Science on Tap

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Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2024
7 p.m.
Cost: $15 - $37.50
3000 NE Alberta St
Portland, OR 97211

The following description was submitted by the event organizer.

Can we change the minds of science deniers? Encounters with flat earthers, anti-vaxxers, coronavirus truthers, and others.

“Climate change is a hoax — and so is coronavirus.” “Vaccines are bad for you.” These days, many of our fellow citizens reject scientific expertise and prefer ideology to facts. They are not merely uninformed — they are misinformed. They cite cherry-picked evidence, rely on fake experts, and believe conspiracy theories. How can we convince such people otherwise? How can we get them to change their minds and accept the facts when they don’t believe in facts? In this Science on Tap, Lee McIntyre shows that anyone can fight back against science deniers and argues that it’s important to do so. Science denial can kill.

Drawing on his own experience — including a visit to a Flat Earth convention — as well as academic research, How to Talk to a Science Denier outlines the common themes of science denialism, present in misinformation campaigns ranging from tobacco companies’ denial in the 1950s that smoking causes lung cancer to today’s anti-vaxxers. He describes attempts to use his persuasive powers as a philosopher to convert Flat Earthers, surprising discussions with coal miners, and conversations with a scientist friend about genetically modified organisms in food. McIntyre offers tools and techniques for communicating the truth and values of science, emphasizing that the most important way to reach science deniers is to talk to them calmly and respectfully — to put ourselves out there, to meet them face to face.

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University and a recent Lecturer in Ethics at Harvard Extension School. He holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan. Formerly, Executive Director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, he has also served as a policy advisor to the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard.

McIntyre’s latest book is On Disinformation (which will also be available at the show). He’s also a native Portlander and grew up about a mile from the Alberta Rose Theatre.