Overlapping Magisteria Motivated Cognition and the Places Where Science and Religion Mingle

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Jonathan Morgan


Scientific insights can help us better understand ourselves, others, and the world we share. These insights can also radically challenge our sense of who we are, our place in the universe, and the very nature of the universe. When science communicators venture into this metaphysical terrain they quickly encounter dearly held religious beliefs. Where these two meaning-making systems overlap can often become places of friction as communicators and audiences alike are asked to balance our need for accuracy with our needs for psychological security, all while humbly considering the limitations of scientific inference. This paper brings together research on motivated cognition and science communication in order to better understand these challenges and to offer a way to navigate this potentially fraught terrain.

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