We will get much further in our goal of learning from and getting along with one another when all of us – along with our moral, spiritual, and political leaders and our scientists – take an honest look at how vulnerable we each are, even those dedicated to objective science-based fact, to dissonance.

“Understanding how dissonance works is critical for us as teachers – and learners – for two reasons: First, it explains why, faced with scientific information that disconfirms their important beliefs, most people will tell you to get lost and take your data with you. Scientists may despair of creationists who remain unpersuaded by 8,000 studies of evolution, but scientists too have been known to dismiss 8,000 studies opposing their own cherished position on a political or intellectual issue.

“Second, understanding dissonance helps us discuss findings in better, more persuasive ways – without making the other person feel stupid for believing something now shown to be false: “How could you possibly believe that!” or “Look, isn’t it interesting that your lifelong theory of child development is wrong?” We can try to present science not in a negative, debunking way but in a positive way – to show what is fun, exciting and creative even about disconfirming research. Scientists understand that there is nothing inherently dissonant about disconfirming results; they may not welcome such findings, but they see them (or should!) as important information that moves us a little further along the path of knowledge.”

read the article at americanscientist.org