Cultural cognition and its effects on the interpretation of scientific information

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Cultural cognition and its effects on the interpretation of scientific information
Nolan, Kyle
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Cultural Cognition and its Effects on the Interpretation of Scientific Information
By Kyle Nolan
An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial completion of the Metropolitan State University of Denver Honors Program
May 2016
Carol Jensen
Dr. Sheryl Zajdonicz
Dr. Megan Hughes-Zarzo Honors Program Director
Primary Advisor
Second Reader

An Analysis of Cultural Cognition
How Our Values Influence Opinions on Science
Kyle J. Nolan
Metropolitan State University of Denver May 2016
The Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School focuses on explaining how an individual's cultural values (i.e. their views of an ideal society) shape their opinions on risk perception (Kahan, Jenkins-Smith, & Braman, 2011). Scientific evidence that opposes an individual's cultural values is likely to be viewed as false, regardless of the validity of the information. Even in the face of scientific issues that are well supported by extensive evidence, such as global warming or vaccines, people are likely to disregard the information if it opposes their cultural viewpoints. In addition to cultural values, individuals also hold separate sets of personal values. These are highly individualized and they determine the areas in life that demand that individual's attention. While cultural values determine where an individual looks for their information, personal values determine what information is sought after. Despite the Cultural Cognition Project's argument that opinions on science are influenced only by cultural values, it is a combination of cultural and personal values that determine how an individual feels about scientific topics.

The Impact of Morals and Values in Making Informed Opinions
Our ability to make decisions is often guided by what is believed to be true and these beliefs are often determined by sets of values that an individual closely adheres to. In making informed decisions, personal values will often guide how information is interpreted. If the presented information appears to contradict these values, its meaning has a larger possibility of becoming dismissed, regardless of its validity. Factually supported scientific information can easily become disputed in such cases because certain findings may appear to contradict an individuals values. It is important to discuss the various theories of values development in order to understand why there is an underlying tendency to dispute factual scientific information. These include theories for moral development, as well as those for the development of personal and cultural values.
American psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg established one of the most well developed theories on moral development. The basis of Kohlbergs theory was based on his work with young white males and their responses to a particular moral dilemma.
A man's wife is dying of cancer and the only pharmacist selling the drug that can save her life refuses to sell it at a fair price. Out of desperation the man breaks into the pharmacy and steals the drug, should he have done this? (Edge & Groves 2006) The information was gathered from 72 lower and middle-class boys, and it was utilized in the development of a six-stage process for moral development (Doorey 2014). His theory on moral development is divided into three main sections of adolescence, each of which contains two sub-stages of development. The three

sections which will be discussed are; 1) Pre-conventional morality, 2) Conventional morality, and 3) Post-conventional morality.
Stage one (Pre-conventional Morality) involves children between the ages of two and seven. "Although infants are essentially amoral, very young children are moral in a rather primitive way... (Edge & Groves, 2006, p.18). Though children of this age do not yet have the capability of developing or understanding moral decisions, they have rudimentary understandings of the impacts that certain decisions may have. This level of morality is divided into two sub-stages known as the Reward and Punishment stage and the Individualism and Exchange stage (Edge & Groves 2006). During these stages, individuals begin to learn that certain decisions hold negative or positive consequences, which can lead to an understanding of how particular decisions may be considered moral or amoral. In addition, it is learned that people often have individual desires that they strive to achieve. During this stage, moral decisions are often made based on achieving these individual desires.
The second stage (Conventional Morality) is initially undergone during the ages of seven to twelve. Interestingly, Kohlberg determined that this level of moral development is where individuals will find themselves most of the time, even during adult life. Therefore, he considered this to be conventional morality. The sub-sets at this level are Good Boy/ Good Girl morals and Law and Order morals (Edge &
Groves 2006). "[Children at this age will] conform to the societal expectations of family or group in order to win the approval of authority figures (Edge & Groves, 2006, p.18). It seems that this level of moral development focuses mainly on

following the rules of society, whereas Pre-conventional Morality develops an understanding of these rules. These stages are considered to be conventional because they are the morals that conform to social expectations, which includes respecting rules, social order, and respect for authority (Edge & Groves 2006).
It appears that these stages are mainly extensions of the reward and punishment stage during pre-conventional moral development. Children who grow up realizing that their actions are associated with appropriate consequences are more likely to conform to the law and order stage of conventional morals than those who do not or cannot make these connections. These conforming individuals are more likely to make communitarian-based decisions. On the other hand, individuals who refuse to recognize the relationship between actions and consequences are more likely to follow an individualistic route with regards to moral decisions. This distinction may become a very important source of influence later in life when it comes to making decisions based on factual information.
Lastly, the final level of Kohlbergs theory (Post-conventional Morality) becomes important during the ages of twelve and above. "The focus of this level is the development of the social contract and autonomous decision making apart from outside authorities (Edge & Groves, 2006, p.19). The sub-stages presented during this level of morality include Social Contract and Individual Rights, and Universal Principles (Edge & Groves 2006). During these stages, individuals begin to believe that successful societies are based on social contracts, or the willingness of people to work toward the greater good of the people. With this comes equal rights and moral standing for all individuals.

While Kohlbergs theory of moral development is highly regarded as an adequate guideline for how morals are developed during adolescence, there has been strong opposition to his theory. One of the most developed theories of opposition is by psychologist, Carol Gilligan, a colleague of Kohlberg during their time teaching at Harvard University (Medea n.d.). She believed that Kohlbergs information was significantly biased in favor of male opinion. Since Kohlbergs theory was based on information gathered from interviews with only males, she believed that his theory was not suitable for females. She developed a theory that stated there were two different paths of development, one for males and a separate one for females.
Her theory was influenced by observations made from watching children play with one another. She noticed that when male children play, they have a tendency to play long and complicated games with established sets of rules. Often times, disputes were settled by referring back to these rules. Girls, however, played less complicated games that often ended when disputes would arise (Edge & Groves 2006). These observations led Gilligan to believe that boys and girls undergo separate paths with regards to developing their moral guidelines. Males tend to adhere to a path of law and order, whereas girls follow a path of moral understanding or social contract.
Gilligan proposed a theory of moral development for women that is similarly structured to Kohlbergs. She proposed that women also undergo a series of three levels of moral development, which begins with a moral focus on self and transitions to a focus on others. In addition to her observations on children, she also conducted

