Friday, August 30, 2019

Loss of control in aging cells.

Wow...experiments like those of Pereda et al. make me feel rather fatalistic and resigned to the aging process, notwithstanding all the numerous pie in the sky biotech startups that are trying to find magic bullets that will reverse human aging. They note that deterioration in learning and memory with aging is not accompanied by obvious increases in nerve cell death, and so looked for more subtle changes that might be a play. They created transgenic mice that expressed a calcium sensor specifically in presynaptic terminals of the CA1 region of the hippocampus, allowing them to measure how calcium signaling altered with age. Older animals showed increased calcium influx into the neurons and persistently increased concentration of calcium in resting neurons, most likely caused by by an age‐dependent change in the properties or numbers of presynaptic calcium channels. Higher calcium altered neuronal transmission with parallel loss of cognitive function in the animals. Interestingly, reducing extracellular calcium made old synapses behave more like younger ones, and raising extracellular calcium made young synapses act like old ones.  Here is their technical abstract:
The loss of cognitive function accompanying healthy aging is not associated with extensive or characteristic patterns of cell death, suggesting it is caused by more subtle changes in synaptic properties. In the hippocampal CA1 region, long‐term potentiation requires stronger stimulation for induction in aged rats and mice and long‐term depression becomes more prevalent. An age‐dependent impairment of postsynaptic calcium homeostasis may underpin these effects. We have examined changes in presynaptic calcium signalling in aged mice using a transgenic mouse line (SyG37) that expresses a genetically encoded calcium sensor in presynaptic terminals. SyG37 mice showed an age‐dependent decline in cognitive abilities in behavioural tasks that require hippocampal processing including the Barnes maze, T‐maze and object location but not recognition tests. The incidence of LTP was significantly impaired in animals over 18 months of age. These effects of aging were accompanied by a persistent increase in resting presynaptic calcium, an increase in the presynaptic calcium signal following Schaffer collateral fibre stimulation, an increase in postsynaptic fEPSP slope and a reduction in paired‐pulse facilitation. These effects were not caused by synapse proliferation and were of presynaptic origin since they were evident in single presynaptic boutons. Aged synapses behaved like younger ones when the extracellular calcium concentration was reduced. Raising extracellular calcium had little effect on aged synapses but altered the properties of young synapses into those of their aged counterparts. These effects can be readily explained by an age‐dependent change in the properties or numbers of presynaptic calcium channels.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Interindividual variability - rather than universality - in facial-emotion perception.

Brooks et al. do experiments suggesting that the representational structure of emotion expressions in visual face-processing regions may be shaped by idiosyncratic conceptual understanding of emotion categories:

Classic theories of emotion hold that emotion categories (e.g., Anger and Sadness) each have corresponding facial expressions that can be universally recognized. Alternative approaches emphasize that a perceiver’s unique conceptual knowledge (e.g., memories, associations, and expectations) about emotions can substantially interact with processing of facial cues, leading to interindividual variability—rather than universality—in facial-emotion perception. We find that each individual’s conceptual structure significantly predicts the brain’s representational structure, over and above the influence of facial features. Conceptual structure also predicts multiple behavioral patterns of emotion perception, including cross-cultural differences in patterns of emotion categorizations. These findings suggest that emotion perception, and the brain’s representations of face categories, can be flexibly influenced by conceptual understanding of emotions.
Humans reliably categorize configurations of facial actions into specific emotion categories, leading some to argue that this process is invariant between individuals and cultures. However, growing behavioral evidence suggests that factors such as emotion-concept knowledge may shape the way emotions are visually perceived, leading to variability—rather than universality—in facial-emotion perception. Understanding variability in emotion perception is only emerging, and the neural basis of any impact from the structure of emotion-concept knowledge remains unknown. In a neuroimaging study, we used a representational similarity analysis (RSA) approach to measure the correspondence between the conceptual, perceptual, and neural representational structures of the six emotion categories Anger, Disgust, Fear, Happiness, Sadness, and Surprise. We found that subjects exhibited individual differences in their conceptual structure of emotions, which predicted their own unique perceptual structure. When viewing faces, the representational structure of multivoxel patterns in the right fusiform gyrus was significantly predicted by a subject’s unique conceptual structure, even when controlling for potential physical similarity in the faces themselves. Finally, cross-cultural differences in emotion perception were also observed, which could be explained by individual differences in conceptual structure. Our results suggest that the representational structure of emotion expressions in visual face-processing regions may be shaped by idiosyncratic conceptual understanding of emotion categories.

