A description of a new online course on climate science denial that uses findings from cognitive psychology to get its point across.
Several strands of research in cognitive psychology, educational research and a branch of psychology called “inoculation theory” all point the way to neutralising the influence of science denial. The approach is two-fold: communicate the science but also explain how that science can be distorted.
So our course looks at the most common climate myths you’re likely to encounter online or in the media. We examine myths casting doubt on the reality of global warming. We explore the many human fingerprints on climate change. We look at the messages from past climate change and what climate models tell us about the future. And we look at how climate change is impacting every part of society and the environment. As we examine myths touching on all these parts of climate science, we shine the spotlight on the fallacies and techniques used to distort the science.
A bit on the study of ignorance from the Journal of Geoscience Education. (pdf)
Raising Climate Literacy Through Addressing Misinformation: Case Studies in Agnotology-Based Learning
John Cook,1,2, Daniel Bedford,3 and Scott Mandia4
Agnotology is the study of how and why ignorance or misconceptions exist. While misconceptions are a challenge for educators, they also present an opportunity to improve climate literacy through agnotology-based learning. This involves the use of refutational lessons that challenge misconceptions while teaching scientific conceptions. We present three case studies in improving climate literacy through agnotology-based learning. Two case studies are classroom-based, applied in a community college and a four-year university. We outline the misinformation examined, how students are required to engage with the material and the results from this learning approach. The third case study is a public outreach targeting a climate misconception about scientific consensus. We outline how cognitive research guided the design of content, and the ways in which the material was disseminated through social media and mainstream media. These real-world examples provide effective ways to reduce misperceptions and improve climate literacy, consistent with twenty years of research demonstrating that refutational texts are among the most effective forms of reducing misperceptions.