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Evaluating science arguments: Evidence, uncertainty, and argument strength

Corner, Adam J. and Hahn, Ulrike 2009. Evaluating science arguments: Evidence, uncertainty, and argument strength. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied 15 (3) , pp. 199-212. 10.1037/a0016533

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Public debates about socioscientific issues are increasingly prevalent, but the public response to messages about, for example, climate change, does not always seem to match the seriousness of the problem identified by scientists. Is there anything unique about appeals based on scientific evidence—do people evaluate science and nonscience arguments differently? In an attempt to apply a systematic framework to people’s evaluation of science arguments, the authors draw on the Bayesian approach to informal argumentation. The Bayesian approach permits questions about how people evaluate science arguments to be posed and comparisons to be made between the evaluation of science and nonscience arguments. In an experiment involving three separate argument evaluation tasks, the authors investigated whether people’s evaluations of science and nonscience arguments differed in any meaningful way. Although some differences were observed in the relative strength of science and nonscience arguments, the evaluation of science arguments was determined by the same factors as nonscience arguments. Our results suggest that science communicators wishing to construct a successful appeal can make use of the Bayesian framework to distinguish strong and weak arguments.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Publisher: American Psychological Association
ISSN: 1939-2192
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2017 03:21

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