Michael A. Ranney

Michael Ranney's research explores the nature of explanation and understanding, in both formal and informal domains. His work is intended to foster the incorporation of challenging information (e.g., on global climate change; see the website for HowGlobalWarmingWorks.org). Regarding explanatory coherence, he, his students and his collaborators study and model the nature and utility of reasoning involving both supportive and contradictory relations. They also generate curricula, methods, and artificially intelligent software designed to improve rational thinking. Ranney's work on the representation and reorganization of scientific and societal knowledge exhibits the fragmentary nature of most lay people's knowledge--in arenas as diverse as physics, biology, abortion, and immigration. His latest projects often examine reasoning and policy-making involving socially important rates and statistics. He was a Spencer Fellow of the National Academy of Education and the Spencer Foundation, and he was a University of California Regents' Junior Faculty Fellow. Ranney heads Berkeley's Reasoning Research Group.


"Climate Change Conceptual Change: Scientific Information Can Transform Attitudes." Topics in Cognitive Science, 8(1), 49-75 (with D. Clark, 2016);  http://escholarship.org/uc/item/5rv6s50g and doi: 10.1111/tops.12187​.

"Increased wisdom from the ashes of ignorance and surprise: Numerically Driven Inferencing, global warming, and other exemplar realms." In The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, 65, 129-182 (with E. L. Munnich & L. N. Lamprey, 2016), http://escholarship.org/uc/item/0744s5g6;

"Fostering scientific and numerate practices in journalism to support rapid public learning." In Numeracy, 10, article 3 (with L. Yarnall, 2017),  doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/1936-4660.10.1.3  

"Why don't Americans accept evolution as much as people in peer nations do? A theory (Reinforced Theistic Manifest Destiny) and some pertinent evidence." In K. Rosengren, M. Evans, G. Sinatra, & S. Brem (Eds.) Evolution challenges (pp. 233-269). Oxford: Oxford University Press (2012);

"Designing and assessing numeracy training for journalists: Toward improving quantitative reasoning among media consumers," in Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on the Learning Sciences (with L. Rinne et al., 2008);

"The Perceived Consequences of Evolution: College Students Perceive Negative Personal and Social Impact in Evolutionary Theory," in Science Education (with S. Brem et al., 2003);

"Education," in The MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences (with T. Shimoda, 1999); and

"Toward an Integration of the Social and Scientific: Observing, Modeling, and Promoting the Explanatory Coherence of Reasoning" (with P. Schank), in Connectionist and PDP Models of Social Reasoning (1998).

For a sample of publications, click "morenumerate.org/publications.html" below (or go to convinceme.com and click the "publications" link toward the page's top).

Some Additonal Recent Writings:

Clark, D., Ranney, M.A., & Felipe, J. (2013). Knowledge helps: Mechanistic information and numeric evidence as cognitive levers to overcome stasis and build public consensus on climate change. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics: Proceedings of the 35th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2070-2075). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Ranney, M.A., Clark, D., Reinholz, D., & Cohen, S. (2012). Changing global warming beliefs with scientific information: Knowledge, attitudes, and RTMD (Reinforced Theistic Manifest Destiny theory). In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, & R.P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2228-2233). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

Ranney, M.A., & Thanukos, A. (2011). Accepting evolution or creation in people, critters, plants, and classrooms: The maelstrom of American cognition about biological change. In R. S. Taylor & M. Ferrari (Eds.) Epistemology and science education: Understanding the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy(pp. 143-172). New York: Routledge

Clark, D., & Ranney, M.A. (2010). Known knowns and unknown knowns: Multiple memory routes to improved numerical estimation. In K. Gomez, L. Lyons, & J. Radinsky (Eds.), Learning in the Disciplines: Proceedings of the Ninth International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Volume 1-Full Papers (pp. 460-467). International Society of the Learning Sciences, Inc.

Interests and Professional Affiliations

  • Affiliated Professor in the Psychology Department of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the interdisciplinary Cognitive Science Faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Member of the Executive Committee of the SESAME (Graduate Group in Science and Mathematics Education) Faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Member of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Affiliated Professor, Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced.
  • Member of the Center for Climate Change Communication (CCC) Faculty of the University of California, Merced.
  • Member of the Institute of Personality and Social Research (IPSR) Faculty of the University of California, Berkeley.

Adult Development

Cognitive Development

Human-Computer Interface

Learner-centered Education


Mathematics Education

Policy Analysis and Evaluation

Research Methods

Science Education

Technology and Schools


PhD, University of Pittsburgh: Experimental Cognitive Psychology

MS, University of Pittsburgh: Experimental Cognitive Psychology

BA, University of Colorado, Boulder: Psychology and Molecular, Cellular, & Developmental Biology (double major)

Contact Information

Office #4109

School of Education
Berkeley Way West Building (BWW)
UC Berkeley
2121 Berkeley Way
Berkeley, CA 94720-1670

Office Hours

Thursdays, 4:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
And by appointment. You may send me an e-mail with your phone number, and we'll chat!


(510) 642-1551