The problems we face are urgent, complex and seemingly overwhelming. To respond to them effectively will require ingenuity, common sense and a thoughtful understanding of the problems, as well as a citizenry from which to draw ethical leaders, flexible thinkers and dedicated implementers.
We need citizens and leaders who can cope with uncertainty and still retain clear, critical reasoning and the social ethics to imagine the long-term effects of pursuing and technically applying a line of inquiry.
In today’s world, where polarized beliefs clash with each other and re-enforce extremism on all fronts, dogmatism impedes our efforts to solve intractable global problems—environmental, economic, and social—that confront us all.
With ideologues in positions of power, it is disconcertingly easy to lower standards of scientific rigor and to dismantle the integrity of our public institutions. And with official leaders promoting denialism, such as Tea Party members of Congress, citizens are forced to sift through propaganda and misinformation, rather than focus on urgent issues.
It is thus no longer possible—if indeed it ever was—to separate the forces that obstruct science from those that undermine our political and economic institutions. Denialism permeates every layer of society. Ideology, knee-jerk reactions, and uninformed opinions have supplanted evidence, particularly in the behavioral and social sciences.
Science is being ignored by policy-makers in all realms, from how children learn best, to how to prevent violence, to how to address terrorism.
Science, as an honest path to knowledge, is now often blocked by the institutions that structure our society—government, media, corporate, and academic. In recent times, all these have become unmoored from previous standards of accountability and excellence. Without checks and balances, and constant vigilance, the worst characteristics of human distortion are unleashed: denialism, dogmatism, bias, and group-think.
Unfortunately, most decision-makers remain ignorant of research on the limits of human perception, memory, reason, and cognition. We do a poor job, as a society, of electing leaders with the skills, or even with some basic curiosity, to understand more about human nature and apply this knowledge toward improving policies.
Just as democracy requires an informed and active citizenry, committed to maintaining civic checks and balances, a healthy scientific community requires members who can recognize elements of scientific arguments, who understand evidentiary and statistical reasoning, and who have developed an inherent sense of what kind of questions science does and does not answer.
- What is Hate? >
The Roots of Hate
- Early Imprints >
- What Are We Doing To Our Children? >
- Effects of Trauma and Abuse >
- Causes and Effects of Bullying
- Trauma, bigotry, violence linked
- Authoritarian Upbringings >
- Absolutism and Insularity >
- Papers: Early Roots of Prejudice
- Impaired Cognition >
- The Violent Brain >
- Roots of Violence and Cruelty >
- Ghosts of the Past >
How Hate Manifests
- Hate in the News >
- Social Defenses >
- Fanning the Flames >
How We Fool Ourselves
Brain and Belief
- Search for Certainty >
- Index: All Biases, Distortions and Influences
- Overview of Topics
- Enhancing Emotional and Social Skills >
Building Reflective Minds
- Cross-cultural Awareness >
- Media Awareness >
- Teaching an Honest History >
- Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility >
- Ethics Training >
- Whole Child Learning >
- Social Support and Inclusion >
- Helping Children in Dire Conditions >
- Preventing Violence and Bullying >
- Standing Up To Prejudice, Racism, and Bigotry >
- Training Our Protectors >
- Healing the Hurt >
- Educating Our Leaders >
- Resolving Conflict >
- Israel-Palestine >
- Promoting Dignity >
- Healing the Ghosts of the Past >
- Restorative Justice >
- Confronting Mass Atrocities >
- Social Advances >
- More Solutions >