I recently gave a presentation on how to talk science to normal people. After I finished there was the usual question and answer. One of the audience asked me a fairly simple question, which I sadly fumbled. "How do you explain scientific consensus to someone who doesn't agree?" I don't remember the rambling answer I gave at the time, but the question has been stuck with me ever since. I finally came up with what I think is a pretty decent answer and it involves cake.
The first thing a scientist needs to decide when explaining scientific consensus is whether it is truly "science" or "scientific consensus" that is being questioned. If a person doesn't believe in science because it conflicts with their faith...no amount of explanation is going to persuade that individual. Faith is the belief in something without evidence. Science is knowledge gained through studying evidence. They are diametrically opposed. Antonyms, if you will. No single conversation will cause someone to lose their faith. But if the question is genuinely, "how do you explain scientific consensus?" then that can be described thusly...
Time to talk cake.
What most scientists don't realize is the psychology of communication. If no one is listening to you, then you are not communicating effectively. So how do you get people to listen? It's easy. Here's how....
These are solely my thoughts and opinions and not those of my employer(s).