For more than two millennia philosophers and psychologists have discovered and rediscovered a prevailing psychological truth: Intuition and fiercely held beliefs often guide us more than the facts. Nonetheless, the scientific community seems to operate under the assumption that people think and behave rationally; provide the facts, most of us believe, and people will behave in accordance with them. When they don't we wring our hands.

Although the scientific enterprise is firmly established and widely acknowledged as the engine of progress, the public does not hold back when it comes to rejecting scientific facts. People avidly seek unproven treatments and continue to use them long after they have been disproven, creationism lives and thrives, a substantial and vocal minority believe that routine vaccinations are dangerous (and are attempting to outlaw them); and, despite its promise for easing world hunger and its low probability of risk, the public is clamoring, successfully...

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