You have touched upon a key point in the discussion of the public acceptance of scientific consensus, which is that appealing to scientific consensus as a basis for supporting a position is an appeal to authority, which is a common logical fallacy. Effective scientific communication is one thing that can bridge the gap between what scientists believe and what the public believes, by explaining why scientists believe what they do, not just by telling people what scientists believe. This is why skilled science communicators are every bit as vital for human development as skilled scientific theorists and skilled scientific researchers.

For instance, it is my contention that once you understand the basics of how greenhouse gases work with regard to infrared photon absorption and emission, then you can understand, at least on an intuitive, basic level, why global warming happens and how it is tied to our own activities on Earth. I have written about it more extensively here. There is a lot at stake when it comes to global warming, so it is important that people be given a chance to understand it better, and not just be presented with sound bite after sound bite of reporters saying what percentage of scientists believe it is real.

It’s hard to lay out a grand plan to get everyone interested enough in science that we, as a species, can take optimal advantage of our collective scientific knowledge and no longer have to make claims of scientific consensus as a means of backing a position. I’m sure it starts with education. A shamefully large number of adult human beings in the world simply have not been given an opportunity to acquire the tools necessary to engage in critical thinking and, without a strong foundation of critical thinking, the chance for someone to develop even a rudimentary scientific understanding of a subject or appreciate scientific arguments is minuscule.

Just the facts: Writer. Gamer. Feminist. Educated in Astrophysics. Professional Gambler. Student of Language. Satanist. Anarchist.

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