On #Resistance fatigue and self-care

The last couple of days have been rough. I feel like the world is turning upside down, and do not know what to think or how to react. By what I see on my TL and Facebook, it seems like a general feeling that a lot of us are going through. Ok, I know that my sample is kind of biased, but you get the point ūüėČ

There is so much going on, and there’s so much information out there! Lately I’ve been doing a somewhat reverse pomodoro. Working for five minutes, and spending 25 minutes on Twitter/news. Of course at some point we are going to feel overwhelmed. Not to mention work that starts piling up…

We cannot forget that politics is a strategy game, and the current strategy is to throw everything at the same time, and wear us out. And that cannot happen, not if we want to keep resisting! Remember, the fight is far from over, and this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Self-care is an important part of the resistance. If you feel overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to take a break. Try to energize doing something that brings you pleasure and joy, and then come back. If you’re like me, that simply can’t look away, try to taper it down. Make a Twitter list with only a couple of accounts and follow that, instead of your normal feed. Or, focus in only one topic, and read only news about it.

I don’t know you, but it’s becoming somewhat pathological to want to follow everything and fight against everything. With focus, we can resist, better and stronger! It is more important than ever to keep fighting, but we cannot forget to take care of yourselves first.

sanity

And don’t forget: there are always cute puppies pictures!

Why screaming louder about Science might not be enough

Science is being seriously threatened. It is certainly amazing to see the scientific community joining efforts and resisting to it. A March for Science is currently being organized, and a newly formed group called 314 Action is encouraging scientists to run for office. Scientists are all fired up to communicate more their science to the general public. But just screaming louder may not bring optimal results. One must understand that science is political, no matter what field it is (@Hood_Biologist).

Studies show both Democrats and Republicans like the same policy better when they’re told it’s supported by their own party. This is called politically motivated reasoning, and leads people to seek out information that reinforces their ideas (confirmation bias), and counter-argue information that contradicts their ideas (disconfirmation bias). We talked about this topic on our last #DiversityJC, in which we discussed the article The Nature and Origins of Misperceptions.

“In the experiment, participants were randomly¬†assigned to receive a table of outcome data that was labeled as either showing how a skin cream affects a rash or how gun control affects crime. The success of the intervention (i.e., skin cream, gun control) was also randomly varied between respondents.

When the table was presented as data about whether a skin cream helped a rash or not, there were no major differences in how people of different ideological leanings interpreted the data. But when the data were instead presented as evidence about the effectiveness of gun control, people‚Äôs interpretation of the results became polarized by ideology.”

So it doesn’t really matter what the facts are actually showing, people‚Äôs interpretation will vary, depending¬†if the information reinforces or contradicts directional (party) preferences. In this excellent piece GETTING A SCIENTIFIC MESSAGE ACROSS MEANS TAKING HUMAN NATURE INTO ACCOUNT, @NeuWriteSD discusses how¬†in reality, just knowing facts doesn‚Äôt necessarily guarantee that one‚Äôs opinions and behaviors will be consistent with them. One must first consider human nature, and overcome cognitive biases.

In fact I believe that most of the people who are anti-vaccines, anti-global warming, anti-GMO are not really anti-science. Those opinions¬†seem to be less related to ideologies but¬†more related to express their emotional beliefs. In other words, they seem to¬†truly BELIEVE that those are actual threats to themselves and their loved ones. In her new book, Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild says that “while people might vote against their economic needs, they’re actually voting to serve their emotional needs.” (H/T)¬†this week’s episode of the Hidden Brain.

But how can we fight¬†it? A recent study showed that this politically motivated reasoning can be tamped down – with CURIOSITY! You can read The Atlantic’s article about it here or dig into the full paper.¬†In that paper, the authors present evidence that, as science curiosity increases, subjects tend not to polarize in their judgements¬†but rather¬†adjust their opinions¬†of them. The¬†authors demonstrate the utility of the new ‚Äúscience of science communication‚ÄĚ, suggesting that it is possible to construct a valid science curiosity
instrument to reach those people, and scientists need to be sufficiently concrete about its focus, avoids social appeal effects, and not rely exclusively on self-report measures.

One other approach that we can keep in mind is brought by the principle of behavioral economics, that states that when it comes to human beings, there is a conflict between¬†the passions and the impartial spectator. The most famous paper published back in 1979 describes that “the ways in which alternatives are framed‚ÄĒnot simply their relative value‚ÄĒheavily influence the decisions people make“. So taking those principles into account, we should aim not only to describe Science¬†but frame it in an optimal way for our audience to “buy it”.

Easy? Of course not. But we must use all efforts and strategies to fight for Science and make sure that our message is delivered – and understood – properly.