Monday, August 26, 2019

From "Love Your Enemies" - Arthur Brooks on Haidt's Moral Foundations Theory

I have read through Arthur Brooks' new book, "Love your Enemies," which addresses the many facets of our current political polarization, with the goal of suggesting some ways to ameliorate our current impasse. While I'm tempted to pass on an abstracted version of the main points of each of the book chapters, as I have done for several other books that have influenced me, I'm going to restrict myself to passing on some clips from Chapter 4 "How Can I Love my Enemies if They are Immoral," in which he does a nice summary of the ideas and work of Jonathan Haidt. At the end of the clips I attach a graphic from one of Haidt's lectures that summarizes his findings.
...“moral foundations theory,”... specifically addresses how conservatives and liberals differ in their moral views. Haidt was finding that certain ideas of morality are innate and that “the worst idea in all of psychology is the idea that the mind is a blank slate at birth.”* His research showed that we are in fact born with particular moral foundations that make it easy for us to learn certain ideas of right and wrong, and hard to learn others. Using survey data for hundreds of thousands of individuals, Haidt was finding that there are in fact five innate moral values that exist among humans of all races and cultures, which he calls the “five foundations of morality.” They are: (1) fairness, (2) care for others, (3) respect for authority, (4) loyalty to one’s group, and (5) purity or sanctity. (Later, he added liberty to the list.) Haidt’s research has shown that of these five moral foundations, the first two—fairness and care—are nearly universal. Except for sociopaths, almost everyone—conservative or liberal, young or old, religious or nonreligious—believes in fairness and compassion to others.
Conservatives look at all this and often conclude that liberals are less moral than they are, but the science shows this is not true. Liberals are not less moral; they simply have fewer moral foundations. According to Haidt’s research, “Liberals have a kind of a two-channel, or two-foundation morality” while “conservatives have more of a . . . five-channel morality.” All of us, regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum, care about social morality, treating others with fairness and compassion. By contrast, personal moral values, such as sexual purity, respect for authority, and tribal loyalty—to which conservative politicians often give greater emphasis—resonate deeply with only a part of the population. When it comes to loyalty, authority, and purity, conservatives are from Mars, and liberals are from Venus. Or vice versa, I’m not sure. I just know it’s different planets.
Even in an age that celebrates diversity, most people assiduously avoid those who hold different moral values. Indeed, people avoid those with different values more than they do people of different racial backgrounds. In one study with undergraduate students, Haidt and his colleagues found that “in fraternity admissions, fraternity brothers were happy to admit people who were demographically different from themselves, although they avoided candidates who had strong moral or political values that differed either from the group as a whole, or from themselves as individuals.” He also found that in choosing a study partner, most undergraduates did not care about racial differences, “but political/moral differences generally made a candidate less attractive.” Haidt’s work is consistent with more recent research that shows the starkest dividing line in America today is not race, religion, or economic status, but rather party affiliation. In fact, scholars at Stanford and Princeton have found that political partisans in America now take a more discriminatory view of those in the opposing party than they do of people of other races.
You may be genetically predisposed to a conservative, five-channel moral foundation, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a conservative if your intellect tells you otherwise. Think deeply. Listen to the other side. Reflect on what others are saying. Then ask yourself not just how you feel, but what you think is right. We’re not slaves. We’re not shackled to a pipe in the basement of our own built-in genetic morality. In his book The Birth of the Mind, the eminent brain scientist Gary Marcus writes, “‘Built-in’ does not mean unmalleable; it means organized in advance of experience.” When it comes to our moral outlook, Marcus says, “Nature provides a first draft, which experience then revises.” It is up to each of us to create the next drafts of our moral minds. We should constantly be evaluating whether our particular expression of our moral values is the right one, much less the only legitimate expression of those values. Doing so requires the humility to recognize that none of us has a monopoly on truth. The left favors redistribution; the right, meritocracy. But if we had a completely redistributionist society we’d be the Soviet Union; if we had a complete meritocracy, millions would be starving. There is a sweet spot between the two and we should all be searching together to find it.

Friday, August 23, 2019

What we see is biased by ongoing neural activity.

Rassi et al. (open source) show that ongoing neural activity in our brain, as in the fusiform face area, can influence what we perceive in an ambiguous sensory stimulus such as the Rubin face/vase illusion.

