The Inflated Promise of Science Education

We can’t simply teach our way out of anti-science sentiment. Building public trust is as much about power as about knowledge.

Catarina Dutilh Novaes and Silvia Ivani in the Boston Review:

The public, it is assumed, knows little about science: they are ignorant not just of scientific facts but of scientific methodology, the distinctive way scientific research is conducted. Moreover, this ignorance is supposed to be the primary source of widespread anti-science attitudes, generating fear and suspicion of scientists, scientific innovations, and public policy that is said to “follow the science.” The consequences are on wide display, from opposition to genetically modified foods to the anti-vax movement.

This influential conception of the relations between science and society helped underwrite what has become known as the “knowledge deficit model” of science communication. The model posits an asymmetric relation between scientists and the public: non-scientists are seen as passive recipients of scientific knowledge, which they should accept more or less uncritically according to the dispensations of scientific experts.

More here.