This phenomenon is a perfect example of why I think we need to have a big focus on teaching actual critical thinking skills in schools, because like most things in life new skills don’t come easily to adults. The problem is, I’m not sure we typically have enough teachers actually capable of teaching these skills themselves, but we have to start somewhere or the ball will never get started rolling.
Related to this as well, but the anti-intellectual stance taken by large segments of both the left and the right really doesn’t help matters. One side demonizes scientists and experts as ivory tower elites with no clue of what really happens in the world, and the other demonizes them as corporate drones sucking in money from Monsanto and other big businesses to poison the world… or something. Both are not even remotely close to the truth and degrade public trust in science and academia. We can all only, at best, have expertise in a small number of areas. We have to learn to trust those with expertise we don’t have and also have some skills for assessing and trying to critically process what those experts are saying. Particularly when they disagree with one another (or seem to disagree). And that includes evaluating the expertise of these individuals to weigh how much of an expert they actually are.