Motivated rejection of (climate) science: causes, tools, and effects

15 March 2016, 4.30 PM - 15 March 2016, 5.45 PM

Prof Steve Lewandowsky

University Of Bath, 8 West 3.22 lecture theatre, BA2 7AY, Bath

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Abstract:  Although the relevant scientific community long ago settled on the conclusion that human economic activities are causing climate change through the emission of greenhouse gases, a small but vocal number of dissenters remains unswayed by the evidence. I examine the cognitive and motivational factors that underlie the rejection of scientific evidence, and I illustrate the techniques by which contrarians seek to shape public debate and mislead the public. I also show how contrarian activities have seeped into the scientific community and have arguably altered the interpretation of the risks posed by climate change.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky is a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol. He was an Australian Professorial Fellow from 2007 to 2012, and was awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council in 2011. He held a Revesz Visiting Professorship at the University of Amsterdam in 2012, and received a Wolfson Research Merit Award from the Royal Society upon moving to the UK in 2013. His research examines people's memory, decision making, and knowledge structures, with a particular emphasis on how people update information in memory. He has published over 140 scholarly articles, chapters, and books, including numerous papers on how people respond to corrections of misinformation and what variables determine people’s acceptance of scientific findings. (See for a complete list of scientific publications.)

Professor Lewandowsky is an award-winning teacher and was Associate Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition from 2006-2008. His research has been funded continuously since 1990 by public agencies in 5 countries. He has also contributed nearly 50 opinion pieces to the global media on issues related to climate change "skepticism" and the coverage of science in the media. He is currently serving as Digital Content Editor for the Psychonomic Society and blogs routinely on cognitive research at

You are welcome to join us for afternoon tea and prior discussions in the 'Wessex Restaurant from 16:00-16:25

I-SEE seminars are free and open for all to attend.

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