numerous interviews with women regarding the topic of abortion. These findings further suggest that the development of female morals begins with a focus on self, which is supported by the tendency of young women to opt for abortion rather than continue with an unwanted pregnancy (Gilligan, 1985). As women begin to develop morally, Gilligan noticed that their focus would shift from self to non-self (1985). This shift occurs due to an increased awareness of the impact that their actions have on others and their subsequent desire to avoid causing them harm (Doorey 2014).
Although Kohlbergs theory appears to be a sufficient model for the moral development of individuals in early childhood, there has been significant opposition to his theory. The early stages of Kohlbergs theory, mainly pre-conventional moral development, should be considered viable to both male and female children. However, during mid-adolescence theres strong evidence proposed by Gilligan that males and females diverge in the development of their morals. Males will follow a path that is centered more around justice and obtaining appropriate outcomes for choices depending on social rules. Oppositely, females will develop morals that increasingly depend on relationships and social contracts based on transitions from selfishness to selflessness (Gilligan, 1985). Considering that Gilligans theory redefines half of the population, while still acknowledging the development of males, her theory should be considered more relevant to the dynamics of American society.
Developing a moral compass early in life helps guide people to make decisions that are appropriate for the society in which they live. Gilligan described the "essence of moral decisions as having the ability to accept responsibilities for

the choices we make (1985). The development of morals can be highly influenced by the environment in which an individual is raised as a child, which may include familial, governmental, and/or religious influences. Although there is a possibility for these to change during a lifetime, most of our morals will remain static throughout. On the other hand, our personal values and the goals that arise from them are likely to change a considerable amount as we progress through life. Dr. John Demartini, an internationally renowned speaker and leading authority on human behavior and personal development, has proposed a theory known as The Values Factor, which attempts to describe how our highest values in life guide our actions and opinions (Demartini 2013).
The Values Factor is a theory that everyone maintains a set of personal values that is related to areas of each persons life that are held in the highest esteem.
These areas are defined by their ability to give us our defining traits. In essence, they are the things that we love to do, the goals that we strive to achieve and the aspects of life that we live for. Every action made by an individual is guided, either consciously or subconsciously, by their current set of personal values. Demartini argues that, "living according to your [personal] values is the secret to living an inspired and fulfilling life (2013, p.8).
There are several ways in which an individual may identify their personal values. First, the areas of life that we perceive as lacking can help to determine what we value most (Demartini, 2013). Such voids usually arise during childhood, but they change and adapt as we proceed throughout life. As one void is fulfilled, an additional void is created as we grow and mature. It may not be inherently obvious

what goals are being pursued by our actions, which is why identifying deficient areas in life can be so beneficial for focusing them.
A second way for identifying ones personal values is to identify the areas of life that demand our attention. These are aspects of life that are much more likely to receive an input of focus and energy in an attempt to adequately nourish them. According to Demartini, these areas help to define what he calls our "attention surplus order (2013, pl9). The personal values that are derived from these areas in life are what help to guide our attention, retention, and intention (Demartini, 2013, p.19). Attention is naturally going to be drawn to stimuli that support these values, such as an expecting mother whose eye is naturally drawn toward ads for baby merchandise in the Sunday paper. Following the attentive response, the acquired information has a higher probability of being retained. The expecting mother is more likely to remember which stores were holding sales for baby clothes than she would for the sporting goods store holding a sale on fishing gear. Lastly, our values guide the intentions of our actions to fulfill our values, such that the expecting mother would go out of her way to attend the sale at the store.
Demartini argues that our personal values are the main driving-force behind identifying our goals and the actions that are associated with achieving those goals. Our morals, according to Demartini, are only in place to guide us toward "socially acceptable ways of thinking and behaving, which only work to guide us to what actions we "should/oughtto/have to do (Demartini, 2013, p. 11). Although our morals may guide us toward what we "should/ought to/ have to do, they also strongly lead us to believe what we are ethically allowed to do.

Although Demartini suggests that it is our personal values that mostly guide our actions, our morals also heavily influence the decision making process. Take the instance of a young woman who grew up in a home whose members were devoutly religious. Due to their religion, the womans individuality was strictly controlled based on the expectations that her parents and parishioners placed on her. She was continuously told what she was allowed to wear and whom she could associate herself with. There were a number of times during her childhood that she was forced to miss out on activities with friends due to her parents constraint.
As the young woman progressed into young adulthood, she recognized her lack of independence as a child. This acknowledged void caused her to place great personal value on her independence once she was able to live on her own. She continued to practice her religion and retained the moral lessons that it instilled upon her; however, she did not allow this to prevent her from living an independent lifestyle. She felt fulfilled and happy that for once in her life, she was fully responsible for only herself.
At one particular time in her life, she is charged with making an extremely difficult decision after discovering that she is pregnant. Her religious background strictly forbids abortion, so her morals instantly eliminate that decision as an option. However, this decision causes a direct conflict between her morals and personal values, as her value of independence could not possibly be fulfilled if she has the baby. She risks violating her morality if she aborts the baby and she risks violating her personal value of independence if she has the baby, so her eventual

decision is to place the baby up for adoption. This final decision was heavily influenced by the womans morals and personal values.
Now although our personal values act as a guide in making decisions, the actual process of cognitive decision-making is in itself unique. It takes into account much more than just morals and values. Generalized cognitive reasoning can be broken down into three stages; the computational stage (why), the representation and algorithm stage (how), and the implementation stage (whereby) (Bender & Beller, 2013). This process pertains to making even rudimentary decisions, beginning with internal reasoning as to why a decision is being made. Then the mechanism by which this choice will be completed is analyzed, followed by a decision of what tools are going to be used to reach the conclusion.
For example, the decision to obtain water is made because of thirst. The mechanism for acquiring the water is by means of turning on the faucet at the sink. Lastly, an appropriate vessel for holding the water is chosen based on the circumstances. A similar decision to obtain water may be made, however the why might be because an individual requires a shower to get clean. In this instance the premise of the decision is the same, but further reasoning of the decision is altered based on the circumstances.
Our most frequent decisions are often made based on our physiological needs. During the mid-twentieth century, psychologist Abraham Maslow explored theories as to why humans are motivated to make decisions regardless of the associated rewards or unconscious desires (McLeod, 2014). Out of these theories came Maslows hierarchy of needs, an idea that our most basic, physiological needs

