Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pro: Scientists Should be Advocates

I'm really torn between the pro and con positions on scientists being advocates. I'm torn because I understand the con point of view, which comes with the assumption that scientists have a finite area of expertise. In cases I agree, however that does not change my position that scientists should be advocates.
 Scientists are great and fast learners, we shouldn’t put limits on their ability to be advocates, we would be doing ourselves a disservice. Some scientists work their entire lives to discover new and exciting information, they should be able to share and be passionate about their research. We have to remember that scientists are people too, they have a moral compass. I believe if that compass points in the direction of educating people on their findings then they should.
“Scientists' obligation to advocate is likely greater than most citizens obligation, given scientists' deeper understanding of relevant facts.”(Nelson et al., 2008)
I believe that if some science goes misunderstood we as a society could face areas of struggle. Scientist don’t have to be involved in policy making but could be the unbiased information and facts behind a policy. Scientists could also guide us in the direction toward conservation by presenting the devastatingly honest and sometimes scary statistics that are occasionally dulled by the media. While scientists do run the risk of losing credibility I believe that not advocating for information that could possible aid in the survival of a particular species and or humans would be much more devastating. 
 Nelson, M. P., & Vucetich, J. A. (2009). On Advocacy by Environmental Scientists: What, Whether, Why, and How. Conservation Biology23(5), 1090-1101.


  1. I agree with you. Especially on the point that scientists are doing themselves and other scientists a disservice by not being advocates. Everyone has a moral compass, it is a part of being human and asking someone to ignore that because scientists should be purely objective is very narrow minded. If scientists care enough about something that they are willing to dedicate countless hours of work then they probably care enough to speak out about it when it can help save a species, an ecosystem, or humans even if their credibility as a "true scientist" is threatened.

  2. It is great that you added that scientist's also have moral compasses and we should definitely trust them as well, but I disagree about it because we have seen in the past many scientists corrupting their results and losing their moral direction. It is true however, that scientists are more passionate about their findings and do deserve to show off their own hard work.

  3. I agree with you that scientists should present unbiased information and facts behind a policy, however I do not believe that it was scientific advocates do. Scientific advocates use information, even if it is presented in an unbiased format, to sway policy and opinion towards their personal viewpoint. Yes, we do have to remember that scientists are human and have a moral compass, but I believe it is possible to do both without intermixing the two. I think we do more a disservice to ourselves when we have scientists present specific viewpoints as compared to all of the information and then allowing policy makers to make their own decision, then we do not having scientists as advocates being the norm.