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Workshop myth debunking

Workshop for science communication student conference on April 22, in Utrecht

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Workshop myth debunking

  1. 1. Workshop Myth Debunking 22 april 2016 Eva Teuling & Annette ter Haar SciComNL
  2. 2. Eva Teuling • BSc/MSc in Biology at Wageningen University (2003) • PhD in molecular/neurobiology, ErasmusMC (2008) • Postdoc Genetics, UMCG • Science communication (since 2011) – Exhibitions, developing teaching material and more outreach activities (Science LinX, RUG) – Writing ( – Board of SciComNL • @evateuling on twitter
  3. 3. Annette ter Haar • Studied museology, • Trained as an exhibition maker • President of SciComNL • @annetteterhaar on twitter Tips/ recommended reading: • “Be prepared to stand alone” – lecture Roger Pielke • “Provide context” - TED-tak Yuval Noah Harari or read the book • “Uncertainty is to be expected” - read the BINC Manifesto and here • “Know how people learn” - Watch TED-talk by Pedro de Bruyckere and read this presentation
  4. 4. Myth debunking? • There is a lot of nonsense about science around, e.g. on social media • Sometimes, I try to start a discussion (it can be fun – but sometimes not) • I used: Myth Debunking Handbook  All science communicators should know about this!
  5. 5. Why this workshop? • As a science communicator, you should be able to provide people with correct knowlegde • Also outside of your work • Nonsense is spreading fast in times of social media • Debunking myths is not easy! • Tips & tricks from the handbook and from us
  6. 6. The familiarity backfire effect • The more you mention the myth, the more people will believe it • Focus on the fact you wish to communicate
  7. 7. The overkill backfire effect • The more counter- arguments you provide, the more succesfull you’ll be…? • No! • A simple myth is more attractive than an over- complicated (but correct) correction
  8. 8. The worldview backfire effect • For people that are fixed in their views, counter-arguments can strengthen their views (myths) • Framing in the correct way • Emotions are VERY important • Do NOT (never, ever) ridicule people’s believe in discusssions!
  9. 9. Filling the gap with alternatives • A gap is created by removing the myth • Replace with an alternative explanation
  10. 10. Conclusions • Focus on the FACT you wish to communicate and do not mention the myth • Do not overdo the FACTS, do not use too difficult arguments • Think about how to frame the FACTS • Fill the gap left by the myth with alternatives • Use graphics • Do NOT NEVER EVER ridicule people you talk to! • Take emotions VERY seriously
  11. 11. Highly recommended reading: Nature, december 2015
  12. 12. Cases: 1. On a party, someone claims that climate change is NOT caused by humans and is normal variation in temperature 2. Your pregnant sister-in-law tells you she will not vaccinate your future nephew because vaccins are full with chemicals (and cause autism) 3. Your aunt tells everybody how homeopathy cured her from migrains 4. The board of your school organizes a team-day on how to cope with different learning styles of your students. 5. Your personal trainer at the gym tells you that when you cut down on E-numbers, you will be healthier and lose weight
  13. 13. Now you: • Choose your favourite myth/situation • Write a response in groups (20 min) • Discussion of the answers • Follow SciComNL on Facebook and Twitter (@scicomNL) for interesting reads, discussions and more • Become a member!