drive our motivations the most, followed in order by safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization (McLeod, 2014). In theory, the higher levels of necessity cannot be reached unless the lower levels have been adequately met.
On its most basic level, these motivations precede the development of pre-conventional morals, in which actions are directly related to rewards and desires. Within the first years of life, we are engrained with survival instincts that motivate us to cry when we are hungry or when we require safety from a parent. These years encompass a time prior to our moral development, but during this time we learn what is required to meet our most basic needs (i.e. we learn why we must make certain decisions). Although this hierarchy of needs is developed apart from morals and values, and Maslow argues that the hierarchy is driven by motivation separated from rewards and desires, our morals and values act as important guides for appropriately accomplishing the how and whereby steps of decision making.
Two very important aspects of Maslows hierarchy are the social and esteem levels. First, the social level is our inherent need for connection and belonging via the development of meaningful relationships. Second, the esteem level builds off of these relationships and motivates us to acquire status and respect from others (McLeod, 2014). These levels in the hierarchy are also fundamental to the cultural cognition project. This project, developed by a group of scholars at Yale Law School and headed by Dan M. Kahan, attempts to explain how holding particular opinions can be interpreted as being a risk to an individuals cultural values. The project is highly involved in analyzing decision-making processes with regards to topics such

as public policy and politics, as well as with the interpretation of scientific information (Yale Law School, n.d.).
Maslows social and esteem levels of needs are highly associated with risk perception because as a culture, we tend to associate ourselves with like-minded individuals. With many issues of this stature, it is often assumed that one persons opinions wont be able to change the issue as a whole, such as opinions on gun laws. However, a particular opinion does have the capacity to ostracize that person from their social group (Schrader & Shattell, 2013). Therefore, if information is presented in a manner that contradicts an individuals values, they will be more likely to disregard the information in order to preserve their social standing. In this regard, the individuals social and esteem needs are maintained.
According to the cultural cognition project, cultural values are based upon a "preferred vision of [a] good society (Kahan, 2006). Therefore, the values most commonly associated with the project reflect various stances of how society should be structured. On one hand are people who believe in an individualist culture with a defined hierarchical structure. These people are more likely to hold opinions related to autonomy that maintain a strict social structure. For example, with respect to gun regulations, a hierarchical/individualists opinion would be that gun laws restricting ownership would be detrimental to society by limiting law-abiding citizens the ability to defend themselves (Kahan, 2006). Therefore, any factual information supporting the efficacy of restrictive gun laws would be disregarded.
On the other hand are people who believe that society should be more egalitarian and structured around community as a whole. These individuals believe

that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
Egalitarian/communitarian centric people will therefore hold opinions that are less autonomous in order to provide equality to all within the society. Relating back to gun regulations, this type of individual would hold opinions that restrict gun ownership because widespread ownership of guns contradicts the idea of public safety (Kahan, 2006). Factual information that was presented to this group of people would be highly regarded as true.
A main stance of the project is that individuals base their opinions of public policy and science on perceived levels of risk. Our cultural values, such as individualism vs. communitarianism, highly influence what information is thought to be true or false, regardless of any legitimate facts supporting the information to be interpreted. This is similar to a phenomenon called conformation bias, which is experienced by many individuals in professions that form hypotheses about particular information, such as doctors, lawyers, detectives, etc. For example, a physician that makes an initial diagnosis about their patient is more likely to look for symptoms that support their initial hypothesis. Any information that contradicts this diagnosis is likely to be overlooked (Mendel, 2011). Similarly, information that supports an individuals values is more likely to be seen as valid as opposed to information that goes against these values.
While the interpretation of information itself is important to formulating opinions, the presentation of the information has been shown to be equally, if not more, influential toward convincing people of its validity. The assumed credibility of the presenter is often a major contributing factor in creating the ability of an

individual to not only recall the information, but also to regard it as fact. Experts who share an individuals cultural values are more likely to be seen as credible when compared to experts who dont share the same values (Kahan et al., 2011). Even if these experts are sharing the same factual information to their audience, theres a greater possibility that people who share values with the presenter will believe the validity of the information.
Often times with public policy, and even more so with understanding scientific findings, most people do not contain an appropriate frame of reference to fully understand the information at hand. This may be because they do not have any prior experience with the information, such as with individual not understanding the effects of global warming, or they do not acquire an understanding of the language that is used to convey the information. The later example can be a major issue for translating scientific jargon into laymen terms for the general public. Due to the absence of a reference frame for much information, individuals are forced to use inductive reasoning to formulate their opinions. "Inductive reasoning is concerned with drawing general conclusions from specific observations (Bender & Beller, 2013). It is inductive reasoning that causes people to either believe or deny information based on observations of the presenters cultural values.
Cultural cognition is therefore a combination of cultural values, conformation bias, and inductive reasoning that leads people to formulate personal opinions related to disputed matters of fact. Our cultural values affect the relationships that we cultivate and they guide us in maintaining our social identity. Additionally, these values create tendencies to filter information in a manner that affirms what we

believe is required for a society to flourish. This is with regards to the information that we seek (Confirmation bias) and the information that we choose to believe [Inductive reasoning).
As humans, we begin our lives with an inherent ability to cognitively reason. This begins with subconscious survival instincts that guide us to understanding why, how, and whereby certain decisions are made. As we progress through adolescence, our moral development begins to influence the decisions that we make based on what society has told us is appropriate. Later, as we begin to understand the dynamics of life, we develop highly regarded sets of personal values that guide us toward making decisions for ourselves on a personal level. It is only then that a combination of cognitive reasoning, morals, and personal values can be used to develop a set of cultural values. These cultural values help to define the personal opinions that are made on societal issues such as public policy and scientific advancement.
The Philosophy of Science
Science is a multifaceted and progressive field that is commonly misunderstood by the general public. Progress of science is often construed as occurring in a methodologically linear fashion: 1) research, 2) experiment, 3) results/advancement, 4) repeat; however the progression of science is a long, hard fought and dynamic process that often results in failure. There is no clear-cut scientific method, contrary to what is often taught to students, but the basis of science has been systematically improved since its rough development in the fourth century B.C.E. While this basis is commonly utilized by both social science

