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John Cook: Using inoculation and critical thinking to counter climate science denial

5:00 PM, Friday 28 May 2021 EDT (1 hour 15 minutes)
Misinformation about climate change confuses the public, reduces support for mitigation policies, and cancels out accurate information. Inoculation theory offers one approach to effectively neutralize the influence of misinformation. With inoculation, misinformation is delivered in a “weakened form” by warning of the threat of being misled along with counterarguments explaining the misleading techniques within denialist claims.  In order to identify reasoning fallacies within misinformation, first denialist claims must be deconstructed and analyzed in order to systematically establish denialist techniques. I'll outline a strategy based on critical thinking methods to analyze and detect poor reasoning contained within denialist claims. Finally, I’ll describe recent research into developing practical inoculations, including critical thinking interventions, humor-based messages, and gamification.

  • Cook, J.,Ellerton, P., andKinkead, D. (2018). Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors. Environmental Research Letters, 11(2).
  • Cook, J., Lewandowsky, S., & Ecker, U. (2017). Neutralizing misinformation through inoculation: Exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence. PLOS ONE, 12(5): e0175799

Monash University
Research Fellow, Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub
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