Advocacy and scientific credibility

To the surprise of few, I suspect, it appears that scientists can advocate without damaging their, or the scientific community’s, credibility. It’s reported in this paper, [d]oes Engagement in Advocacy Hurt the Credibility of Scientists? and is discussed in this article.

The bottom line appears to be that there are forms of advocacy that do not negatively impact credibility, but that advocacting for something specific may do so:

Our results suggest that scientists who wish to engage in certain forms of advocacy may be able to do so without directly harming their credibility, or the credibility of the scientific community. …..Therefore, at a minimum, it is a mistake to assume that all normative statements made by scientists are detrimental to their credibility.

That said, negative effects may occur, depending on the specific policy endorsed.

I think this is somewhat similar to what I’ve always thought; how a scientist’s advocacy is received depends on whether it is something strongly supported by the scientific evidence, or something that is clearly strongly influenced by their own views/opinions. Pointing out that addressing climate change will require reducing emissions, might be a form of advocacy but it is strongly supported by the evidence and isn’t very specific (it doesn’t say how to do so, and doesn’t even rule out continuing to use fossil fuels). Advocating for something very specific, however, could influence a scientist’s credibility.

Maybe the most insightful comment was from Simon Donner (H/T Doug McNeall), quoted in this article

“public audiences are arguably more comfortable with advocacy by scientists than scientists are with advocacy by scientists,”

Yup, certainly my impression, although I would add that another group who are uncomfortable are those who don’t like the implications of what the evidence suggests.

Anyway, I think this all seems reasonably obvious to me (okay, that doesn’t mean that it’s right); I think most people would expect scientists/researchers to speak out if their research indicates that there are risks associated with various activities. The researchers just have to be a little careful about how they do so – it’s better to present information that is strongly supported by the evidence, rather than advocating for specifics that might depend on personal opinions more than on the actual evidence. Having said that, I don’t think scientists/researchers should not do the latter, they should simply be very clear that they are expressing their personal opinion, rather than expressing a view that is strongly supported by the scientific evidence.

Other posts:

Gavin Schmidt on Advocacy.

Science and Silence.

Science and Policy.

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55 Responses to Advocacy and scientific credibility

  1. I would add that another group who are uncomfortable are those who don’t like the implications of what the evidence suggests.

    The political activists of the mitigation sceptical movement are very comfortable with advocacy as long as it is by people they perceive to be tribe members. Judith Curry’s advocacy for doing nothing is fine. The support of Anthony Watts for nuclear power is fine. The post “Lennart Bengtsson: Global climate change and its relevance for a global energy policy” where their Swedish hero advocates nuclear power has been a top post at the Climate Onion for years and years.

    Probably everyone perceives advocacy less as advocacy if they agree. Then they just hear a normal common sense opinion and are not likely to start thinking about “advocacy”. The degree of tribalism of the mitigation sceptical movement is, however, extraordinary.

    Their protests against scientists speaking up are transparent attempts at shutting up what they see as the opposition. At this blog they also said multiple times that they would trust climate scientists if only they would advocate for nuclear power. That advocacy is clearly okay. Ironically that was the only thing the study mentioned in this post would hurt the credibility of the advocate.

    It makes sense that advocacy for nuclear power is seen with suspicion. It does not follow from the research on climate change, from that you can only conclude the emissions need to go down and that we need to replace dirty energy sources with carbon-free energy sources, but not the specific power source.

    It would be interesting to see if advocacy for renewable energy would hurt the reputation of scientists. Wind and solar have strong support in the population (even among US Republicans) and it may thus just been seen as a common sense opinion. It would also be interesting to see whether a nuclear physicist or an electrical engineer advocating nuclear power would hurt their reputation although they have the right expertise.

    public audiences are arguably more comfortable with advocacy by scientists than scientists are with advocacy by scientists,

    Scientists are very comfortable with advocacy for science funding. Pointing this out before I got replies that science funding is obviously a good thing. I agree with that, but it is still advocacy. The Trump administration is just shifting their budget from science to war. That is a political choice, just as the opposite shift is.

  2. The political activists of the mitigation sceptical movement are very comfortable with advocacy as long as it is by people they perceive to be tribe members.

    Indeed, as demonstrated by the lack of an outcry about the letter to Trump, signed by 300 scientists (or people claiming to be scientists).

  3. Barry Woods says:

    does it all depend… on what you are advocating?

    Is the main ‘problem, when scientists step outside their field? or become specific policy
    Whilst I agree with say Hansen ref nuclear, he is not a nuclear engineer and just annoys the wind solar advocators, with his tooth fairy, Easter bunny comment about wind/solar or his remarks dismissing environmental organisations like Greenpeace. and then gets attacked as an advocate.