(psychology, sociology, history, etc.) and natural science (biology, chemistry, physics, etc.), the remainder of this discussion will refer mainly to the natural realm.
Prior to explaining the development of scientific philosophy, it would be beneficial to clarify some common terminology used in science. First of all, hypothesis is common term that has been commonly referred to as an "educated guess. Under this meaning, the term hypothesis is very unclear about what is actually being stated (McComas, 1996). The guess could be a speculation of how or why a particular phenomenon occurs, or it could be a prediction on the outcome of an experiment. Regardless of the words underlying intentions in any given situation, it should be recognized that a hypothesis is an attempt in assuming an educated conclusion prior to obtaining any supporting data via observation and/or experimentation.
In order to support or defy a hypothesis, science depends on gathering data that can be used to generate facts about a phenomenon. It is important to note that scientific facts cannot undisputedly prove a hypothesis. Scientific facts are built upon large amounts of evidence in the absence of contradicting information. Facts are derived from data that is collected from repeated observations of a phenomenon (Williams, 2008). So in other words, facts are simply similar and repeatable observations that have been made with regards to a particular situation.
Lastly, there is a large difference between a scientific theory and a scientific law. Both of which are derived from many repeated observations (i.e. supported by facts); however they have different scopes in what they explain. Laws tend to be long-lasting generalizations about the observable natural world. They are

descriptive and universal to phenomena that occur under a specific set of conditions (Williams, 2008). Theories, on the other hand, attempt to explain the generalizations that are made by laws (McComas, 1996). In general, theories may be adapted due to new information, but laws commonly remain static throughout time.
Although it appears that there is a hierarchy to these terms, with laws being above theories, these terms can exist independent of one another. For example, the law of gravity proposed by Isaac Newton was formulated in the absence of any plausible theories (McComas, 1996). Oppositely, the theory of evolution has long existed in the absence of any law regarding evolution and observable life.
Regardless of their differences, these terms have long been used in science despite drastic changes in the philosophy of science over time.
The origins of science can be traced back to roughly the fourth century B.C.E., where major advancements werent necessarily made by experimentation, but rather by philosophical thought and gross observations of the world. Two major contributors at the time were Plato and Aristotle, Greek philosophers who developed separate methods of obtaining conclusions about the functionality of the universe. Plato suggested that humans are born with all-encompassing innate knowledge about the universe that could only be understood via abstract thoughts. He believed that our life experiences were flawed and abstractly deducing the world around us was the only way to unlock our innate knowledge (Brown, 2015).
Aristotle disagreed with this theory of knowledge and suggested that it indeed was our experiences that should guide discovery. Via observations of the world, reliable principles could be deduced that would provide opportunities to

obtain testable results (Brown, 2015). Throughout history, modern scientific processes have more closely resembled Aristotles methods of thinking rather than Platos. Much of todays science heavily focuses on experimentation to obtain results, an idea that Plato regarded as not only unnecessary, but potentially distracting (Brown, 2015).
It would be roughly 2000 years before the Grecian origins of science would evolve from mainly philosophical based studies into an increasingly experimental based practice. The scientific revolution occurred between the 15th and 17th centuries during a time where scientific advancements became progressively utilitarian in nature. The goal of science during this time aimed to explain how phenomena occurred rather than why it occurred, which was the previous goal of Grecian philosophy (Brush, 2016). While Aristotle originally proposed an empirical model of science, the procedure of conducting modern day science can be traced back to the scientific revolution.
The development of scientific thought during the scientific revolution, similarly to that from the fourth century B.C.E, followed two main practices: Cartesian science and Baconian science. Rene Descartes was a French philosopher and scientist who developed his methods (Cartesian science) as an extension of those developed by Aristotle. He believed that nature and mankind were interrelated and the way to bridge the two required philosophical reasoning of natural phenomena (Reeves, 2013). This often required the integration of mathematics, a practice which Aristotle deemed unfit to explain the world. Cartesian theories attempt to explain the world in a broad sense, such that a wide array of

individual phenomena can be explained by one theory and explanations that do not fit with this theory are not considered to be valid (Reeves, 2013).
The counter-part to Descartes was Francis Bacon, an English philosopher and scientist. Baconian methods were truly revolutionary because they proposed an experiment-based model that advocated for scientists to actually interfere with the natural world in order to create observations (Reeves, 2013). In doing so, cause-and-effect relationships could be studied on an individual basis as opposed to creating mass assumptions about a multitude of observations, a process known as induction. In fact, Bacon strongly advised against the use of theories because they obstruct a clear view of individual, everyday experiences (Reeves, 2013). Theorizing ultimately constructed bias and Bacon suggested, "facts be assimilated without bias to reach a conclusion (McComas, 1996).
The fundamentals of both Cartesian and Baconian science are still used today, albeit they are known by different names. Cartesian methodology is commonly known as a top-down method of conducting science. With this method of study, theories are originally constructed based on a collection of observations. Experimentation can be subsequently performed to determine the extent to which the proposed theory fits worldly phenomena. An example of modern top-down science is Albert Einsteins theory of relativity, the extent of which is still being studied to this day.
Oppositely, Baconian science is known as a bottom-up style of science. This method is heavily reliant on observing experimental phenomena that can later be accumulated to formulate a theory. Rather than focusing on the overall question,

bottom-up scientists focus on pieces of the problem that may or may not be connected. Theories are later created that fit experimental findings based on a particular set of parameters, rather than encompassing the entire problem as a whole. An example of bottom-up science today is the study of cancer. A single theory cannot simply explain all phenomena of the illness because cancer is a multifaceted problem where each individual case is unique.
Descartes and Bacon provided a scaffold for which modern day scientific philosophy is based. Contributions have since been made that further legitimize science as a separate practice from ancient philosophy as proposed by Plato and Aristotle. During the 20th century, additional parameters were put in place that aid in defining scientific problems from philosophical ones.
Karl Popper, an Austrian-British philosopher and professor, recognized confirmation bias as a significant problem in scientific research. Obtaining positive results is "notoriously simple when attempting to verify a hypothesis or data and this results in a collection of circumstantial evidence (Hyslop-Margison, 2010). Therefore, Popper suggested that falsifiability be a requirement in determining scientific theories. In other words, problems and theories can only be deemed scientific if there is a possibility that they can become disproved (Hyslop-Margison, 2010).
Under the assumption of falsifiability, Popper further suggested that scientific advancements should include performing a series of conjectures and refutations. Scientists should derive theories based on conjectures, but rather than searching for evidence to support the theory, one should search for contradicting

