Accurate information is critical to sound decision-making. However, misinformation, i.e. the myth, can become pervasive and entrenched, making it difficult to challenge. A common misconception about removing the influence of the myth is the so-called “Information Deficit Model”. This assumes that public misperceptions are due to a lack of knowledge, and that providing more information will dispel the myth. This model is just plain wrong. People don’t process information as simply a hard drive downloading data … beliefs don’t work like that. The psychology involved with beliefs makes debunking myths problematic. Unless great care is taken, any effort to debunk misinformation can inadvertently reinforce the very myths one seeks to correct. To avoid these “backfire effects”, an effective debunking strategy requires an approach that is informed by the complex psychology of belief. One such approach has been offered by John Cook and Stephan Lewandowksy in “The Debunking Handbook”.

Scot Haire received his BS/MS in Aero Engr from UTA and his PhD in Mech Engr from Stanford University, and now works in Algorithm Development for Missile Defense. He grew up in TX as a practicing born-again, evangelical, Southern Baptist Christian. Through an earnest attempt to solidify a credible defense of his faith, he became an atheist. Today he is an active atheist, secularist, and skeptic; a member of American Atheists and Freedom From Religion Foundation; co-founder and former VP of the Atheist Community of San Jose; and doer of good deeds in the never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.

This ACSJ speaker event is free and open to the public.

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