    Then again, does that limit everyone. you do not need to be a nuclear engineer, gas power engineer, wind or solar engineer, to look at the issues and come to your own conclusions. or even an economist to do the economics of that policy. Tamsin Edwards had an article ages ago on advocacy, that thought was misinterpreted by many (perhaps deliberately by some) on this issue.. but perhaps a good point would be to stress to the audience, when you are stepping outside of your own field.. ie not your expertise (so not to get I’m an expert talking) but your own opinion.. Which does not preclude your own intelligent analysis of why.

    Advocating for emissions reductions would be fine by me..(even if I thought it was wrong) It just becomes more problematic, when ‘scientists’ just /advocate (lending the ‘expert credibility’) to a policy choice. Even perhaps Hansen’s choice,(which I would agree with)

  4. Barry Woods says:

    Sorry, I should have put the links/references in for Hansen

    Revkin: – Jim Hansen Presses the Climate Case for Nuclear Energy (tooth fairy quote)
    https://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/23/jim-hansen-presses-the-climate-case-for-nuclear-energy/?_r=0

    Not Greenpeace by name-he referred to ‘Big Green’ – a more diplomatic name (but no less critical) of the ‘Green blob’ ?
    http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/iowa-view/2014/10/11/james-hansen-climate-change-speaking-truth-power/17118625/

    Hansen – “I have one minor, easy suggestion for you to consider, and another requiring more effort.
    The first concerns “Big Green,” the large environmental organizations, which have become one of the biggest obstacles to solving the climate problem. After I joined other scientists in requesting the leaders of Big Green to reconsider their adamant opposition to nuclear power, and was rebuffed, I learned from discussions with them the major reason: They feared losing donor support. Money, it seems, is the language they understand. Thus my suggestion: The next time you receive a donation request, doubtless accompanied with a photo of a cuddly bear or the like, toss it in the waste bin and return a note saying that you will consider a donation in the future, if they objectively evaluate the best interests of young people and nature.” – Hansen

    Is that advocacy?, because I would support this type of advocacy (even if I disagreed). As I don’t think that it is unclear, that he is talking outside of his field. The danger I felt is when people are advocating for something, and it is unclear whether (Prof this, or Dr that) is talking outside of their field of expertise and perhaps the audience might give more weight to their opinions- because ‘expert’, than perhaps might be wise. However, I do think this is a bigger problem on TV, in perhaps short or very edited sequences, or rapid question/answer sessions with an interviewer.

  5. John Hartz says:

    Precipitated by the research paper cited in the OP and by the assault on climate science and scientists by the Trump Regime and the Republican/Tea Party members of Congress, a growing number of articles have been posted about the need for scientists to speak out. The introductory paragraphs of one such article:

    Scientists have historically stayed above the political fray, but now that researchers face regular attacks under the Trump administration, many are planning to fight back.

    And it’s creating a rift within the scientific community. Some scientists believe their work should speak for itself. Others say academics need to stand up for evidence-based inquiry — particularly where the fate of the planet is concerned. The March for Science, planned for April 22 on the National Mall, has drawn both sharp criticism and enthusiastic praise from scientists.

    In the midst of this debate, newly published research has come down on the side of the outspoken. Not only do climate scientists have the public’s trust, they also have considerable latitude to advocate for climate action, a new study finds.

    Why Scientists Should Speak Out by Jeremy Deaton, Nexus Media, Mar 2, 2017

  6. Joshua says:

    It seems to me there are two problems that we could be talking about here. The one that “skeptics” are deeply alarmed about is the politicization of science. But a problem they don’t seem to talk about much is the de-scientization of politics. Consider how often you read from “skeptics” about how instead of focusing on mitigation of the risk for a CO2 emissions, we should be focused on the “no regrets” approach of increasing our resilience to climate risks independent of any increased risk from ACO2 emissions. In other words we should focus our efforts on infrastructure.

    And then read this article.

    –snip–
    The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.

    The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.
    –snip–

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/03/03/white-house-proposes-steep-budget-cut-to-leading-climate-science-agency/

    So here is what I will be watching as a form of spectator sport. Will trump supporting “skeptics,” who are on the record as saying that we should be focusing efforts on infrastructure and “adaptation,” reconcile their Trump support with Trump reality?

    My motivated reasoning Magic 8-Ball says “Outlook not so good.”

