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How to deal with contradictory scientific information

How to deal with contradictory scientific information

Science and research is becoming more popular in the media and on-line, so how can the general public deal with contradictory scientific advice and research?

Professor Rainer Bromme of the University of Münster, Germany, will present a talk, “Between certainty and doubt – What citizens (need to) know in order to cope with science based expert knowledge” at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work this Friday.

Many decisions in one's personal, public or professional life are based on expert information. Currently, the Internet is a widely used source for this information to find information on all kinds of educational and health issues. But often this information is inconclusive or even contradictory. Often it is hard to tell apart the advice of experts from that of quacks, especially when there are disagreements among experts with high reputation.

In his lecture, Professor Bromme will present empirical evidence on lay peoples' ways of coping with disagreements among experts. He will discuss the educational challenges of preparing students to find their ways between certainty and doubt when it comes to expert knowledge.

“It’s the bad side of a positive development that as science is covered more in the media and is easily accessible by the Internet it’s very hard to understand and judge who is right and who is wrong,” he says.

Rainer Bromme has been Professor (Educational Psychology) from 1995 to 2016 at the Institute of Psychology, University of Münster, Germany where he taught Bachelor and Master programs in Psychology. Now he is Senior Professor at the university, with a focus on research on science communication.

His present research addresses learning in formal and informal learning contexts, especially communication among experts and laypersons, internet use and the Public Understanding of Science.

From 2009 to 2015 he coordinated a German Science Foundation (DFG) funded research programme on Science and the Public: The public understanding of conflicting scientific evidence. At present, he is one of the PIs within the DFG funded Research Training Group Trust and Communication in a Digitized World at the University of Münster.

His University public lecture: Between certainty and doubt – What citizens (need to) know in order to cope with science based expert knowledge, is at the University’s Epsom Campus on Thursday October 19th. More details are here.

Professor Bromme is also talking at Auckland Museum on Wednesday 25th October. More details are here.


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