to overcome individual biases and motivated reasoning appears to be
that individuals be sufficiently motivated by accuracy goals rather
than partisan goals” (Kraft et al., 2015, p. 131). Instilling this value
may be a far more difficult challenge, but one may use illustrative
parables from history. Namely, we can simply come to appreciate
the dangers of lies in the present, by seeing their costs in the past.
We have experienced a crisis of credibility before. When the
printing press appeared in Europe, information suddenly flowed
across the landscape with unprecedented speed and scale. So, too,
did misinformation. Huge encyclopedias emerged, but they amassed
claims from far and wide without discrimination. That thirst for
recording knowledge generated a now familiar problem: knowing
what (or whom) to trust. Confronting that dilemma led, in time, to
an institutional framework that we now call modern science. The
seventeenth century witnessed the rise of testing and validating;
the reporting of methods and results; and societies that oversaw
credible testimony, peer review, and publication. So too, now, with
the Internet and technologies for rapid communication. The new
media allow information to spread faster than the ability to sort truth
from falsehood. In our new Era of Mendacity, we need to adapt, by
amplifying and extending the methods of science. The “truth will
out” only with dedicated effort and work. That is the challenge
now for science teachers: to help disarm information con-artists,
and to reduce the adverse effects of fake news and alternative facts,
by raising an understanding of their tactics and of the scientific
methods for validating facts.
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