Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”

I’m quite fascinated by this term that has been used in conjunction with politics and climate change. I find it fascinating and increasingly frustrating, that scientific evidence can be overcome through induced ignorance or doubt. Climate change denialism, homeopathy, big tobacco and GMO’s are all fields where ideology and self-interest drive efforts aimed at clouding or disputing scientific fact. Closer to home, I often find in conversations with colleagues and friends, that scientific proof or overwhelming evidence is not enough to shake what are essentially beliefs.

For example, I was talking to a person recently who firmly believes in the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies, despite overwhelming evidence that suggests otherwise. This person is very intelligent, very qualified and has experience in the health sciences, yet despite the evidence, they still believe that homeopathy treatments actually work. It never ceases to amaze me at just how irrational we humans really are, yet we all tend to believe that we can objectively evaluate without bias. This is especially interesting when you consider that these same flawed humans have created organisations like governments, corporations and universities; organisations that are obsessed with objectivity and quantitative measures of performance.

The trouble is, humans are not equipped to be truly objective, we have a blind spot when it comes to our own biases. Simply put, our view of the world is passed through our own cognitive filter and we not very good at processing and acting upon information received. I think this is worth thinking about as we try to employ learning analytics as a foundation for evidence-based learning and teaching.


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