Why don't some people believe in science?

By Larissa Calume Eduardo

Recently, we have seen a mass hysteria against the new Covid vaccination; with many voicing doubts and a genuine distrust of the vaccination. This sense of public paranoia has been amplified by conspiracy theories which have been through social media, and even celebrities express anti-vax views. Such as Letitia Wright (Black panther actress) who deactivated her social media account after backlash surrounding an anti-vax post.

However this rejection of new medicine, science and technology is not a new phenomenon. In fact it is an ever occurring reaction towards new science as we’ve seen similar reactions to Global warming, Vaccination, Darwin’s evolution theory and The big bang theory. Ultimately posing the question: Why do people fear new science?

One theory suggested by a 2015 study in ‘The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science’ was that humans have a problem separating emotions from decision making. This study entailed researchers creating a model of human cognition which found that hot-cognition is activated in 200 milliseconds when a person is presented with scientific evidence. This is significant, as hot-cognition is utilised in dealing with one's emotion, therefore instantly tainting evidence with preconceived notions and judgements. This emotional outlook on science is detrimental as science requires the opposite such as thinking, evaluating and re-evaluating.

Another theory by Kurt Lewin, a 20th century psychologist, suggests that humans have a natural tendency to resist change and prefer to remain within the status-quo. This theory mirrors the reasoning behind reluctance to science in the past as many people were religious and saw all scientific developments at the time to be the devil’s work.

Additionally, as of recently we have seen the politicisation of science, which inevitably lead to the polarisation of science. This can be seen in the politicisation of climate change in the US. With Donald Trump notoriously stating that "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.". As a result Republican voters are re-iterating this anti-climate change sentiment. This example presents how these conspiracies and hostility against science, coming straight from the President and Other people in powerful positions, can have a large impact on the thoughts and opinions of the general public.

Ultimately demonstrating how frequently with science many do not evaluate the fact and form opinions for themselves but rather follow emotions or look towards their peers. To conclude this article, we wish for yourselves to research the new vaccine and form individual opinions instead of falling into these regressive human tendencies.

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