    A “decoupling” of science from politics is the what is likely to happen while “skeptics” unwittingly or not lay a smokescreen by hand-wringing and pearl clutching with heir faux concern aboutu the deleterious effects of ‘activist scientists. ” Although I suppose that the (few? ) ” skeptics” who can see past their Trump toadyism to see what’s going on, may be likely to argue that the de-scientization of politics is the ligical outcome of the politicization of science.

  7. That is clear advocacy by James Hansen and while I do not share his opinion this does not diminish my trust in his science. In that respect it is a pity that apparently the public does respond somewhat in that way.

    What does diminish my trust in Hansen’s work is his advocacy in the scientific literature. Not by much, but I wish he would stop doing that and I wish that reviewers would tell him not to do that. If your last paragraph is that we need to save our grandchildren that can influence the rest of the article. While writing an article your brain should be in science mode. The American science wars should be kept out of the literature.

    (For the record, this does not diminish my trust in the scientific literature because that depends on many researchers, who pray on each other’s biases. We have always had scientific progress while scientists were normal imperfect humans.)

  8. John Hartz says:

    Victor:

    For the record, this does not diminish my trust in the scientific literature because that depends on many researchers, who pray on each other’s biases

    Freudian slip?

  9. Joshua says:

    Anders –

    =={ how a scientist’s advocacy is received depends on whether it is something strongly supported by the scientific evidence, or something that is clearly strongly influenced by their own views/opinions. }==

    I would suggest something slightly different there. IMO, the “or” is rather misplaced. What I’m saying is that how a scientist’s advocacy is received depends on how someone’s preexisting views influence their perspective on whether the science is strongly supported.

  10. What I’m saying is that how a scientist’s advocacy is received depends on how someone’s preexisting views influence their perspective on whether the science is strongly supported.

    Yes, this is probably true.

  11. John Hartz says:

    Victor:

    For the record, this does not diminish my trust in the scientific literature because that depends on many researchers, who pray on each other’s biases.

    Freudian slip? 🙂

  12. Joshua says:

    Victor –

    =={ It would be interesting to see if advocacy for renewable energy would hurt the reputation of scientists. } ==

    Related, from the article:

    –snip–

    We found that perceived credibility of the communicating scientist was uniformly high in five of the six message conditions, suffering only when he advocated for a specific policy—building more nuclear power plants (although credibility did not suffer when advocating for a different specific policy—carbon dioxide limits at power plants).

    […]

    The fifth [experimental variable – Facebook post by a “scientist”] on the continuum was operationalized by a statement urging one of two specific actions on climate change. One was a message endorsing a policy designed to be congruent for liberals (limiting CO2 at coal power plants); the other was a message endorsing a policy designed to be congruent for conservatives (building more nuclear plants).
    –snip–

  13. John Hartz says:

    Courtesy of ClimateTruth.org…

    “White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency,” The Washington Post, 03-03-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1612?t=5&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “Trump’s EPA Halts Request for Methane Information From Oil and Gas Producers,” InsideClimate News, 03-03-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1613?t=7&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “Former EPA scientists to Trump: ‘Evidence does not change when the administration changes,’” The New York Times, 03-02-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1606?t=9&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “Former EPA Head Says White House Budget An ‘Attack’ On Agency And Science,” The Huffington Post, 03-01-2017
    http://act.climatetruth.org/go/1611?t=11&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “Hundreds rally for science at demonstration near AAAS meeting,” Science, 02-19-2017
    http://act.climatetruth.org/go/1607?t=13&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “Hundreds gather in Copley to ‘stand up for science,'” The Boston Globe, 02-19-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1610?t=15&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “‘Science for the people’: researchers challenge Trump outside US conference,” The Guardian, 02-19-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1608?t=17&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

    “‘We did not start this fight’: In Trump era’s dawn, scientists rally in Boston,” The Washington Post, 02-19-2017
    https://act.climatetruth.org/go/1609?t=19&akid=6308.20873.PRRmG4

  14. John Hartz, no just bad English.

    Should be: For the record, this does not diminish my trust in the scientific literature because that depends on many researchers, who prey on each other’s biases.

  15. Willard says:

    I pity the fool who would remind JimH of journal policies. As The Benshi often says, in an ideal world brute facts and scientific explanations would suffice, but we do not live in an ideal world. It would be easy to challenge that counterfactual by handwaving to Kurt Vonnegut Jr’s scientists characters. Passionless personas make bad PR.

