Skip to content

Science and the public: Debate, denial, and skepticism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-553
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social and Political Psychology
Issue number2
Early online date18 Aug 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 11 Apr 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 18 Aug 2016
DatePublished (current) - 18 Aug 2016


When the scientific method yields discoveries that imperil people’s lifestyle or worldviews or impinge on corporate vested interests, the public and political response can be anything but favorable. Sometimes the response slides into overt denial of scientific facts, although this denial is often claimed to involve “skepticism”. We outline the distinction between true skepticism and denial with several case studies. We propose some guidelines to enable researchers to differentiate legitimate critical engagement from bad-faith harassment, and to enable members of the public to pursue their skeptical engagement and critique without such engagement being mistaken for harassment.

    Structured keywords

  • Memory

    Research areas

  • harassment of scientists, rejection of science, public involvement in science, transparency

Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via PsychOpen at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 440 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups