Why do scientists disagree? Explaining and improving measures of the perceived causes of scientific disputes

Nathan Dieckmann, Branden B. Johnson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    1 Citation (Scopus)

    Abstract

    There has been increasing attention to understanding how laypeople explain disagreements among scientists. In this article, we evaluate the factorial validity and scale/item functioning of a Science Dispute Reasons scale (Study 1) and test specific hypotheses about demographic, individual difference, and topic-related variables that may explain why some reasons are perceived to be more likely than others (Study 2). The final scale included 17 items grouped into three reason factors (Process/Competence, Interests/Values, and Complexity/ Uncertainty), which is largely consistent with previous research. We find a mixed pattern of global and specific impacts on reason likelihood ratings from a range of variables including political ideology and conspiracist ideation (primary mediated through perceived credibility of science), science knowledge, and topic-related variables such as knowledge of and care about the dispute in question. Overall, science dispute reasons appear to be more strongly driven by attitudes and worldviews as opposed to objective knowledge and skills. These findings represent progress in understanding lay perceptions of the causes of scientific disputes, although much work remains. We discuss the implications of this work and directions for future research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numbere0211269
    JournalPloS one
    Volume14
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Feb 1 2019

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    Dissent and Disputes
    demographic statistics
    uncertainty
    Individuality
    Mental Competency
    Uncertainty
    Demography
    Direction compound
    testing
    Research

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

    Cite this

    Why do scientists disagree? Explaining and improving measures of the perceived causes of scientific disputes. / Dieckmann, Nathan; Johnson, Branden B.

    In: PloS one, Vol. 14, No. 2, e0211269, 01.02.2019.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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