Knowledge about the nature of science increases public acceptance of science regardless of identity factors

Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Asheley R. Landrum, Jesse Hamilton, Michael Weisberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

While people’s views about science are related to identity factors (e.g. political orientation) and to knowledge of scientific theories, knowledge about how science works in general also plays an important role. To test this claim, we administered two detailed assessments about the practices of science to a demographically representative sample of the US public (N = 1500), along with questions about the acceptance of evolution, climate change, and vaccines. Participants’ political and religious views predicted their acceptance of scientific claims, as in prior work. But a greater knowledge of the nature of science and a more mature view of how to mitigate scientific disagreements each related positively to acceptance. Importantly, the positive effect of scientific thinking on acceptance held regardless of participants’ political ideology or religiosity. Increased attention to developing people’s knowledge of how science works could thus help to combat resistance to scientific claims across the political and religious spectrum.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-138
Number of pages19
JournalPublic Understanding of Science
Volume30
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2021

Keywords

  • climate change
  • epistemological style
  • evolution
  • nature of science
  • philosophy of science
  • public understanding of science

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