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Academics ‘to blame’ for society’s dismissal of facts, says AAAS chief

The rise of alternative facts and the public’s growing disregard for evidence is partly due to poor communication by researchers, Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has said.

Academics have put more emphasis on the results of their research than on demonstrating the value of the scientific process, which has made it easier for the public to “dismiss everything in the knowledge”, Holt said in his keynote speech at the annual Almedalen democracy forum in Visby, Sweden, on 3 July.

Holt called on researchers to stop regarding themselves as the “custodians of knowledge” and to “get away from the old idea that your job is to simplify and clarify”. This way of thinking leads the public to think that the process of collecting and evaluating evidence is only for academics, and not for the wider public, he said.

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