evidence to the theory (McComas, 1996). The idea offalsiflability is that it only takes one piece of contradicting evidence against a theory to potentially make the theory invalid. While this idea is sound in determining which theories can be considered scientific, the suggestion of conjectures and refutations is unrealistic as there is a potentially limitless amount of data that could be collected to modify a theory.
In addition to Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn also contributed to scientific philosophy during the 20th century. Kuhn, an American physicist and philosopher, realized that the history of science followed a particular paradigm. This paradigm, which he called convergent thinking, was a pattern where scientists would conform to existing theories rather than proposing completely novel ideas (Hyslop-Margison, 2010). Not only does convergent thinking determine which theories are worthy of testing, it also has manipulated which evidence and experiments are considered admissible. Worthwhile scientific ideas can easily become rejected based on this paradigm, which has previously been witnessed with revolutionary theories such as the germ theory of disease (McComas, 1996). To combat this issue, Kuhn suggested that science embrace divergent thinking as a means of promoting novel ideas (Hyslop-Margison, 2010). Not only is science about obtaining additional amounts of information, it is about challenging previously acquired knowledge with novel and creative ideas (Konstantinos, 2010).
Philosophical interpretations of science as a whole have clearly been occurring since humans began attempting to decipher major questions of the universe. While these adaptations have altered how science is interpreted, the methods for conducting science have become greatly perceived as being based on

experimental design alone. The "traditional scientific method that is often taught to students follows a liner progression from one step to the next, until communicable results are produced. This progression begins with observations and background research. From the gathered information, a scientific question is asked and a testable hypothesis is derived. Experimentation follows and the data is determined to either support or contradict the hypothesis, which may be revised and re-tested if necessary. Only data that supports the hypothesis is worthy of being reported.
On the surface, this universal method of science appears highly applicable and productive. In reality, "the scientific method is a gross oversimplification and portrays the field as an uncreative assembly line of tested hypotheses. Science, on the contrary, is a dynamic and highly variable process that may begin at any point (refer back to top-down and bottom-up sciences). The only universal aspect of scientific endeavors is the goal of explaining naturally occurring phenomena. How scientists arrive at an explanation is highly variable and any data used to explain the phenomena are "idiosyncratic to particular investigative contexts (Karsai &
Kampis, 2010).
Science is perhaps more of an art than people realize. The beauty is that, regardless of how similar two experiments might be, different scientists will often arrive at separate conclusions. This is simply the nature of the creative process that is involved with interpreting scientific data (McComas 1996). Although this may seem counter-productive, the creative aspect helps to drive scientific progress by opening an entirely new realm of questions based on similar sets of data. Its also important to note that it is not the laboratory where science is completed, but its

the "investigative mind that conducts and progresses science (Karsai & Kampis, 2010). Famed Harvard educator and physics Nobel laureate Percy W. Bridgman once said, "In short, science is what scientists do, and there are as many scientific methods as there are scientists (Brown & Kumar, 2013).
In addition to a general misunderstanding of scientific methods, there are several other misconceptions about science that require attention. First, there is a misconception that carefully gathered evidence always leads to "sure knowledge (McComas, 1996). In reality, science produces a very large amount of negative data (in that it does not support a given theory or hypothesis). This is not to say that negative data indicates a failed experiment, quite the contrary in fact. Negative data is data nonetheless, which can be used to guide future experimentation and may even lead directly to the development of a new hypothesis.
Of the carefully collected data that does yield positive results, it is unwise to describe the findings as "sure knowledge. It was Francis Bacon who advocated the process of induction in analyzing individual observations in order to generate unbiased conclusions, a method that is commonly utilized today. However, it is important to recognize the problem of induction; it is impossible to make every conceivable observation about a particular situation at all given times, past, present and future (McComas, 1996). Similarly to all things, nature has the ability to change overtime. Therefore, conclusions cannot be considered "sure knowledge because the observations that aided in arriving at the conclusion may have changed over time.

This leads to another common misconception: that science produces absolute proof (McComas, 1996). Positive results may support a hypothesis, theory or law, but they can never absolutely prove anything. This refers back to Karl Poppers contribution offalsifiability; a scientific idea can only be considered science if there is the possibility of it becoming disproved via contradicting evidence. A defining hallmark that separates scientific knowledge from other forms of knowledge is its tentativeness. That is, that all scientific knowledge is subject to revision based on future findings (McComas, 1996). In all, science is fundamentally disconfirmational in that it may only take one contradiction to unravel a well-developed and thoroughly supported theory.
Despite the many failures that are inherently associated with science, these failures cannot overshadow the fact that sciences benefits to the progression of mankind have been enormous. Because of this, science remains a highly coveted area of national focus from various entities ranging from federal and academic institutions to privatized corporations. While federal entities receive direct funding from the government and privatized corporations obtain it from their shareholders investments, academia relies heavily on federal grants to obtain their funding.
The process of obtaining funding in the academic realm of research is overly intensive and competitive. Federal institutions such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide the largest proportion of federal and overall funding to university research programs. Established in 1950, the NSF is dedicated to funding non-medical related fields of science. Since this institution does not contain any internal research programs,

100% of their yearly budget is allocated to providing research grants (Davis & Laas, 2013). In the 2016 fiscal year, the NSF proposed a budget of approximately $7.7 billion that will fund an estimated 11,500 out of nearly 50,000 grant applications (NSF, 2014).
The NIH also provides substantial financial support for healthcare related research within the academic community. In contrast to the NSF, the NIH contains 27 internal "institutes that perform their own research projects (Davis & Laas, 2013). In 2016, the estimated budget for the NIH is approximately $31.8 billion, of which nearly $17.8 billion (55%) has been allocated for research project grants (HHS, 2015). Acceptance rates for grant applications to the NIH are similar to those of the NSF, which remains around 20% (Howard & Laird, 2013).
Considering that federal research grants are only awarded to approximately one out of every five applicants, competition to receive funding is relatively high. Other sources of federal funding are available, including departments such as NASA; however, their external research budget remains comparatively low at approximately $400 million per year (NASA, 2015). Additional sources of annual funding include the academic institutions themselves (20% of yearly academic research funding), private industry (5%), and non-profit organizations (7-8%) (Howard & Laird, 2013).
Fierce competition associated with obtaining grants is not caused only by a limited availability of funds, but it is also fueled by a significant increase in researchers seeking funding. In the midst of the space race during the 1950s and 60s, an average of 5,662 doctorate degrees were awarded per year. In todays

