Why being a responsible information consumer is harder than it sounds. You cannot control your amygdala, but you can at least limit the damage when it tries to control you.
In researching Monday’s article about opposition to smart meters, I [Times reporter Felicity Barringer] found myself once again facing a dilemma built into environmental reporting: how to evaluate whether claims of health effects caused by some environmental contaminant — chemicals, noise, radiation, whatever — are potentially valid? I turned, as usual, to the peer-reviewed science.
But some very intelligent people I interviewed had little use for the existing (if sparse) science. How, in a rational society, does one understand those who reject science, a common touchstone of what is real and verifiable?
The absence of scientific evidence doesn’t dissuade those who believe childhood vaccines are linked to autism, or those who believe their headaches, dizziness and other symptoms are caused by cellphones and smart meters. And the presence of large amounts of scientific evidence doesn’t convince those who reject the idea that human activities are disrupting the climate.