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science and the globe

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Science Denial: Lessons and Solutions

Friday, November 2, 2018

The New York Academy of Sciences, 7 World Trade Center, 250 Greenwich St Fl 40, New York

Presented By

Rutgers Global Health Institute

The New York Academy of Sciences


The outright repudiation of scientific facts is a longstanding, global phenomenon, and the negative consequences are vast for science, public health, global conservation, and beyond.

There is no single way to categorize those who deny science, complicating efforts to overcome science denial. It arises in all strata of education and political ideology, with diverse motivations. Importantly, it is frequently not a dismissal of all science (e.g., someone might accept climate change, but reject vaccines). Having increased scientific knowledge is only marginally protective against science denial, and at times can lead to increased polarization.

In response to this complex and pressing global challenge, this event will gather the world's leading communications, political science, psychology, and behavior researchers with historians, public health officials, and science outreach experts for a 1-day symposium to delve into the history and cultural motivations of, challenges presented by, and future solutions to science denial.


The panel discussions and keynote lecture for this event will be available via Livestream, watch them here.


By 10/03/2018
After 10/03/2018
Nonmember Academia, Faculty, etc.
By 10/03/2018
After 10/03/2018
Nonmember Corporate, Other
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After 10/03/2018
Nonmember Not for Profit
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After 10/03/2018
Nonmember Student, Undergrad, Grad, Fellow
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Member Student, Post-Doc, Fellow
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After 10/03/2018

Event Sponsors


November 02, 2018

8:00 AM

Registration and Breakfast

9:00 AM

Welcoming Remarks

Session I: The History of Science Denial and its Consequences for Global Health

9:15 AM

Panel Discussion


Moderator: Sheldon Krimsky, PhD
Tufts University
Arthur Caplan, PhD
NYU School of Medicine
Elena Conis, PhD
University of California, Berkeley
David Rosner, PhD, MPH
Columbia University
David Scheer, MS
Scheer & Company, Inc.
Nancy Tomes, PhD
Stony Brook University
10:15 AM

Audience Q&A

10:30 AM

Networking Coffee Break

Session II: Understanding the Spread of Science Denial

11:00 AM

Panel Discussion


Moderator: Timothy Caulfield, LLB, LLM
University of Alberta
Cornelia Betsch, PhD
Universität Erfurt
Michael Dahlstrom, PhD
Iowa State University
Kelly M. Greenhill, PhD
Tufts University; Harvard University
Miriam Metzger, PhD
University of California, Santa Barbara
Matthew Nisbet, PhD
Northeastern University
12:00 PM

Audience Q&A

12:15 PM

Networking Luncheon

1:30 PM

Keynote Lecture: Denial or Distrust? On Not Solving the Wrong Problem


Sheila Jasanoff, PhD, JD
Harvard Kennedy School

“Science denial” is a flat term for a complex reality. It implies that science is a single thing, a storehouse of truths that no one should deny. When denial persists, the recommended solution is better communication, so people will hear and understand the facts that scientists have discovered. Yet, scientific controversies tell a more complicated story. Skepticism toward particular scientific facts rarely corresponds to a wholesale rejection of science. Nor is ignorance necessarily the cause of rejection. Instead, refusal to accept a scientific consensus may reflect doubts about scientists’ motivations, their ways of working, or the purposes and benefits of their research. To realign public beliefs with established facts, we need more than an insistence on the facts themselves. We need to rebuild trust in science — a difficult task in a time of political polarization and loss of confidence in experts and institutions. Answers may lie in recognizing that science, like democracy, involves reason and engagement, not merely a search for truth and facts.

Session III: Overcoming Science Denial: Studying the Successes and Failures

2:10 PM

Panel Discussion


Moderator: Richard G. Marlink¸ MD
Rutgers Global Health Institute
Allan M. Brandt¸ PhD
Harvard University
Hoosen Coovadia, MD
University of KwaZulu-Natal; University of the Witwatersrand
Amanda Dempsey, MD, PhD, MPH
University of Colorado, Denver
Cathy Techtmann, MS
University of Wisconsin-Extension
3:10 PM

Audience Q&A

3:25 PM

Networking Coffee Break

Session IV: Elevating Science in Public Policy and Public Discourse

3:55 PM

Panel Discussion


Moderator: Tiffany Lohwater
AAAS – American Association for the Advancement of Science
Dominique Brossard, PhD
University of Wisconsin-Madison; Morgridge Institute for Research
Tamar Haspel
The Washington Post
Liz Neeley, MA
The Story Collider
Jerry Taylor
Niskanen Center
4:55 PM

Audience Q&A

5:10 PM

Closing Remarks

5:20 PM

Networking Reception