Ongoing neural activity influences stimulus detection—that is, whether or not an object is seen. Here, we uncover how it could influence the content of what is seen. In ambiguous situations, for instance, ongoing neural fluctuations might bias perception toward one or the other interpretation. Indeed, we show increased information flow from category-selective brain regions (here, the fusiform face area [FFA]) to the primary visual cortex before participants subsequently report seeing faces rather than a vase in the Rubin face/vase illusion. Our results identify a neural connectivity pathway that biases future perception and helps determine mental content.
Ongoing fluctuations in neural excitability and in networkwide activity patterns before stimulus onset have been proposed to underlie variability in near-threshold stimulus detection paradigms—that is, whether or not an object is perceived. Here, we investigated the impact of prestimulus neural fluctuations on the content of perception—that is, whether one or another object is perceived. We recorded neural activity with magnetoencephalography (MEG) before and while participants briefly viewed an ambiguous image, the Rubin face/vase illusion, and required them to report their perceived interpretation in each trial. Using multivariate pattern analysis, we showed robust decoding of the perceptual report during the poststimulus period. Applying source localization to the classifier weights suggested early recruitment of primary visual cortex (V1) and ∼160-ms recruitment of the category-sensitive fusiform face area (FFA). These poststimulus effects were accompanied by stronger oscillatory power in the gamma frequency band for face vs. vase reports. In prestimulus intervals, we found no differences in oscillatory power between face vs. vase reports in V1 or in FFA, indicating similar levels of neural excitability. Despite this, we found stronger connectivity between V1 and FFA before face reports for low-frequency oscillations. Specifically, the strength of prestimulus feedback connectivity (i.e., Granger causality) from FFA to V1 predicted not only the category of the upcoming percept but also the strength of poststimulus neural activity associated with the percept. Our work shows that prestimulus network states can help shape future processing in category-sensitive brain regions and in this way bias the content of visual experiences.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

More diversity in Flow-land.

I will pass on part of an email from Mr. Todd Denen occasioned by my 8/16/19 post, in which he assures me, that unlike the Flow Genome Project and Flow Collective Research Project discussed in that post, his Flow Research University is legit:
“ My name is Todd Denen and I just came across your post on the FGP guys. I just wanted to say not all Flow training programs are bullshit.....
I'm the founder of the Advanced Flow University which teaches the Flow state from the perspective of the Yogi Flow Experts.
In my book, PEAK PERFORMANCE SECRETS, I reveal the Advanced Flow Techniques which have been used by the Yogi Flow Experts for over 5,000 years. This has allowed them to achieve the highest level of Consciousness, the 7th Level of Flow.
If you are interested, I'm doing a promotion on it right now and you can get it for free on Amazon….."
Here is a screen shot showing only three of the numerous free books by Mr. Denen available from Amazon's Kindle offerings.

I couldn't resist downloading and having a look at "Peak Performance Secrets" and "FLOW STATE SEX TEST" (Advanced Flow University Book 3).

Unbelievable stuff.   Kudos to Amazon for its carefully vetted high quality Kindle offerings!

Monday, August 19, 2019

What we see is influenced by what we can do about it

Djebbara et al. do experiments that resolve an ancient debate on the relationship between cognition, movement, and environment, showing that potential actions afforded by an architectural environment influence perception. We perceive the world not as an observer-independent reality but in the mold of potential actions, shaped by the current needs and other personal attributes of the actor–perceiver. I pass on their significance and abstract statements, and then a clip from a description of the work by Gepshtein and Snider.

