Understanding conspiracy theories and cognitive styles in a post-truth era

Over the past few years, I’ve read, enjoyed, and learned a great deal from the friendly banter that goes back and forth between Stephen Lewandowsky (@STWorg) and Dan Kahan (@cult_cognition) on Twitter. While Kahan often points to politics and ‘tribes’ as triggers for risk perception and behavior, Lewandowsky reframes things in a slightly different way. He suggests that perceptions may be less shaped by political ideology and more by something he calls “cognitive styles.” “Cognitive…

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My Science Love Story

SAIFood Blog recently allowed me to take up a bit of their ‘online real estate’ to share my thoughts on storytelling and science communication. An excerpt: “…the art and science of storytelling is evolving. And storytelling today requires a whole new level of agility and ingenuity than it ever has before. It is one part engagement and two parts personal branding. It also requires an aptitude for self-reflection.” “Sure, Cami. You can talk the talk,…

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Ideological Bias & Social Survival: don’t get voted off the island!

My colleague, Bill, popped his head into my office one day with two words: “Ideological bias”. Then two more: “What do you know?” I shared some info with him. And I thought that I would share with you, my reader. Ideological bias is less of a ‘thing’ than it is a family of things. It is defined as a collection of ideas, or beliefs, held by an individual, or a group of people. Ideology and…

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The power of storytelling…

This Valentine’s Day, share the love… of a story. Paul Zak says so…. ” Zak examines the psychological effects of stories and narratives on the human mind – the ‘neuroscience of the narrative’. According to Zak, whether they play out at bedtime, in our communities or in popular media, stories can build trust. Zak’s research finds that stories cause our brains to produce a chemical called oxytocin (there are others too). The production of this…

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“It’s all just pretend…” #predatorypublishing

If you have been keeping up with my blog posts of late, you will know that the issue of predatory publishing has been on my radar (see this and this). What is predatory publishing? Jeffrey Beall, founder and archivist at Scholarly Open Access defines it as: “…[A]n exploitative open-access publishing business model that involves charging publication fees to authors without providing the editorial and publishing services associated with legitimate journals (open access or not).” The number of predatory publishers and…

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In her shoes: the role of empathy in our conversations

I just picked up Paul Bloom’s latest book “Against Empathy: the case for rational compassion”… I’m about halfway through (and enjoying it) and it reminded me of this blog post that I wrote last year: “In Her Shoes: the role of empathy in our conversations”… Camistry Ruth’s sensible footwear Last month marked the closing of the Dewdney Players production of The Calendar Girls(Tim Firth). It was a whirlwind few-months of rehearsals leading into three weeks…

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The slippery world of predatory publishing and what it means for scientific integrity

I clearly recall the first time I saw an article that I co-wrote in print in an academic journal. It was exhilarating. While I knew that the ‘real world’ (friends and family) would likely never read it, for me it was a visible, tangible record of my accomplishment and a signal to my peers that this young scholar had “arrived” in the academic world. I’ve Been Published! For an academic, research is the daily work…

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Why is a social scientist working at Monsanto?

I am often asked, “Why does a social scientist work for Monsanto?” That’s a good question. An even better question – and one I am asked even more often – is… A social scientist is interested in relationships; relationships between people and relationships between people and the social environment (think ‘life’, ‘work’, ‘family’, etc). The social sciences cover a wide range of disciplines that including things like anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, language studies, psychology, and sociology. (Check…

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Food fads and grey matters

In his article “The Logical Failures of Food Fads” (published in Slate in April 2015), Alan Levinovitz raises an important point that often gets lost in our science communication pursuits: “Spotting the fatal flaws requires no scientific knowledge whatsoever, just a rudimentary grasp of rhetoric and logic…” Many of us in the science communication space have realized that traditional, patriarchal, deficit model-driven strategies often fail because of the ‘backfire effect’. Maria Popova (Brainpickings) quotes David…

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What happens when a friend asks you this?… #GMOs @AJStein_de

This is what happened when Alexander Stein was asked this: “Do you have any recommendations for reading about the debate on GMOs? I think there is a lot of heat, but too little light in the discussion; I trust you can send me some…” To which he responded: “Sure, I will look into it, select a few references and post them…” Alexander Stein provides your one-stop shop for everything GMOs and safety and public perceptions…

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