The Difference in the Way Scientists and Laypeople Approach Knowledge

Scientists are trained to avoid rhetorical arguments, the "vulgar Induction" Bacon warned against, and let the chips of reality fall where they may. They highly prize this intellectual honesty because the stakes for them are very high. They know how value judgments, prejudices, and habits of thought can blind you to the truth you are seeking, which will limit or end your career as a scientist.

The lay public does just the opposite. They form frames of reference. prejudices, and value judgments as guides for navigating life and then make rhetorical arguments to get what they need. What feels good is good. The idea that the ignorant or stupid public just needs to be better educated in order to see the light is called the deficit model—the assumption by scientists that the public thinks the same way they do, and therefore that the public's differences with science are because of a knowledge deficit. If that's the case, it makes perfect sense for scientists to simply try to pour in more knowledge—fill the deficit—to win support and eradicate the willful inculcation of stupidity that Michael Webber bemoans in Texas.


Scientists work from evidence, the layperson works from a premise.

Folksonomies: empiricism public policy

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Truth (0.932151): dbpedia | freebase
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Logic (0.735134): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Science (0.689766): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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 Fool Me Twice
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Otto , Shawn Lawrence (2011-10-11), Fool Me Twice, Rodale Press, Retrieved on 2013-01-08
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  • Folksonomies: politics science