Online Training: Debunking Science Denial

How should we respond when a weathercaster on TV says climate change isn't happening, or a school board member says evolution shouldn't be taught, or another parent at the playground repeats long-debunked claims about vaccine risks, or a student in class repeats a canard about the age of the earth? What do we do as individuals who care about science (even if we aren't experts on the science under attack)? How can local networks of science education advocates respond to such instances of science denial?

To answer these questions, join the online training session conducted by the National Center for Science Education on Wednesday, May 28, 2014, at 3 PM. Register now through the GoToWebinar system, and invite friends to register as well. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar. The video of the session will be archived on NCSE's site afterward, as they archived the video and related materials from previous trainings (including trainings on media skills, lobbying, outreach to clergy, and the recently-released National Climate Assessment).

Our first instinct is usually to try correcting the false statement, but too often that drags us into an endless discussion, or into topics where we don't know enough details to debunk every claim. Fortunately, there are resources out there to help fill in the blanks on common claims, and time-tested techniques to move people away from their false beliefs.

A panel of experts in the field will describe these resources and the techniques they've found effective, and webinar participants will have time to ask questions and practice their debunking skills. Participants without any experience will learn how to avoid common pitfalls and gain the confidence to confront science denial on their own, and experienced debunkers will have a chance to hone their skills and share their own experiences.

The panel will include Shauna Theel from the climate and energy project at Media Matters for America, John Cook of and the University of Queensland's Global Change Institute, and be moderated by NCSE's Josh Rosenau. Shauna will discuss her work addressing media misstatements and how citizens can correct the record. John will describe the debunking resource and the Debunking Handbook he co-authored, and Josh will talk about the experience he's gained debunking science denial at NCSE.

Click through to the GoToWebinar site to learn more about the session, and to register. Please feel free to share that link with any friends, neighbors, or colleagues you think might want to participate as well.

By honing these skills, we can help protect our schools, and help protect the education of tomorrow's citizens. Even if you cannot join the session on May 28 at 3 PM CDT, this session will be recorded and there will be other trainings in future months.

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  • Teresa

    Oh this is *SUCH* BS!!!!

    Using loaded language like "denial" (and its intentional association with Holocaust Denial) to demonize anyone who dares question the IPCC and it's airtight hypothesis that human use of fossil fuel is the cause of any and all negative weather events.

    May 23, 2014

    • Carl C

      I am skeptical of much of the science, especially the more extreme claims. Because this issue is so important, though—both in terms of the potential impacts if we don't act, as well as the potential impacts if we over-react or don’t act optimally—I wish I could really study the topic, and develop a truly informed opinion. Like the vast majority, however, I just don’t have the time.

      So I take the same approach I take for other topics where I don’t have the time to become an expert: I learn what I can, but also rely heavily on the numbers, qualifications, and motivations (as far as they can be determined) of those on both sides of the issue. In doing this w.r.t. climate change I have to say it doesn’t say much for the “deniers”.

      June 7, 2014

    • Carl C

      I have read many publications from deniers, and find that they tend to be authored by individuals who are not primarily climatologists and/or really don’t know how to interpret data. Here’s a link to an article by a denier, referring to a “study” supposedly refuting climate change, that I couldn’t help but pick apart in the comment section: http://www.energycent...­ Not only is this author bad at interpreting data and at critically evaluating scientific articles, he can’t manage a capable defense of his own article. It’s funny and sad at the same time.

      Unfortunately I find Mr. Ashworth rather typical of the deniers that I have seen. Just as bad, I find them to have a greater tendency to have obvious political motivations, and there is seems to be a not-so-curious correlation to denial of Evolution among their ranks.

      June 7, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    The discussion was good, but one of the best things I got out of this webinar was the free download of the "Debunking Handbook," written by John Cook. A few days later, I came across a wonderful logical fallacies poster (also a free d/l) which dovetailed nicely with the discussion. Good stuff!

    June 6, 2014

    • Lou J

      Thanks for posting this link. I use their website for an activity in my astronomy class, but I didn't know about the poster.

      1 · June 6, 2014

    • A former member
      A former member

      You're welcome!

      June 6, 2014

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