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Many members of the scientific community attempt to convey information to policymakers and the public. Much of this information is ignored or misinterpreted. This article describes why these outcomes occur and how science communicators can achieve better outcomes. The article focuses on two challenges associated with communicating scientific information to such audiences. One challenge is that people have less capacity to pay attention to scientific presentations than many communicators anticipate. A second challenge is that people in politicized environments often make different choices about whom to believe than do people in other settings.
Human societies are confronted with a continuous stream of new problems. Many of these problems are caused by a limited sector of society but cause “spillover costs” to society as a whole. Here we show how a combination of mechanisms tends to delay effective regulation of such situations.