Issues Magazine

Articles about critical thinking

Lies, Damn Lies, and Science

By Stephan Lewandowsky, Gilles Gignac & Klaus Oberauer

Conspiratorial thinking is a major element in the rejection of a broad range of scientific findings, from climate change to tobacco, vaccinations, GM foods and the moon landing. But why?

Prince Phillip runs the world drug trade, the 9/11 attacks in the US were an “inside job” of the Bush administration, and US President Barak Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate is a forgery. Oh, and climate change is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who just want more government grant money.

Stephan Lewandowsky is a Winthrop Professor at the University of Western Australia. Gilles Gignac earned his PhD at Swinburne University, and now specialises in statistics and psychometrics. Klaus Oberauer is Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Zurich.

The Monty Hall problem: going with your gut will get your goat

By Adrian Dudek

Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Is it to your advantage to switch your choice?

The game show host adjusts his bow tie and flashes you an oh-so-wicked smile as he brings your attention to three closed doors.

“Behind one of these doors is the prize of your dreams!” he announces excitedly. “But oh – do choose wisely! There’s nothing to be won from choosing the other two doors.”

The truth is out there - So how do you debunk a myth?

By John Cook

John Cook set out to debunk two climate myths by exploiting the psychology of misinformation.

Debunking myths requires an understanding of the psychological research into misinformation. But getting your refutation out in front of lots of eyeballs is a whole other matter.

Here, I look at two contrasting case studies in debunking climate myths.

If you don’t do it right, you run the risk of actually reinforcing the myth. Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to avoid any potential backfire effects.