society, this number has risen nearly five-fold to approximately 27,000 doctorate degrees (Howard & Laird, 2013). At some point in these individuals careers it is safe to assume that they will attempt to obtain their own funding. Albeit not all of them will compete for the same funding, there is still a large flood a new grant applicants on an annual basis.
Although some competition is essential for ensuring that only the most promising projects receive funding, the extent to which it has grown has caused an overall burden on the scientific community. The 20% acceptance rate requires principle investigators (i.e. the head of a lab) to theoretically submit a minimum of five grant applications per-year in order to maintain their funding, each of which may take months of preparation prior to its submission. The cost of submitting grant applications, in terms of time and energy, places an overall burden on the remaining members of the lab such as post-docs and students. These individuals therefore are required to supply a large amount of the creative thinking that drives overall progress in the lab (Carlson, 2008). Despite this burden, it does not necessarily translate into poor science. What it does is stifle the progress of science by diverting the attention of the most experienced individuals (i.e. the principle investigators).
Unfortunately, the desire to maintain funding is not limited solely to the goal of keeping a lab running. Many institutions place an undesirable premium on obtaining grants in that they are tickets to promotions and higher incomes (Carlson, 2008). Sometimes, the prestige gained by obtaining grants is associated with scientific fraud. Such an instance occurred from 1997-2009 when anesthesiologist

Scott Reuben fabricated 21 papers associated with post-surgical pain management protocols. Considered to be at the forefront of anesthesiology research, Reuben had received extensive funding from Pfizer before an audit unraveled his falsified work (Borrell, 2009). Instances such as these are an unfortunate aspect of business in todays society and luckily for the science community, they are relatively rare. Fortunately, organizations such as the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) are in place to maintain the integrity of research within the United States.
While the acquisition of grants is one indicator of a successful scientist, the majority of scientific distinction is established through the publication of scientific papers. Up until the mid-17th century, scientific literature consisted mainly of published books. These works were a culmination of scientific information that may have consisted of an entire careers worth of work. Publication options for scientific information were limited until 1665 when the first scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions, entered publication by the Royal Society of London (Carey, 2013). Today, published journal articles are considered the gold standard for communicating scientific information. Not only do they provide a base of knowledge for future research, they also build scientific communities and bring validation to ones work via peer-review (Carey, 2013).
Published primary literature may serve as the gold standard for reporting research within the scientific community; however, the layperson cannot be expected to gather their information about science from these sources. Many journal articles require advanced knowledge of a particular field in order to fully

understand the significance of the stated findings. Although the Internet provides individuals with nearly endless information, surveys have shown that many people still rely on traditional media to gather information about science (Maier, Rothmund, Retzbach, Otto, & Besley, 2014). This requires that scientific information is relayed from its primary source to a secondary media source via scientific journalists.
As with any form of reporting, there is always going to be some level of inherent bias. The same can be said of scientific journalists. While scientists want to accurately inform the public about their research, a journalists job is to meet their audiences needs by producing "newsworthy stories. These stories are likely to contain certain elements such as novelty, controversy, and/or broad importance to the public (Maier et al., 2014). Not only do journalists get to decide which information is entered into the public agenda, they also have the opportunity to display the information in a particular manner. This level of power associated with journalism is known as the "gatekeeping theory (Maier et al., 2014).
The "gatekeeping theory contains two separate components. The first component of this theory is known as agenda setting. This idea states that the general public is going to find particular issues are more important if they are presented often and in a larger light (Maier etal., 2014). Based on this component, scientific information is likely to be overlooked as unimportant, which limits its ability to strike excitement within a given audience. This is mainly due to the fact that science news in the United States only comprises about 2% of mainstream media in the form of newspapers and newscasts (Maier etal., 2014).

The second component of the "gatekeeping theory is the idea of framing. With this idea, the journalist is open to present the information in a manner that suits their personal beliefs or interests (Maier et al., 2014). Unfortunately this provides an opportunity for the journalist to create either a positive or negative story about particular research. In addition, since a large portion of primary scientific literature is often difficult to understand, there is a lot of room for error in its final interpretation. This is where public information officers (PIOs) can serve as a crucial link between researchers and the media.
PIOs are often associated with universities and can effectively serve as scientific translators. On one end, they understand science and can present information to journalists in a manner that is understandable and accurate. Concurrently, they also understand what research would be relevant in a news setting and they can advise researchers on the best ways of presenting their information to the media (Ben-Ari, 1998). PIOs may serve as a bridge between research and the media; however, it is inevitable that some research is either misinterpreted or presented in an inaccurate or negative manner.
From a scientists perspective, these inaccuracies are a main driver in their goals for scientific communication. In addition to informing the public about their research, scientists have been found to highly value defending their work, as well as other scientific work, from public scrutiny based on misleading media coverage (Dudo & Besley, 2016). Creating excitement among the public about science has been found to also be important, however not as much so as informing and defending. On the bottom of the agenda, researchers are less concerned about

building trust and tailoring messages to fit particular groups (Dudo & Besley, 2016). These final points contradict a main component in the cultural cognition theory, in which Kahan argues that messages require tailoring in order to reach the widest possible audience.
One component of the cultural cognition theory states that the presentation of scientific information is more impactful on establishing an individuals opinions than the actual information itself. Information is more likely to be believed if someone who holds similar values with their audience shares it. This is a trait known as pluralistic advocacy (Kahan et al., 2011). Since a researcher is not likely to alter their values in an effort to tailor a message to their audience, it is imperative that a panel of individuals with diverse values shares the information. In addition to pluralistic advocacy, the idea of identity affirmation is also vital to the acceptance of information. This is where presentations must be tailored to fit their audience. Identity affirmation states that information is more likely to be received open-mindedly if it is presented in a manner that affirms, rather than dismisses, an individuals values (Kahan etal., 2011).
Unfortunately, since only 2% of mass media consists of science news, more often than not individuals are going to actively seek out their own information. This method of selection and processing involves an idea known as selective exposure, where individuals will tend to only seek out scientific evidence that supports their attitudes and beliefs (Maier et al., 2014). It has been found that there are four distinct motivations for seeking information: 1) guidance, 2) performance, 3) surveillance, and 4) reinforcement. Guidance and performance are "accuracy

