an opinion that ignores “the facts”? Surely, these doubters know that concepts such as climate change (which seems to be the biggest issue these days) came about through diligent scientific study by highly educated researchers. So why would they have doubts?
In my conversations with people who aren’t completely convinced that science can always be trusted, there seem to be a couple of themes: their own personal experiences that seem to conflict with scientific data and inaccurate or changing information from professionals in scientific fields.
These doubters have often been told that their experiences can’t be true because they do not fall in line with what has been found in research. They walk away from conversations feeling that they were not heard, but they still believe what they experienced. What happens to them seems to be treated as unimportant and untrue. They may be told that they need to eat a certain way to lose weight or to feel better, but there experience tells them that eating that way will cause them to gain weight. They may even feel that their perspective has been dismissed even before they have a chance to express it.
Then, they watch as scientific perspectives change. I have heard individuals who doubt climate change talk about global cooling that later turned to global warming. If the scientific community recognized that findings changed over time and that our knowledge of the world is never truly complete, these doubters may be more open to hearing what researchers had to say.
On the other hand, scientists pour long, rigorous hour into studies and research. They want and deserve to have their efforts to expand the knowledge of humanity recognized. Their life’s work should not be dismissed just because someone had a different experience.
However, couldn’t the experiences of individuals who argue that what science says doesn’t fit their lives be used to find exceptions or outliers to scientific findings? Could information from their lives become useful rather than dismissed? Maybe then, they would be more inclined to listen to scientific evidence. They would value what scientists had to say because they would know that scientists would be willing to hear other perspectives that could add to their research rather than both sides being dismissed.