Yale legal scholar to discuss public perceptions of science

Published: August 29 2013

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A Yale professor will give a free lecture Sept. 11 at the University of Florida on how to share scientific information while being mindful of people’s beliefs.

Dan Kahan will explore the obstacles in creating a more open dialogue to discuss scientific topics like climate change. Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at Yale Law School, and a member of the Cultural Cognition Project, an interdisciplinary team of scholars who use empirical methods to examine the impact of group values on perceptions of risk and science communication.

His lecture will take place in Smathers Library Room 1A on the UF campus at 5:30 p.m.

Scientists and science writers commonly think that individuals who do not support their claims must not understand the science. Instead, an individual’s worldview often influences his or her conclusions about a particular scientific topic. These broad opposing worldviews make it difficult for individuals from different social groups to engage in constructive dialogue about science.

So Kahan’s goal is to share ways in which disseminating scientific information doesn’t also threaten those personal beliefs, and remains sensitive to their perception of the world.

His discussion is in the first in the series “Civil” Society? On the Future Prospects of Meaningful Dialogue,” which was organized by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere at UF and seeks to explore how we can improve the climate of political discussion in the United States.

In the fall, three presentations will explore why individuals, groups, and nations have difficulties sharing information and engaging in productive dialogue about life-and-death issues such as climate change, race and collective history. The three spring lectures will suggest how people might foster conditions that will bring them closer together, or at least help them to enter into broader discussion about the human condition.

The series is co-sponsored by the Rothman Endowment at the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere with support from the Office of Sustainability, UF Libraries, Honors Program, department of history, department of English, and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program.

All events are free to the public and include time afterward for questions and discussion.


Sean Adams, humanities-center@ufl.edu, 352-392-0796

Category:Announcements, InsideUF, Top Stories