Sunday, June 27, 2010

Science in the public realm

If scientists want to educate the public, they should start by listening.

What this article highlights is that more education doesn't necessarily lead to a better understanding or acceptance of many contentious (to the public) scientific issues. Instead, politics and fear are more important:

"Thus, for instance, resistance to climate science in the United States seems to be linked to a libertarian economic outlook: People who resist what experts tell them about global warming often appear, at heart, to be most worried about the consequences of increased government regulation of carbon emissions. Similarly, based upon my observation, vaccine skepticism seems closely connected to distrust of the pharmaceutical industry and of the federal government's medical research establishment. As for Yucca Mountain, much of the outrage appears to originate in the perceived unfairness of having Nevada proposed as the sole dump site for the waste of an entire nation."

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