Kathryn Stamoulis, PhD
On Earth Day, April 22, 2017, hundreds of thousands of people participated in the March for Science in Washington, DC, and over 600 satellite locations around the globe. The main goals of these rallies were to emphasize the societal good science upholds, support scientists, and call for nonpartisan evidence-based governmental policy that serves the public interest. Media coverage of the April 22nd March was mainly focused on the physical sciences; however, the American Psychological Association (March 9, 2017 release) served as an official partner of the March, calling it “a demonstration of the importance of science for improving people’s lives and benefiting society.”
While the ability to organize to bring attention to the cause was a positive result of the March, now that it is over supporters need to take action to make science accessible. In a time of fake news, click-bait headlines, and news in 140 characters or less, the world is experiencing unprecedented levels of misinformation. The result of this disarray is currently being studied (see column by June Wilson and article by Karen Mitchell in this issue, for example) but at a minimum it appears to be spreading vast confusion. As social scientists, psychologists can help by publicly countering misinformation and by making psychological research easier to understand for the lay person.
As a group, Division 46 is very well positioned to continue the March for Science beyond the physical march itself. Many Division 46 members already share their expertise with the public via online, print, and television. Some division members are even media fixtures. Media psychologists not only have the training to look at research critically, but are able to disseminate findings in a way that is digestible to the public, while maintaining the scientific integrity of studies being reviewed. Such capability can be immensely valuable in disseminating psychological information for a wide-reaching positive impact.
We need to continue to share psychological information, disseminate high-quality research, and confront misinformation with facts. For those who want to learn more about sharing their expertise, Division 46 has many valuable resources about being a psychologist in the media. Recently, in this regard, APA also recorded a training session called Beyond the March: Advocating for Psychological Science. From a small-stage to the national level, psychologists need to share what we know to improve people’s lives and to benefit society.