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Yes, very good thoughts. For me, I see science as strategic thinking before I see it as a collection of knowledge. There are some very basic thinking tools that near anyone can use, even children, and further scientific concepts are additional pools to draw upon. Often, people do have an intuitive experience with natural phenomena, and that relationship is accurately perceived, but analytical scientific reasoning provides another lens through which to look. Such a lens can give deeper insights, and importantly, challenge false assumptions. For instance, nudging children into applying scientific inquiry on why they think the sky is blue is a great introduction to some important science concepts.

Anyway, thanks for the chat!

    People need the ability to reevaluate what they know.

I find it very rewarding surrounding myself with people who set out to see where they are wrong. I am disappointed that we do live with quick access to information, but we aren't in the habit of checking things out before communicating them as facts. I would love to see a cultural shift that socially rewarded people who admitted when they were wrong rather than rewarding people for stubborn and superficial confidence.

I also wish it wasn't such a taboo to politely point out that someone's facts are likely mistaken and to suggest further research.

Cool, thanks for clarifying. Please allow me to use some of your previous comments as a springboard.

I think that people often over-generalise and forget that an individual might not think so critically in one area of their life, but do think critically in other regards. Critical-thinking is certainly a skill that can be practised and improved, but the way I look at it is that most people have something to tap into. For instance, instead of simply dismissing an anti-vaccinationist as stupid or illiterate, I would try to find a way to use their current motivated skepticism on other issues that might not be so guarded by strong beliefs, then work from there.

The thing is, pretty much everyone has their own blindspots. Bill Nye was previously taking an anti-GMO stance, but could we say he lacked critical thinking? Perhaps in one way, but the main strategy was getting him to extend his critical thinking to some of his other beliefs and assumptions.

Therefore, to me, I don't think the main issue is a lack of critical thinking, but rather an issue of helping each other be more aware and conscious of our beliefs, biases, and worldviews.

If you want more, feel free to ask when you're ready. There are some very intriging studies that have re-shaped and challenged some previously established views and these are interesting times in the science of science communication. I don't want to overload you, so if something from PNAS catches you and you want to follow a specific trail, come back and ask me a few questions and I'll see if I have something for you.

Edit: To clarify, I mean I don't want to overload you with things that might not be interesting to you.

    In my opinion, all that is needed is a general change the people's spirits regarding their thinking. People, in general, lack critical and scientific thinking.

Let's test this opinion to see if the evidence supports it meaningfully. Do you have some peer-reviewed literature that makes a strong case for your opinion? I understand that this is an easy assumption to make, but are you basing your opinion on actual research, or upon your intuitions?

Next, what recommendations do contemporary researchers make who study these areas? Are they really saying that critical thinking skills ought to be the main focus? Where does this emphasis on critical thinking skills fit in with modern rebuttals to the Information deficit model

That knowledge is important and I won't argue such concepts aren't important in understanding science, but I also want to raise the idea that science literacy might be better described by the "how" such concepts are learned rather than exactly what is learned. Similar to learning language and literature, there are always new concepts to learn, and that's a part of being literate, but it's the underlying tools and strategies that really define someone as literate.

There are many people who can absorb and communicate facts. When called upon, they can provide the "correct" answer. Unfortunately, such recitation sometimes only mimics literacy because it doesn't bring with it the essential understanding that extends onto other areas.

Science literacy, to me, is best demonstrated when someone does not know a concept, but sufficiently applies strategic scientific inquiry to get an answer.

The concepts you mention are better seen as ideas we can cut our teeth on to gain better understanding of how science can be done.

Hey there, Caeli.

This topic of yours, is to me, one of the most fascinating and frustrating. While I do believe that there is a lot of actual scientific illiteracy, contemporary research has been challenging many of our previous misconceptions within science communication in many counter-intuitive ways. For example, when we look at issues such as anti-vaccination, climate change denial, and so on, research shows that such notions are often held by educated and intelligent people. Such findings contrast the scientifically-illiterate stereotype.

We are finding that factors such as beliefs and values are immensely important -- sometimes more important than facts themselves. Consider how difficult it is to convince someone of something if those facts are contrary to a worldview or social circle belief. Accepting some facts can cause social isolation and alienation.

Really, education is important for deeper understanding, but basic science literacy isn't so difficult to grasp. Often it's a strong start to just teach some basic research skills and inspire enough interest to use those skills. People can always go deeper into knowledge, but we don't all need to spend years in every subject to grasp the most relevant information for our personal lives or to get a reasonable sense for differentiating accurate information.

PNAS has a good intro with their collection of free literature on science communication: 1 2

Check out Dan Kahan et al. as well. His work shook some of my preconceived notions.