Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Pro: Why Scientist Must Be Advocates

           The concept of scientists advocating for causes has caused an uproar all across the scientific community. Ironically, scientists just as partisan as the general public when it comes to picking sides. Many argue that scientists cannot consciously act as both scientists and advocates in fear of generating a bias for whichever cause they vouch for. For scientists, I personally do not believe that bias exists within true science and to suggest so would be to undermine the scientific method altogether. The mere formation of a hypothesis is an educated guess which would then, under the same assumptions, alter a scientist's ability to read, interpret, and produce anything objective because they'd "be looking for the results". This is not only narrow minded but has little to no actual data to suggest data tampering involved in scientific advocacy.

            The figure above gives what some may consider an accurate representation of climate scientists, while climate change is even more evident than ever. Popular media outlets have definitely noticed and pleaded for the cases of many conservationist causes. One that the west of this country is currently experiencing is a raging drought that is leaving plenty of cattle without enough grass to get through the summer (Baguskas, 2014). In fact, its supposed  to be the worst recorded drought in California in 119 years (Estes, 2014). Patterns like these cannot be overlooked but the only ones qualified to record, interpret, and advocate for these red flags are scientists.

             Similarly, leaps and bounds have been made in cancer research which is in direct opposition to the humongous tobacco industry. Back in the sixties and seventies before the afflictions brought on by smoking were made known to the public, there was already research going on towards lung cancer research. What they found was so compelling that it warranted taking up a a good chunk of every cigarette's packaging: that cigarettes have been directly involved in the manifestation of lung cancer (Chapman, 2008). If scientists were to abandon their roles as public advocates, then the potential risk of a threat being pushed to the wayside simply because its message was lost to the public within a peer reviewed article becomes that much greater. Scientists hold a moral obligation to advocate for their research if warranted, if not simply for the methods by which their research is funded generally by government grants. I find that I am firmly pro advocate.


             Baguskas, S. A. (2014). Evaluating spatial patterns of drought-induced tree mortality in a coastal california pine forest. Forest Ecology and Management,315, 43-53. Retrieved from

            Chapman, S. (2008). Public health advocacy and tobacco control: Making smoking history. (1 ed., pp. 11-70). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing. Retrieved from and public advocacy&ots=McEHOeq63y&sig=Ugjh1NIdQivxRTYlAHmfJVd0BfE

             Estes, A. (2014, February 26). How bad is california's drought. Retrieved from

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