motivations, which are involved in discovering what is occurring and how it can be achieved. Surveillance and reinforcement are considered "defense motivations that identify risks and affirm prior beliefs (Maier et al., 2014).
Regardless of the motivation for seeking out information, a certain level of scientific literacy is required in order to develop the most well rounded opinions. This requires a basic knowledge of scientific processes, most importantly being that there are no absolute proofs associated with scientific evidence (Maier etal., 2014). Scientific information is often presented in a bi-partisan manner that reflects the style of our mass media, which forces people to take a side. Not only does this paint an inaccurate picture of science, it inevitably creates a narrative that will agree with one groups values while simultaneously threatening anothers.
According to Demartini, our attention is drawn to areas that support our personal values. In the instance of scientific information, attention is naturally going to be drawn toward types of information that aligns with a set of personal values. With the interpretation of this information, however, cultural values are going to have more of an influence in what is regarded as true. Not only will this be restricted to what is listened to, it also is going to heavily influence where the information is found (Kahan etal., 2011).
The Vaccine War: A Case Study
Of the scientific issues in todays society, not many get more heated than the debate of mandated vaccines. Vaccines have been used for hundreds of years in one way or another and they are considered to be one of the most triumphant discoveries to modern healthcare. Despite the many years of study and benefits that

they confer to mankind, groups of individuals informally known as Anti-Vaxxers insist that they are harmful to individuals in several ways. Science has thoroughly disputed their claims many times over; however, the anti-vaccine stigma is still alive and well in todays society.
Modern vaccines are a product of early vaccination techniques against the deadly and severely contagious smallpox vaccine. Early vaccination, albeit crude, was moderately successful at limiting outbreaks of smallpox. The methods were derived in China during the mid 17th century when dried pustules of infected patients were transferred to healthy individuals (Lemons, 2016). This process, known as variolation, was not 100% effective, as a portion of the individuals receiving the treatment would develop the full-blown disease.
It wasnt until the late 18th century that modern day vaccines were originally developed. British physician Edward Jenner is credited with developing the first true smallpox vaccine after observing that milkmaids developed the disease far less than the majority of the population (King, 2016). This was due to their interaction with the cowpox virus. The two separate diseases are similar enough that the human immune system can develop immunity against smallpox by being vaccinated with less severe cowpox. Vaccinations continued to develop well into the following century when French chemist and microbiologist Louis Pasteur successfully developed vaccines for both anthrax and rabies (Ullmann, 2016).
Today, vaccines can be created in a variety of ways. Traditional vaccines are created using whole organisms that were either living or dead. Live organism vaccines are developed using pathogens whose virulence (i.e. infective capabilities)

has been attenuated. Other types of vaccines have since been created that utilize inactive toxins or a portion of the pathogenic organism, known as an antigen. Whether the vaccine contains whole organisms, inactive toxins, or specific antigens, the main goal of vaccination is to introduce the immune system to a disease in a safe manner in order to develop a memory response. If successful memory has been developed, any subsequent exposure to the pathogen can be dealt with quickly and effectively, thereby limiting its spread in a population (Wilson, Salyers, Whitt, & Winkler, 2011).
In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) establishes the vaccination schedule that is recommended for young children. Today, this list includes a total of 10 diseases that are vaccinated for during the first six years of a persons life. In order to establish full immunity against these diseases, up to 37 separate shots may be required (Lemons, 2016). Due to stringent awareness initiatives and a thorough public health infrastructure, many debilitating and deadly diseases such as polio and smallpox have been essentially eradicated from the United States. Although the federal government does not mandate the vaccination schedule, state and local legislature does hold this power (Lemons, 2016). Many states require that children be fully vaccinated in order to attend public school.
An exception to this mandate is possible via two types of exemption: religious belief and personal belief (philosophical). Currently, all but three states (California, West Virginia, and Mississippi) accept exemption claims that allow children to attend public school without proper vaccination (Lemons, 2016). This is

problematic because the full effectiveness of vaccination is dependent upon the idea of herd immunity.
Some individuals in the population, mainly the very young, elderly, and immunocompromised, cannot receive vaccines because their immune system is not strong enough to support them. Herd immunity is the protective benefit that these individuals receive from vaccines without actually receiving them. If the majority of the population is protected against an illness, they are able to confer passive protection to the individuals who cannot be immunized. Children that are allowed to go un-vaccinated reduce this passive protection by increasing the probability of an infectious outbreak. An instance of this was observed in 2014 when 141 cases of measles were reported across the country after originating from a single infected person visiting Disneyland. This debilitating disease was considered eliminated back in 2000 (Lemons, 2016).
Everyone, regardless of their scientific literacy level, should be able to easily observe and understand the vast benefits of vaccines. Occurrences of diseases such as polio, smallpox, and measles are exceptionally rare in todays society. This begs the question as to why such sentiment against vaccines exists. The origin of the antivaccine movement can be traced back to the 1970s and 80s in the United Kingdom. Highly inaccurate and over-exaggerated reports of dangerous side effects associated with live cell pertussis vaccines began to surface. This caused a mass reduction in the amount of pertussis vaccinations that led to about 100,000 infections and 36 deaths in the United Kingdom alone (Wilson, Salyers, Whitt, & Winkler, 2011).

Since then, additional arguments have been created against vaccinations based on additional misleading information. One such argument was that the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) triple shot vaccine was causing the development of autism in young children (Palfreman, 2010). This skepticism was mainly fueled by a report published in The Lancet in 1998 by British gastroenterologist Andrew Wakefield. Wakefields report provided substantial data claiming to support the relationship between rising autism rates and administration of the MMR vaccine. However, it was discovered in 2004 that Wakefield maintained considerable financial conflicts of interest during that time.
Based on these conflicts and fraudulent research that was found unrepeatable by other researchers, The Lancet retracted the article in 2010 and Wakefield lost his medical license (Lemons, 2016). No other studies have shown that the MMR vaccine is related to autism. In fact, multiple large scale epidemiological studies have been conducted by the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Finland, United Kingdom, and the United States, all showing no correlation between the MMR vaccine and autism (Palfreman, 2010).
A similar argument claimed by the anti-vaccine community is that the vaccine preservative, thimerosal, is the causative agent of autism in young children. The main concern with this preservative is that it is a mercuiy-based substance used to prevent microbial contamination of vials containing multiple doses of a vaccine. While methylmercury is one type of mercury that is known to cause significant neurological damage, thimerosal contains ethylmercuiy. This type of

