In Washington, D.C., revelers and protesters are marking the ascendance of a new president and the populist movement he says he has mobilized.Is this a joke? Psychologists want to lecture us on scientific thinking and fake news?
Some 1,600 miles away in San Antonio, thousands of psychologists from around the world are also marking the dawn of the Trump era by focusing their attention on the thought processes that prompt some people to resist and reject science. Matters for which there is a broad scientific consensus — including man-made climate change, the safety of childhood vaccines and Darwin’s theory of evolution — have been attacked as hoaxes and lies by senior members of the new administration.
Psychologists have come up with a name for this trend: the “anti-enlightenment movement.”
To better understand it, these professional observers of human behavior will draw from a recent election campaign in which fake news exploded, conspiracy theories flourished and derision was heaped on elites of all kinds.
“We were motivated by anxiety,” said social psychologist Matthew Hornsey, who organized a symposium on the issue for this weekend’s annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
Psychology, more than any other field, has been a big source of fake science news. More bogus research comes out of Psychology than anywhere. From the top universities on down, probably half the published papers are completely worthless.
It is also one of the most politicized. There are no social psychologists who are conservatives. I doubt that you could even find 1% of them who would use the term at all. Pretty much all psychologists live in some sort of bubble that is detached from science and reality.
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