Using electroencephalography and virtual reality, our research provides a unique perspective on the centuries-old open-ended debate in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy on the relationship among cognition, movement, and environment. Our results indicate that cortical potentials vary as a function of bodily affordances reflected by the physical environment. First, the results imply that cognition is inherently related to the potential movement of the body; thus, we posit that action is interrelated with perception, actively influencing the perceivable environment. Second, these results indicate that moving in space is to continuously construct a prediction of a world of affordances, suggesting that architects take up the continuity of spaces, given that the unfolding of bodily movement alters perception and experience.
Anticipating meaningful actions in the environment is an essential function of the brain. Such predictive mechanisms originate from the motor system and allow for inferring actions from environmental affordances, and the potential to act within a specific environment. Using architecture, we provide a unique perspective on the ongoing debate in cognitive neuroscience and philosophy on whether cognition depends on movement or is decoupled from our physical structure. To investigate cognitive processes associated with architectural affordances, we used a mobile brain/body imaging approach recording brain activity synchronized to head-mounted displays. Participants perceived and acted on virtual transitions ranging from nonpassable to easily passable. We found that early sensory brain activity, on revealing the environment and before actual movement, differed as a function of affordances. In addition, movement through transitions was preceded by a motor-related negative component that also depended on affordances. Our results suggest that potential actions afforded by an environment influence perception.
And, the clip from the review by Gepshtein and Snider:
Djebbara et al. had human participants walking freely while immersed in a virtual environment. A wearable “brain/body imaging setup” included a 64-channel electroencephalographic (EEG) cap that allowed researchers to record the participants’ electrical activity of the brain. The experiment consisted of a series of trials in which participants confronted simulated doors of different widths: Narrow (0.2 m wide), medium (1 m), and wide (1.5 m). At the onset of every trial, the participant was shown 1 of the 3 doors for several seconds. Then the wall framing the door changed its color: To green, prompting the person to pass through the door (the Go condition), or to red, indicating that the person should not approach the door (NoGo). A key result from the analysis of the participants’ brain activity came from the temporal window that just followed the Go/NoGo signal. On average, the part of the brain responsible for processing visual information functioned differently in the Go and NoGo conditions. In the Go condition, brain activity depended significantly on whether the door was passable or not, but in the NoGo condition, no such difference was found.
The authors explain this result by evoking the familiar concept of affordance, introduced by the influential American psychologist James J. Gibson in 1966. Gibson coined the term “affordance” to designate action opportunities offered by objects, trying to find a substitute to the term “value” which he worried would carry “an old burden of philosophical meaning”

Friday, August 16, 2019

A Schism in Flow-land? Flow Genome Project vs. Flow Research Collective

In Nov. 2017 I did a scathing review of  the "Stealing Fire" book by Jamie Wheal and Steven Kotler - in support of expensive workshops offered by their "Flow Genome Project" - purporting to show the latest science relevant to the flow states of enhanced human performance described in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s original writings on this subject. I judged the book a mess, with very little of substance to offer. A follow up post in Sept. 2018 passed on an exchange between one dissatisfied customer and a representative of the flow genome workshops.

Given this background, I can't resist passing on to MindBlog readers an email I just received indicating that there has been trouble in Flow-land... Mr. Kotler and Mr. Wheal have apparently split up and are now present competing websites, both very slick, with Mr. Kotler's ( radiating a bit more gravitas than Mr. Wheal's ( Here is the email:
Hey there, 
I work with Steven Kotler who is featured in this article on your site. I have a critical request to change the text and link from Flow Genome Project to Flow Research Collective as this is Steven's new company. 
Currently there is traffic that is being directed from your site to the old company that Steven resigned from and so it's important that we get this updated so that the piece is accurate and up to date. 
We are not requesting that the mention of Flow Genome Project must be withdrawn in relation to Jamie, just that we need it to be clear that Steven is with the Flow Research Collective and that we're directing toward's [sic] that site. 
Please confirm that this is possible. Thanks, 
Gabby-- Gabby Nuñez Chief Of Customer Service and Satisfaction 
Continuing in the tradition of the "Stealing Fire" book the link in the email "this article on your site" is not to either of the posts I mention above (Nov. 2017, Sept. 2018), but to all the posts done in Nov. and Dec.  of 2017.

I'm not taking the time to look further into this, but would suggest that any potential clients of these expensive purportedly transformational programs do due diligence. CAVEAT EMPTOR!

How weight training changes the brain.

Gretchen Reynolds points to work by Kelty et al. showing that weight training in rats can ameliorate mild cognitive impairment in rats induced by a injecting a lipopolysaccharide known to induce inflammation in the brain, creating a rodent form of mild cognitive impairment or early dementia. The weight training also induces chemical factors that support new nerve cell growth. How do you get rats to train with weights? Get them to climb a ladder for a Froot Loop reward with weights gently taped to their rear ends! Do three workouts a week, increasing the load as in regular resistance training. Similar experiments (inducing mild cognitive impairment) obviously can't be done in humans, but it would be useful to look more at whether and how much weight training in humans might stimulate the appearance of nerve growth factors that support new nerve cell growth. Numerous studies have shown that aerobic exercise has this effect.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Five myths about consciousness

In a perspective piece for the Washington Post Christof Koch (chief scientist and president of the Allen Institute of Brain Science) does a brief and concise debunking of five common fables about consciousness. I suggest you give it a read. The myths are:
Humans have a unique brain.
Science will never understand consciousness.
Dreams contain hidden clues about our secret desires.
We are susceptible to subliminal messages.
Near-death 'visions' are evidence of life after death.

