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Things we know to be true... or do we?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019 , 1pm
EDEN 130 Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Dr Rosanna Cousins, Associate Professor of Health Psychology, Department of Psychology

In 2016 the Oxford Dictionary included ‘post-truth’ as one of its words of the year. The word emerged from the political situation, in which leaders make little effort to ensure that their ‘facts’ stand up to scrutiny, alongside a public acceptance of inaccurate and undefended assertions that is outrageously high. Whilst we would all like to be considered truthful, in the cold light of
day, scientific truths are always provisional at some level. There is also a wealth of ‘evidence’ that has been promulgated that is at best confusing, and at worst dangerous.

This Foundation Hour, using examples, will put forward some food for thought on this situation. Drawing on the Festiger’s classic When Prophecy Fails, the session will try to explain the challenge of being presented with facts that oppose our world view, or our values, and consider what we can do to accommodate misperceptions using psychological theory: Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

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