Science Con-Artists & the Credibility Games

assembled by Douglas Allchin
e-mail: allchindouglas [at] gmail [dot] com

  • (1) DOWNLOAD this HTML presentation (ZIP file)

  • (2) DOWNLOAD Teachers Guide with a "script" of comments and questions to pose students for inquiry discussion. (PDF)

  • (3) DOWNLOAD embedded "Credibility Game #1: Fantastic Beasts" (ZIP file of images and HTML presentation)

    Supplemental Resources:

  • Slide Table of Contents

      The Problem: Trust and Credibility of Public Scientific Claims
    1. science con-artist
    2. fake news
    3. hoaxers, anti-vaxxers
    4. Who cares about reliable facts?: scientists, journalists, military intelligence, grand juries
    5. trust

      Credibility Game #1:Fantastic Beasts (Marvels & Monsters) (see separate download above)
      "What can be believed -- AND WHY?"

      Overview of Science Mediation
    6. network, mediated trust
    7. Figure 1. mediated structure of science communication
    8. Figure 2. ontogeny of a scientific fact in society -- "from test tube to YouTube"
    9. Figure 3. role of gatekeepers & challenge of social media

    10. Credibility Game #2:
    11. To Tell the Truth
    12. Who is the scientist?
    13. Who is the relevant scientific expert?
    14. Who speaks for the scientific consensus?

      Credibility Game #3: Find the Expert
    15. varieties of expertise: plumber; auto mechanic; dentist; lawyer
    16. expertise for students?: cell-phone repair; pregnancy; STD

      Science Con-artists
    17. Figure 4. competing claims from experts and science con-artists
    18. historic con-artistry: Subtle in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist
    19. conjuring science: Strategies to Gain Trust (Science Con-Artistry)
    20. (1) Style
    21. Fox News style
    22. (2) disguise
    23. IPCC vs. NIPCC
    24. (3) social emotions: anti-vaxxers
    25. Plaquemines, LA
    26. sociologics
    27. teacher & his student walk-out
    28. (4) conjuring doubt
    29. Merchants of Doubt, the film
    30. (5) Flooding the Media
    31. gaming Google

      Credibility Game #4:
    32. "Bluff the Listener" -- students practicing the art of the con

    33. Tracing scientific claims
    34. Figure 1 [reprise]: Mediation of science via gate-keeper journalists
    35. Game/Role Play: students as science news editors [Washington Post team]

      Credibility Game #5:
    36. Rehearsal as a Science Consumer -- "Do cell phones cause cancer?"

      Problem of Social Media
    37. FIgure 4 [reprise]: consumer of science news
    38. social media
    39. spread of lies -- farther, faster, broader than truth on Twitter
    40. Truth Will Out?
    41. Red Queen problem of fact-checking & fake news
    42. social media syndromes: confirmation bias, filter bubbles, echo chmbers, false-consensus effects

    Further Resources
    1. books
    2. videos
    3. activities

    4. science con-artist: Are you prepared?