College of Humanities and Social Sciences

John Cook, PhD

Assistant Research Professor, Center for Climate Change Communication

Faculty Directory

Research Focus

My research focus is misinformation about climate change – how to better understand misinformation and develop responses to counter its influence. My research into understanding misinformation includes using machine learning to automatically detect misinforming arguments, content analysis identifying the types of character attacks on climate scientists, and using critical thinking analysis to identify the fallacies within denialist arguments.

Current Projects

■ CARDS (Computer Assisted Recognition of Denial & Skepticism): Using machine learning to detect and categorize climate misinformation, to develop the “holy grail of fact-checking” (automatic detection & refutation of online misinformation)

■ TMEO (Turning Misinformation into an Educational Opportunity): Drawing on my research into misconception-based learning and critical thinking, I developed climate curriculum being implemented and tested in high schools nationally

■ Skeptical Science Experiment: The Skeptical Science website receives 3.7 million visitors per year, mostly from Google searches about climate misinformation. We will collect pre and post-test survey data from visitors, identifying the characteristics of effective debunkings

■ Mobile Serious Game: Developing a mobile game that uses interactive exercises and cartoons to engage students and the general public with the goal of raising critical thinking skills about climate change

Select Publications

Cook, J., et al. (2013). Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. Environmental Research Letters, 8(2), 024024.

Cook, J., et al. (2017). Neutralizing misinformation through inoculation: exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence. PloS One, 12(5), e0175799.

Cook, J., et al. (2018). Deconstructing climate misinformation to identify reasoning errors. Environmental Research Letters, 13(2), 024018.

Lewandowsky, S., et al. (2017). Beyond misinformation: understanding and coping with the “post-truth” era. Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition, 6(4), 353-369.



Phone: 703-993-5126