What's wrong with science? Has science become a (contested) belief system?

David R. Low, Lynne Eagle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Disagreement with scientific evidence is manifest across a wide range of issues impacting on health, well-being and environmental issues. The purpose of this discussion is to review the nature of the disagreement across three broad sectors - climate change, vaccine hesitancy and adoption of renewable energy technology - highlighting commonalities in the rejection of scientific consensus and in the way opposition is organised and communicated.
The paper reviews the literature relating to scientific disagreement, the challenges of scientific certainty, weaknesses in relevant theories, and a range of challenges to effective scientific communication. A brief analysis of government and sceptics' websites is provided to illustrate these challenges.
There are distinct differences between the approaches taken by governmental communicators and sceptics, with implications for the way that risk and uncertainty should be communicated in future. Recommendations for improving communications to lay audiences are provided together with directions for future research.
This paper is primarily conceptual. The issue addressed in this paper would benefit from research that identifies the optimal communications strategies that will be effective across different population segments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-126
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Business
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


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