Science, politics, and vaccine acceptance

Michael Weisberg, Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy in the College of Arts and Sciences, had an idea of ​​the nature of science and its relationship to political affiliation and scientific acceptance. So, he tested it with his assistants.


One of these collaborators is Jesse Hamilton, a first-year PhD student in philosophy. Weisberg and Hamilton explain that previous research has shown that knowing facts about scientific knowledge, such as the relative mass of the electron or the properties of noble gases, has little bearing on the acceptance of politically controversial scientific theories, including anthropogenic climate change, and evolution. and vaccine safety. This research showed that party affiliation was more influential than knowledge of scientific facts when it came to a person’s opinions on these topics.

“So, for example, self-identified conservatives who know more scientific facts tend to agree more with other conservatives than with scientists,” explains Hamilton. “This is somewhat illogical because we would expect greater scientific knowledge to be related to acceptance of well-supported scientific theories. We hypothesized that if people understood the nature of science, rather than merely knowing scientific facts, they would be more likely to accept scientific consensus regardless of their political affiliations.”

This is what their research found. Weisberg, Hamilton and two other researchers published their findings in general understanding of science. A survey of 1,500 Americans from diverse political and religious backgrounds showed that the more people who know how science works, the less likely they are to reject science along political lines. Weisberg says this is true regardless of an individual’s level of religiosity or political identity.

“With the COVID-19 vaccine on everyone’s mind, the most important thing is that everyone involved has to clearly explain why and how they know what they know,” Weisberg says. People wonder how the vaccine was developed in less than a year. The scientific and medical community needs to treat this as an important question.”

This story is by Lauren Rebecca Thacker. Read more at Umniah.

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