Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pro: If scientists don't advocate, who will?

Scientists need to advocate for their science. To put it simply, if the people who understand the situation best don't bring attention to it, who will? It could be argued that scientists do publish their findings, technically sharing it with the world that has the responsibility to do what they will. However, in reality these articles are published in scientific journals that the average citizen would have to pay an exorbitant amount to access. Citizens not trained in the jargon and specificity of certain scientific fields probably would not have the time and energy to decipher it anyways.

"With society moving toward a collapse, the idea that scientists, especially ecologists, should just do their work, present their data and not do any interpretation leads to the kind of imbecility we have in Washington today, where you have an entire Congress that is utterly clueless about how the natural world works," Paul Ehrlich said in a Stanford article.

Considering how many scientific journals there are, a pertinent piece of information could sit for years without being noticed by anyone outside of the scientific community. Even if it is noticed, the person or group discovering it most likely wants the information for their personal use and will pick quotes that support their own statements as opposed to sharing the scientists’ statements.

In a way, scientists who advocate for causes they discovered within their results are protecting the validity of the science itself by sharing the actual significance. This directly contrasts with the common opposition that advocacy compromises the credibility of the science.

“[Paul Ehrlich also] said that scientists, before they embark on a research project, should ask themselves, 'How, if my research yields all the results I'd hoped for, will it make any difference to the world?'" If an ecologist doesn’t speak up the object of their study may disappear. Their research may be used to save a species and with this type of problem, time is essential.

Bergeron, L. (2011, 8 11). Scientists must leave the ivory tower and become advocates, or civilization is endangered, says stanford biologist paul ehrlich.Stanford Report

1 comment:

  1. I agreed with your points about sharing the actual significance of the study. I believe that's why it is so important that scientists be educators as well. I'd like to add that when scientists share their information, more people have a chance to join the discussion and question the validity of a study, thus increasing the standards of credibility and nonbias. When scientists share their information people become empowered to make their own informed judgment calls about policy.