    Peddling the same ClimateBall episodes over and over again can be boring. To make it more interesting, I could take on BarryW’s innuendo and either argue that Judy misrepresented Tamsin or that he himself misrepresents her point. I could also point out that Tamsin’s point conflicts with the myth of the Honest Broker, as I did at Judy’s:

    https://judithcurry.com/2013/07/31/tamsin-on-scientists-and-policy-advocacy/#comment-358086

    Peddling new ClimateBall episodes is a sound alternative. To make sure it’s new, here’s a review of the lichurchur:

    https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/?s=tamsin

  16. The please is all mine. I would be incredibly sad if I would I only communicate not to lose climateball. JHansen has plenty of opportunities to display his passion outside of the literachur.

  17. Barry Woods says:

    Tamsin’s article – you decide. and I have absolutely no intention of misrepresenting her. . https://www.theguardian.com/science/political-science/2013/jul/31/climate-scientists-policies

  18. Barry,
    I don’t really see the point in discussing whether or not Tamsin’s article was mis-interpreted by some people. The key point of the study being discussed here is that scientists/researchers can advocate without damaging their credibility, or the credibility of the scientific community, as long as they’re careful about how they do so – it appears to relate mainly to whether they’re advocating for something specific, or not.

  19. BBD says:

    it appears to relate mainly to whether they’re advocating for something specific, or not.

    Which begs the question of whether Hansen’s advocacy that nuclear not be excluded from the palette of low carbon technologies has damaged his credibility as a climate scientist.

    This is very odd. Most ‘sceptics’ regard Hansen as a Bad Thing and yet when he says the n-word he’s okay. But presumably, ‘sceptics’ still think his sciencey stuff is a Bad Thing. It’s confusing.

  20. BBD,
    I suspect it also depends on whether or not he’s advocating for something they agree with.

  21. Willard says:

    > I don’t really see the point in discussing whether or not Tamsin’s article was mis-interpreted by some people.

    The point would be to parry an alternative sequence that could follow from BarryW’s strawman eating a red herring:

    [BarryW] Tamsin Edwards had an article ages ago on advocacy, that thought was misinterpreted by many (perhaps deliberately by some) on this issue.

    [A past incarnation of BBD, say] Come on. That’s a strawman. Name names.

    [BarryW] Since you kindly ask, here’s one: [AT, say].

    Then the peddling becomes complete.

    ClimateBall is a word placement discipline.

  22. Joshua says:

    =={ it appears to relate mainly to whether they’re advocating for something specific, or not. }==

    Not according to the article in the OP (with a “one study caveat”) .

    Besides, that argument runs close to the Curry et al. fallacy – that creates false distinctions between their favored types of advocacy and any other advocacy (e.g.,” It’s only advocacy if I disagree with it.”)

    What is “something specific?” Is not, “don’t risk cost on mitigation” something specific?” Is testifying on behalf of Republican Congress critters not “something specific ?” Is ignoring climate scientists who say that part of their job is to advocate for small government “something specific?”

  23. Not according to the article in the OP (with a “one study caveat”) .

    Okay, they’ve defined “CO2 reduction” as a specific policy option. Seems that it’s more certain specific advocacy positions, rather than any specific advocacy positions.

  24. Joshua says:

    =={ Seems that it’s more certain specific advocacy position s }==

    Not sure we can even use the plural there. I’d say that trying to generalize from that study is problematic unless we know more about the underlying causal mechanism. Why would only that one, specific, policy advocacy have a blowback effect?

  25. Willard says:

    From the horse’s mouth:

    With regard to RQ1a [Do higher levels of advocacy result in lower levels of perceived credibility of the communicating climate scientist?], we found that Dr. Wilson’s credibility suffered only when he advocated for the specific policy of building more nuclear power plants to address climate change compared to a purely informational statement about a recent finding […] Equivalence testing suggested that providing information about the risks of climate change, discussing the pros and cons of specific policies, urging action without advocating for a specific policy, and advocating for limits on CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants resulted in credibility levels statistically indistinguishable from informing about a recent finding (see Table 1).

    I don’t think the authors controlled this effect against the participants’ beliefs on nukes.

  26. Joshua,

    I’d say that trying to generalize from that study is problematic unless we know more about the underlying causal mechanism. Why would only that one, specific, policy advocacy have a blowback effect?

    I see what you mean. Fair point.

  27. Joshua says:

    =={ I don’t think the authors controlled this effect against the participants’ beliefs on nukes.} ==

    Related, but not the same, they did control for political ideology (which does generally track with views on nuklur – for GWB fans), which is an associated measure.

  28. Joshua says:

    –snip–
    Excerpts: President Trump Says The Time For Trivial Fights Is Behind Us
    –snip–

    –snip–
    Trump finally gets a presidential fashion makeover, matching his more polished speech to Congress
    –snip–

    https://mobile.twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/838016045222854656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

  29. Joshua says:

    Donald Trump = de-politicizing the science or de-scientizating the politics. You make the call.

