Persuasive words are not enough

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Science  26 Jun 2020:
Vol. 368, Issue 6498, pp. 1405
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd4085

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  • Politicization of American Historiography and the Spread of Anti-Intellectualism in Contemporary America
    • Yixiao Sun, College of Sociology and History, Fujian Normal University

    In his studies, Tom Nichols explains how political attacks on experts spread anti-intellectualism. [1] In addition to marginalizing natural scientists, politicization set the stage for the exclusion of historians in public sphere by providing a celebratory definition of American national history. [2] Politicization of American historiography originated from defining American Revolution as a simplified heroic story against British tyranny. [3] Nationalist’s definition of a coherent nation reached the pinnacle by providing a glorified theme of national history limited in democratic growth and the expansion of liberty which ignored racism and patriarchism in the Early Republic. [4] Therefore, historians seek to break limitations of nationalism by using subjects including race and gender rather than a coherent nation as the units of historical analysis during the past decades. [5]
    The historiography of race and gender may be fragmentary, but it provides deep thinking against polarization in public media. [6] Like scientists, American historians are losing the battle against “digital leviathan”. [7] American Revolution is simplified as war stories against the “enemy” of American citizen for impulse patriotism.[8] More importantly, American history in the long nineteenth century is simplified as a national project based on a “healthy” nationalism abandoned “undemocratic and racist” factors.[9] Ironically, this interpretation is used by President Trump to demonstrate the l...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: COVID-19, governments, and society. Is there another way to face COVID-19 than with science?
    • Jorge Teixeira, Professor and Researcher, Department of Clinical Analysis and Biomedicine. State University of Maringá
    • Other Contributors:
      • Áquila Ramos-Milaré, Professor and Researcher, Department of Clinical Analysis and Biomedicine. State University of Maringá
      • Daniele Lera-Nonose, Professor and Researcher, Department of Clinical Analysis and Biomedicine. State University of Maringá
      • Maria Lonardoni, Professor and Researcher, Department of Clinical Analysis and Biomedicine. State University of Maringá

    The Editorial of Science Journal, written by the Editor-in-chief H. Holden Thorp on June 26, 2020, reports the great concern that "persuasive words are not enough" to science beat misinformation in these pandemic times. The Editor highlighted the concern about the reach of science and the spread of misinformation in the general community. He also rebutted the say that “science need to do a better job at telling its stories.” and reinforced the efforts that have being made to disseminate facts and knowledge by science, including the Science Journal efforts. It is essential to make abreath mention to the engagement of WHO in the numerous recommendations and guidelines developed and made available to governments and society for better facing COVID-19, detaching the extreme importance of non-pharmacological interventions. Despite countless recommendations, it seems that the return of part of society and governments is insufficient. This distrust has resulted in an increase in the number of cases and deaths in several countries, and the central question is: What is the justification for denying science and WHO recommendations? Nowadays, we are witnessing a frantic rush of science with highly satisfactory results from vaccine research in phase 3, with hopes of availability still in 2020, or by mid-2021 at the latest. What would governments and society have to say? Once again, science advances, bringing light and hope to everyone. The editor draws attention to the giga...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Coronavirus misinformation and the political scenario: the science cannot be ‘another’ barrier

    The recent editorial published at Science, Thorp (1) argued the role of the antiscience movement to propagate misinformation and disinformation as a substantial barrier for advances in research on the novel coronavirus. Especially the editorial focused on the relationship between misinformation and political scenario.
    Despite the primordial importance of science to contribute with trusty information on the contemporary scenario of ideological wars, there is another domain that has been interfered with the increase of misinformation and disinformation: the political polarization. The actions of political parties supported by correspondent interests from media have been collaborated for strengthening of these obstacles not only due to the development of false information but also due to the elaboration of half-truths.
    Extreme polarization on the contemporary political scenario has increased not just due to a pole or other but because of a profound relationship that supports then. Evidently, there is a parallel relationship between conjunctions of the left and the right in the political area. However, the alienated conceptions proliferate when the totality of the representations on the right is identified in the opposite totality on the left – and vice versa.
    This operation happens by logical implications: if something can exist just as itself or in its opposition, there are no possibilities for qualifying the singularities and pluralities. Thus, the rig...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.

    I would like to applaud Dr Sherley's response. It's right on target. Furthermore I would like to see the endless diatribe about creationism to stop. It's not important to every day life. Even if you are a scientist in most of the professions it won't inhibit success. The only thing it could impact is an evolutionary biologist or similar profession. It's like any other religious belief.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Scientists and Disinformation on Social Media

    The editorial H. Holden Thorp on June 26th (“Persuasive Words Are Not Enough”) highlighted the misinformation campaigns being conducted on social media for a variety scientific issues, and the difficulties scientists have in combatting them. I am a scientist in the environmental field, and so have been watching closely how denialism is working on Twitter especially with respect to how society should respond to elevated atmospheric CO2. This denialism is mainly to support of an antigovernment ideology – any solution that requires government action is undermined, so the science that identifies the problem is suspect. It often involves attacking people that are suggesting solutions based on science, but also exploits kernels of scientific understanding to undermine consensus. The latter is where scientists can play a positive role in social media.

    I’m not a big fan of social media, but about three years ago opted to become active (on Twitter) in part to see what I could do to raise the dialogue. My strategy has been to respond to tweets that skew facts (which again are always based on some kernel of believability) with logic and politeness that point out the fallacy or illogic of the point being made. These disinformation campaigns are generally led by a couple of people with large followings, while followers chime in or parrot the statements of the leaders. I don’t try to change the view of the leaders (their obviously highly committed to their cause), but rather...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Persuasive Words

    I agree with you that misinformation is a problem and that we should do a better job in communicating facts to people. But how can we communicate facts to people when truth is no longer the goal of all inquiry?
    In seeking truth, would you be so kind as to provide a reference to the claim that Vice President Mike Pence believes that "the Earth is only 6000 years old?
    If facts are facts with no alternatives, would you say that the statement "Men don't get pregnant" is a fact or an opinion?
    Thank you for your attention to this Email.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE: Use science better

    The problem with this editorial is that it is just as chauvinistic about scientific information as its identified adversaries are rabid against it. Science should not be wielded as a political weapon or an intellectual bludgeon. By the very nature of its inquiry and method, science works best when it is defining the uncertainty in knowledge. Scientists like Fauci commit a grave misstep when they bluster that rapidly developing scientific information is proven, certain fact, and the truth. It rarely is, if indeed ever. If scientists who have been thrust into public policy leadership positions recognized that the greater public is tolerant to admitted uncertainties in our evolving conclusions - the way sciences actually works - the current crisis would be going much better than the mess we find ourselves in now; and those who question or impugn the currently predominant coronavirus spread narrative for reasons other than good intent would be much less effective in their destructive aims.

    Competing Interests: None declared.

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