There’s overwhelming scientific evidence and consensus that global warming is happening and humans are the cause. However, there’s also a deluge of misinformation designed to confuse the public and generate doubt about climate change. How should we respond to the firehose of falsehoods? One way to neutralize the influence of misinformation is through inoculation. This takes the idea of vaccination and applies it to knowledge—we can build immunity to misinformation by exposing people to a weak form of misinformation. In other words, by explaining the reasoning fallacies in denialist claims—exposing the techniques used to mislead. Not only does this approach neutralize the influence of science denial, it can turn misinformation into an educational opportunity and improve critical thinking. This talk will outline the research into countering misinformation and demonstrate the approach with visual examples.
John Cook is a research assistant professor at the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University. His research focus is understanding and countering misinformation about climate change. In 2007, he founded Skeptical Science, a website which won the 2011 Australian Museum Eureka Prize for the Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge and 2016 Friend of the Planet Award from the National Center for Science Education. John co-authored the college textbooks Climate Change: Examining the Facts and Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis and the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand. In 2013, he published a paper finding 97% scientific consensus on human-caused global warming, a finding that has been highlighted by President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron.