Our collection of this week's social & behavioral science headlines...
- The Atlantic: A New Argument for More Diverse Classrooms
- Pacific Standard: The Kids Are All Right—but Why?
- Stanford News: Stanford researchers develop new statistical test that shows racial profiling in police traffic stops
- NY Magazine: ‘Contemptuous’ Personalities Are a Thing, It Turns Out
- Quartz: The science of why people insist on making idiotic choices
- Slate: We Need More Iconoclasts!
Science undervalues novelty. How can we encourage researchers to take greater risks?
- Ideas 42: Tackling America’s College Completion Crisis with Behavioral Science
- The Atlantic: You Can’t Willpower Your Way To Lasting Weight Loss
- Philly.com: What addiction science says about getting—and staying—off opioids
- Washington Post: Can ‘early warning systems’ keep children from dropping out of school?
- Atul Gawande in the New Yorker: The Mistrust of Science
The challenge of what to do about this—how to defend science as a more valid approach to explaining the world—has actually been addressed by science itself. Scientists have done experiments. In 2011, two Australian researchers compiled many of the findings in “The Debunking Handbook.” The results are sobering. The evidence is that rebutting bad science doesn’t work; in fact, it commonly backfires. Describing facts that contradict an unscientific belief actually spreads familiarity with the belief and strengthens the conviction of believers. That’s just the way the brain operates; misinformation sticks, in part because it gets incorporated into a person’s mental model of how the world works. Stripping out the misinformation therefore fails, because it threatens to leave a painful gap in that mental model—or no model at all.