Psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg recently wrote about why people resist the counter-intuitive findings of science and concluded their essay with a plea for trust:
The community of scientists has a legitimate claim to trustworthiness that other social institutions, such as religions and political movements, lack. The structure of scientific inquiry involves procedures, such as experiments and open debate, that are strikingly successful at revealing truths about the world. All other things being equal, a rational person is wise to defer to a geologist about the age of the earth rather than to a priest or to a politician.
Given the role of trust in social learning, it is particularly worrying that national surveys reflect a general decline in the extent to which people trust scientists. To end on a practical note, then, one way to combat resistance to science is to persuade children and adults that the institute of science is, for the most part, worthy of trust.
The whole trust issue is something I have been writing and warning about for years. It doesn't matter how smart and knowledgeable someone is if they don't have the trust of their target audience. Because without this trust, the average person will simply conclude the speaker is using his/her high intelligence and great knowledge to carefully and selectively "frame" the issue. But sometimes, the problem can be even more basic than this. To show this, let us use Paul Bloom himself as a case study.