Why Facts Don’t Change Our Minds
Why do people believe things that aren’t true? Why is it so hard to change our minds? Why do we often fail to make decisions and behave in ways that are in our best interests? Why does everyone, including patients, healthcare professionals, scientists, and government officials, have the tendency to ignore evidence that conflicts with… Continue reading
How do we stop people from believing fake news?
How do people come to believe news that isn’t true? What can journalists do to prevent the spread and uptake of patently false information? How can traditional media and social media outlets work together to improve the quality and accuracy of the information people consume online? These were just a few of the “big” questions… Continue reading
How to teach critical thinking and inquiry
Recently, we had the chance to speak with Mark Battersby, co-founder of the Critical Inquiry Group and author of the book Is That a Fact: A Field Guide to Evaluating Statistics and Scientific Information. He is also co-author (with Sharon Bailin) of a critical thinking textbook that focuses on inquiry: Reason in the Balance: An… Continue reading
The Trouble with Evidence-Based Medicine, Again
In Part I of this mini-series on medical guidelines, we discussed some of the challenges physicians face in following evidence-based medical guidelines. Now it’s time to face the much more difficult question: So what are we going to do about it? But first, a seemingly counterintuitive question: Should we do anything about it? As a… Continue reading
How scientists should admit their mistakes
Have you ever made a mistake? If you’re human, and you’re being honest with yourself, the answer to this question has to be “yes.” (If you are a robot, you can stop reading this now – it probably won’t be so useful to you.) If you’re now reflecting on mistakes you’ve made, perhaps you’re thinking… Continue reading
Could we have prevented the measles outbreak in Minnesota?
A serious outbreak of measles in Minnesota, affecting upwards of 45 children, has now been clearly linked to suspicion of vaccines and concerns over their supposed role in causing autism. The outbreak has been spreading predominantly in Minnesota’s Somali-American community, a tightly-knit community that represents the largest population of Somali people in the U.S.… Continue reading
What Causes Cancer?
Perhaps no word evokes as much dread and trembling as “cancer.” Although heart disease kills more Americans every year, cancer seems more nefarious. We can understand that a clot in a small vessel feeding the heart muscle deprives it of oxygen, causing a heart attack. We are told there are many things we can do… Continue reading
It’s Worth More than Peanuts to Get Science Right
A headline in the Washington Post in January declared “New NIH guidelines on infants and peanuts may contradict everything you’ve heard before.” Reading that headline, one might be justified in believing that once again medical science had erred and that everything we had been told about peanut allergy had been wrong. The previous… Continue reading
How to Have Healthy Conversations about Science
Why is uptake of the HPV vaccine so low despite the fact that it is a highly effective and safe way to prevent cervical cancer? How do we have conversations when someone is discounting clear scientific evidence and insisting on something that isn’t evidence-based? These are some of the questions that I explored in a… Continue reading