mercury is easily broken down by the body and cleared before it can reach toxic levels (CDC, 2013).
As a precautionary measure, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended in 1999 that thimerosal be removed from all childhood vaccines. This was completed in 2001 and since then, the only vaccines that still contain the preservative are multi-dose influenza vaccines (CDC, 2013). Despite this seemingly defensive maneuver by the U.S. Public Health Services, the CDC routinely shares dozens of updated, peer-reviewed reports on vaccine safety each year. This includes numerous reports that thimerosal is a safe and effective preservative for use in vaccines (CDC, 2015). Similar epidemiological studies like those completed for the MMR vaccine have also been conducted to study links between thimerosal and autism. The United States, Canada, Denmark and the United Kingdom have all issued reports concluding there is no relationship between the two (Palfreman, 2010).
A final example of an argument conducted by the anti-vaccine movement is that children receive too many vaccines during the first few years of life. The idea is that the body cannot handle all of the stimuli produced by the numerous vaccines that are administered and as a result, autism is developed. However, humans are naturally subjected to millions of novel antigens everyday. The amount of exposure caused by vaccinations is miniscule compared to this natural phenomenon. A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics concluded that the increased exposure caused by multiple vaccinations was not associated with an increased risk of autism (DeStefano, Price, & Weintraub, 2013).

Despite the overwhelmingly large amount of scientific evidence supporting vaccines and dismissing claims that vaccinations cause autism, the anti-vaccine movement remains steadfast in their arguments. The link between vaccines and autism was created by parents due to their child having developed autism during the same period of time in which they received their vaccinations. Unfortunately, the childhood vaccine schedule occurs simultaneously with the period of time when autism characteristics typically manifest (Palfreman, 2010). Parents who do not trust the science behind vaccines drew this correlation between autism and vaccines. Instead of trusting the scientific data, they choose to trust high-profile spokespeople such as actress Jenny McCarthy, actor Jim Carey, and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
In addition to arguing about the physical dangers of vaccines, anti-vaccine proponents also argue against vaccine mandates requiring childhood vaccinations. A major player in this argument is Barbra Loe Fisher, a mother whose child developed learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder shortly after receiving the diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine in the 1980s. Shortly after, her and a group of concerned parents created the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which "advocates for vaccine safety and informed consent (Lemons, 2016). Considering the science and regulation by U.S. Public Health Services regarding the safety of vaccines, the majority of anti-vaccine claims appear to be an attempt to gain leverage toward government reform of vaccine mandates.
The majority of anti-vaccine supporters appear to be parents of young children. Given the nature of the relationship between parents and their children,

mothers and fathers are going to place high personal value on maintaining the wellbeing of their family. These personal values would cause a parents attention to be drawn toward information that regards the safety of their family, regardless of whether the information is pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. Parents who support the anti-vaccine movement may believe that autism and learning disabilities are a more pertinent threat to their child than diseases such as the measles, which seldom appear today in the United States.
In addition to personal values, cultural values also have a major impact in determining where individuals look for information. Anti-vaccine proponents who strongly support individualistic aspects of society would prefer changes to government vaccine mandates. These people prefer that an individuals wellbeing be secured based on decisions that are made "without interference or assistance from the collective (Kahan, Braman, Cohen, Gastil, & Slovic, 2010). It is also interesting to note that the majority of anti-vaccine supporters reside in similar areas such as in Boulder, Colorado. As previously mentioned, like-minded individuals will often associate with one another. In an effort to support their values and maintain their social needs, these individuals strongly oppose childhood vaccines and the mandates that require them.
Vaccines are considered one of the most prized medical advancements in the history of mankind. Despite strong scientific evidence supporting their efficacy and safety, groups of individuals maintain strong opinions against their use as childhood preventative measures against disease. These opinions are mainly driven by both personal and cultural values. Confirmation bias drives anti-vaccine proponents to

seek out information that will ultimately maintain the health of their children. Since cases of vaccine preventable diseases are relatively unheard of in the United States, these parents are more likely to believe claims that vaccines are causing disabilities such as autism. Additionally, state and local mandates requiring vaccinations in children directly opposes cultural values of societal independence. In the instance of vaccines, both personal and cultural values easily become threatened regardless of well-documented science.
Closing Statements
There are many theories as to how and why a person develops their own set of values. A portion of this development is aided by an individuals morals, which guides them in determining which actions are appropriate and socially acceptable.
In general, these morals may be relatively similar for many people depending on the society in which they were raised. The main differences in moral development have been observed between males and females. Males will develop morals based strongly on justice and societal rules, whereas females develop morals that parallel social contracts and acts of selflessness. Beyond these distinctions, however, a persons values become highly individualized.
Personal values stem from cherished areas of life that cannot be lived without. These values determine what drives a persons attention, retention and intension. Simultaneously, an individual holds a separate set of cultural values.
These values are based on a persons opinion on social structure (hierarchical vs. egalitarian) and social responsibility (individualistic vs. communitarian). A combination of these values determines the information that an individual actively

seeks out and accepts. While personal values drive what types of information are sought after, cultural values determine where the information is found (confirmation bias) and whether or not it will be regarded at true or false (inductive reasoning).
These sets of values factor into an individuals opinions on well supported scientific information. Science is naturally debatable due to its multifaceted methods for deriving data. In fact, previously studied scientific information can easily become disregarded based on future studies that oppose the previously collected data. Some areas of study; however, have been thoroughly developed and supported so that that the scientific community unanimously regards them as truth. One such area is with regards to the efficacy and safety of vaccine and childhood vaccinations.
Even though there are large amounts of data supporting the safe use of vaccines in young children, there remains a portion of the population that believes this information to be false. The majority of vaccine opponents are parents of young children that naturally hold personal values to maintain their wellbeing. Due to their values, these individuals believe that vaccines are unsafe due to widespread claims that they cause autism despite large amounts of data suggesting otherwise. An additional component of their argument is opposition toward governmental mandates requiring childhood vaccines for attendance of public schools. These mandates serve as a direct risk to these individuals cultural values of individualism. The case study of vaccines is a prime example of how an individuals personal and cultural values can influence strong opinions against well-supported science.

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Full Text


Cultural Cognition and its Effects on the Interpretation of Scientific Information By Kyle Nolan An undergraduate thesis submitted in partial completion of the M etropolitan State University of D enver Honors Program May 2016 Carol Jensen Dr. Sheryl Zajdonicz Dr. Megan Hughes Zarzo Primary Advisor Second Reader Honors Program Director


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