Monday, August 12, 2019

It’s not just how the game is played, it’s whether you win or lose

An open source article from Molina et al.:
Growing disparities of income and wealth have prompted extensive survey research to measure the effects on public beliefs about the causes and fairness of economic inequality. However, observational data confound responses to unequal outcomes with highly correlated inequality of opportunity. This study uses a novel experiment to disentangle the effects of unequal outcomes and unequal opportunities on cognitive, normative, and affective responses. Participants were randomly assigned to positions with unequal opportunities for success. Results showed that both winners and losers were less likely to view the outcomes as fair or attributable to skill as the level of redistribution increased, but this effect of redistribution was stronger for winners. Moreover, winners were generally more likely to believe that the game was fair, even when the playing field was most heavily tilted in their favor. In short, it’s not just how the game is played, it’s also whether you win or lose.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Ingroup vigilance in collectivistic cultures

Fascinating work from Liu et al., who provide a more nuanced view of how people in more collectivist cultures are more suspicious of possible unethical intentions in others than people in more individualistic cultures.

Decades of research have described East Asian cultures as collectivistic, often characterized by ingroup relationships that are harmonious and cooperative. We find evidence that people in collectivistic cultures can also be more vigilant, mindful of ingroup members’ bad intentions. Participants imagined what coworkers and classmates would do in competition. Compared with individualistic Americans, people in China expected more unethical competition. Is this a “China phenomenon” or a phenomenon of collectivistic culture? We next compared regional cultures within China to rule out between-country alternative explanations. We found that people from China’s collectivistic rice-farming regions were more vigilant than people from the individualistic wheat-farming regions. This research suggests a more balanced view of collectivism, revealing tensions that can co-occur with harmony.
Collectivistic cultures have been characterized as having harmonious, cooperative ingroup relationships. However, we find evidence that people in collectivistic cultures are more vigilant toward ingroup members, mindful of their possible unethical intentions. Study 1 found that Chinese participants were more vigilant than Americans in within-group competitions, anticipating more unethical behaviors from their peers. Study 2 replicated this finding by comparing areas within China, finding that people from China’s collectivistic rice-farming regions exhibit greater ingroup vigilance than people from the less collectivistic wheat-farming regions. The rice/wheat difference was mediated by greater perceived within-group competition. Study 3 found that Chinese participants were more likely than Americans to interpret a peer’s friendly behavior as sabotage in disguise. We also manipulated within-group competition and found that it increased ingroup vigilance in both cultures. Finally, study 3 identified two boundary conditions where cultural differences in ingroup vigilance decrease: an unambiguously competitive win–lose situation where Americans also exhibit vigilance, and an unambiguously cooperative win–win situation where Chinese participants relax their vigilance. This research contributes to a more balanced view of collectivism, revealing its interpersonal tensions in the forms of within-group competition and ingroup vigilance.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Feeling pleasure from music - brain correlates of why people differ

From Martínez-Molina et al.:

Music is one of the most important sources of pleasure for many people, but at the same time there are important individual differences in the sensitivity to musical reward. Previous studies have revealed the critical involvement of the functional connectivity between perceptual and subcortical brain areas in the enjoyment of music. However, it is unknown whether individual differences in music sensitivity might arise from variability in the structural connectivity among these areas. Here we show that structural connectivity between supratemporal and orbitofrontal cortices, and between orbitofrontal and nucleus accumbens, predict individual differences in sensibility to music reward. These results provide evidence for the critical involvement of the interaction between the subcortical reward system and higher-order cortical areas in music-induced pleasure.
People show considerable variability in the degree of pleasure they experience from music. These individual differences in music reward sensitivity are driven by variability in functional connectivity between the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a key structure of the reward system, and the right superior temporal gyrus (STG). However, it is unknown whether a neuroanatomical basis exists for this variability. We used diffusion tensor imaging and probabilistic tractography to study the relationship between music reward sensitivity and white matter microstructure connecting these two regions via the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) in 38 healthy human participants (24 females and 14 males). We found that right axial diffusivity (AD) in the STG–OFC connectivity inversely correlated with music reward sensitivity. Additionally, right mean diffusivity and left AD in the NAcc-OFC tract also showed an inverse correlation. Further, AD in this tract also correlated with previously acquired BOLD activity during music listening, but not for a control monetary reward task in the NAcc. Finally, we used mediation analysis to show that AD in the NAcc–OFC tract explains the influence of NAcc activation during a music task on music reward sensitivity. Overall, our results provide further support for the idea that the exchange of information among perceptual, integrative, and reward systems is important for musical pleasure, and that individual differences in the structure of the relevant anatomical connectivity influences the degree to which people are able to derive such pleasure.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Can an uprising of decency win the next presidential election?

