John is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Monash Climate Change Communication Research Hub. His research focus is understanding and countering misinformation about climate change, with an emphasis on using critical thinking to build resilience.
He obtained his PhD at the University of Western Australia, studying the cognitive psychology of climate science denial. In 2007, he founded Skeptical Science, a website that won the 2011 Australia Museum Eureka Prize for the Advancement of Climate Change Knowledge. In 2013, he published a paper quantifying the 97% scientific consensus on climate change which was highlighted by President Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron. In 2015 at the University of Queensland, he led the development of a Massive Open Online Course on climate science denial, that has received 40,000+ enrollments from over 185 countries. He co-authored the college textbooks Climate Change: Examining the Facts and Climate Change Science: A Modern Synthesis, as well as the book Climate Change Denial: Heads in the Sand.
His research covers four themes: Detection, Deconstruction, Debunking, and Deployment (summarized as the 4D Project). Detection involves training machine learning models, in collaboration with UK-based political scientists, to automatically detect and categorize climate misinformation in real-time. Deconstruction uses a critical thinking methodology developed with University of Queensland philosophers to analyse and identify reasoning fallacies in misinformation. Debunking myths can take a variety of forms, and he collaborates with US-based communication researchers to experimentally test different approaches and improve psychological understanding of misinformation correction. Deployment involves putting into practice the theoretical insights from the first three themes. For example, the book Cranky Uncle vs. Climate Change applies critical thinking and inoculation research, combining climate science and cartoons to engage and educate readers about climate misinformation. Similarly, the Cranky Uncle game, developed with the U.S. creative agency Autonomy, applies the same approach in the form of a smartphone game that builds players’ resilience against misinformation. He has coauthored a number of handbooks summarising communication best-practices such as The Debunking Handbook and Conspiracy Theory Handbook.