Eli has been listening to young folks talk about science teaching and science listening. Although this will be a very short post, IEHO it is worthy of more than a few comments.
Allow Eli to start with a college student's observation that scientists have trouble communicating to the public because they are used to the give and take of talking with other scientists where everybunny is free to quibble, make errors and disagree but to be taken seriously one must remain within the well proven boundaries of common knowledge. Understanding grows through the interchange but if you fail the bullshit tests and remain obdurate, others simply roll their eyes and walk.
According to the student, and Eli agrees, this is confusing to the broad public for reasons that are partially explained below.
The second point, made by a younger student, is that running the K-12 standardized testing gauntlet does not prepare kids for any kind of intellectual give and take, nor do textbooks encourage same. Multiple choice questions have ABCD (maybe E) answers and the students never learn how to engage in the give and take of scientific discourse. Textbooks do not usually help much if at all. To be honest, most university, let alone K-12 science teachers themselves are uncomfortable about teaching through argumentation although there is movement, at least at the college level towards experiential learning through guided discourse. Note that guided, it is not free form, there are constraints and the lessons have to be carefully planned to work otherwise the students wander off into denial land and worse.
Now, as much fun as it is to engage with the Willards o the Wisp the constraints of reality are what bounds scientific discourse. Eli's recent ruminations on the greenhouse effect and gravity as well as the comments are good examples of the characteristic give and take, how strong constraints from distance can set the limits for basic processes that apparently have little to do with the bounding forces, and eye rolls when the denial starts.