I want to point to this massively cogent piece by David Brooks, and also pass on a video done by the democratic presidential candidate he mentions, Marianne Williamson. He credits her with being the only candidate who most effectively cuts to the real heart of what is at issue in the next presidential election: who we are as a people, our national character, and the moral atmosphere in which we raise our children.
It is no accident that the Democratic candidate with the best grasp of this election is the one running a spiritual crusade, not an economic redistribution effort. Many of her ideas are wackadoodle, but Marianne Williamson is right about this: “This is part of the dark underbelly of American society: the racism, the bigotry and the entire conversation that we’re having here tonight. If you think any of this wonkiness is going to deal with this dark psychic force of the collectivized hatred that this president is bringing up in this country, then I’m afraid that the Democrats are going to see some very dark days.”
And she is right about this: “We’ve never dealt with a figure like this in American history before. This man, our president, is not just a politician; he’s a phenomenon. And an insider political game will not be able to defeat it. … The only thing that will defeat him is if we have a phenomenon of equal force, and that phenomenon is a moral uprising of the American people.”
They are unready for it, but it falls on the Democrats to rebuild the moral infrastructure of our country. That does not mean standing up and saying, “Donald Trump is a racist!” 500 times a day. It means reminding Americans of the values we still share, and the damage done when people are not held accountable for trampling on them. The values are pretty basic and can be simply expressed:
Unity: We’re one people. Our leader represents all the people. He doesn’t go around attacking whole cities and regions.
Honesty: We can’t have deliberative democracy without respect for the truth. None of us want congenital liars in our homes or our workplaces.
Pluralism: Human difference makes life richer and more interesting. We treasure members of all races and faiths for what they bring to the mosaic.
Sympathy: We want to be around people with good hearts, who feel for those who are suffering, who are faithful friends, whose daily lives are marked by kindness.
Opportunity: We want all children to have an open field and a fair chance in the great race of life.
Trump has put himself on the wrong side of all these values. So Democrats, go ahead and promote your plans. But also lead an uprising of decency. There must be one Democrat who, in word and deed, can do that.
Here is the Williamson video:

Friday, August 02, 2019

What can we do when facts don't matter?

Some of Trump’s most ardent supporters are those whose lives are most diminished and compromised by his actions. They do not let facts cloud their beliefs. A similar situation is seen in the anti-science denial of the scientifically proven benefits of vaccinations or genetically modified foods. The Dunning Kruger effect is in force. Those who know the least think they are experts. As Carroll points out in his NYTimes opinion piece, only subtle persuasion can be used to nudge those who are immune to factual knowledge. Some clips:
In a paper published early this year in Nature Human Behavior, scientists asked 500 Americans what they thought about foods that contained genetically modified organisms.
The vast majority, more than 90 percent, opposed their use. This belief is in conflict with the consensus of scientists. Almost 90 percent of them believe G.M.O.s are safe — and can be of great benefit.
The second finding of the study was more eye-opening. Those who were most opposed to genetically modified foods believed they were the most knowledgeable about this issue, yet scored the lowest on actual tests of scientific knowledge.
Carroll points out that...
A great deal of science communication still relies on the “knowledge deficit model,” an idea that the lack of support for good policies, and good science, merely reflects a lack of scientific information.
The problem is that experts have been giving accurate information for years to little effect.
In 2016, a number of researchers argued in an essay that those in the sciences needed to realize that the public may not process information in the same way they do. Scientists need to be formally trained in communication skills, they said, and they also need to realize that the knowledge deficit model makes for easy policy, but not necessarily good results.
It seems important to engage the public more, and earn their trust through continued, more personal interaction, using many different platforms and technologies. Dropping knowledge from on high — which is still the modus operandi for most scientists — doesn’t work.