The gap between scientific facts and the understanding of the general public is one that science communicators debate about a lot. Since many of the Token Skeptic episodes look at the issue of misunderstandings about vaccination, I’m always keen to look at what research is being done in that field.

In January of this year, the paper Vaccine Risk Perceptions and Ad Hoc Risk Communication: An Empirical Assessment was published on the Social Science Research Network site, authored by Dan Kahan. It’s a fascinating read. What particularly intrigued me was what help concerned citizens can be when it comes to communicating scientific facts well – and when it’s important to take a step back.

Dan Kahan is the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Law and Professor of Psychology at the Yale Law School. Kahan’s current research spans risk perception, science communication, and the application of decision science to law and policymaking.

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