  30. Joshua says:

    Willard –

    How will I know when I will get an a actual tweet when I post a link in a blog comment and when I will get just the url hypertext?

  31. I think you did mobile twitter. I think you need to post the non-mobile link

  32. Joshua says:

    Can I get a non-mobile link on my phone?

  33. I think you can request a PC version. My phone has a “More” option on the menu bar which then has “Request PC version” as an option. Otherwise, I think you can simply edit the URL.

  34. Joshua says:

    I’ll try that. What can I chop off them url?

  35. You need to remove the word “mobile”, but there also seemed to be some extra characters at the end, so it may not be as straightforward as I suggested.

  36. Joshua says:

  37. Joshua says:

    Yeah. Just taking out “mobile” works. Thanks.

  38. hvw says:

    I think this is somewhat similar to what I’ve always thought; how a scientist’s advocacy is received depends on whether it is something strongly supported by the scientific evidence, or something that is clearly strongly influenced by their own views/opinions. …. Advocating for something very specific, however, could influence a scientist’s credibility.

    This is not in the paper. On the contrary. Advocacy for “limiting CO2 at coal power plants” was used a a treatment that is just as view/opinion based and removed from science as “building more NPPs”. But resulted in no effect.

    To me it is clear that the NPP question was a bad idea for this study because nuclear power is a highly ideological and polarized topic as well. Therefore that effect can’t be reasonably interpreted (the authors do not hide that). Consequently one should not interpret that partial result and stick with “failed to reject credibility loss through advocacy”.

  39. Joshua says:

    hvw –

    =={ This is not in the paper. On the contrary. Advocacy for “limiting CO2 at coal power plants” was used a a treatment that is just as view/opinion based and removed from science as “building more NPPs”. But resulted in no effect. ]==

    I think we pretty much covered that in the comments.

    =={ To me it is clear that the NPP question was a bad idea for this study because nuclear power is a highly ideological and polarized topic as well. Therefore that effect can’t be reasonably interpreted (the authors do not hide that). Consequently one should not interpret that partial result and stick with “failed to reject credibility loss through advocacy”. }==

    I tend to agree – in particular because of how they controlled for political ideology.

  40. hvw could be right, but maybe the researchers also did not manage to create a politically symmetrical situation.

    “Limiting CO2 at coal power plants” is part of limiting CO2 emissions and it is logical to start with the largest CO2 source per unit energy (and somewhat unrelated with the power source that pollutes the air most).

    That is different from advocating for nuclear power, but not for other zero-emission sources. Then you wonder why not the other cheaper options.

    But, yes, it could also be that TV nuclear scientists in white lab coats lost trust promising it was the future of near zero cost power and completely save.

  41. hvw,

    This is not in the paper. On the contrary. Advocacy for “limiting CO2 at coal power plants” was used a a treatment that is just as view/opinion based and removed from science as “building more NPPs”. But resulted in no effect.

    Yes, fair point. It does seem that there are some specific things that are acceptable, and others that are not.

  42. Magma says:

    I’m pretty sure this is a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ scenario.

    A. Scientists take public position on anthropogenic climate change consequences and policy: “They’re just advocates so their work can be discounted and ignored.”

    B. Scientists don’t take public position on anthropogenic climate change consequences and policy: “If these scientists really thought this was a problem they’d say something.”

  43. Andrew Dodds says:

    And just for kicks

    C. Scientist casts self as Galilean Untainted Outsider, denounces the ‘mainstream consensus’, advocates business as usual – ‘He’s a hero! Let’s listen to this guy. Trebles all around.’

  44. I think it’s more a a lose-lose as I’ve also recently encountered some who argue that climate scientists should somehow police those who promote technology that is clearly doing more harm than good (or should object to what is being done in the name of alarmism). So, somehow they should remain policy neutral while still policing/objecting to any solution that is clearly doing more harm than good.

  45. John Hartz says:

    Prominent scientists in the US have been speaking out on the need for scientists to become advocates in the public arena. Here’s one such example…

    I’m a scientist trained in engineering, hydrology, climatology, environmental science, statistics, and more. But more importantly, I’m a citizen who believes deeply in the principles our founders enshrined in the Constitution. Like many others in my broad circles of colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family, I’ve found the news over the past few weeks to be frightening. I have colleagues in countries targeted by travel and religious bans. My work uses scientific data collected, managed, and now potentially censored or hidden by federal agencies. I see congressional representatives and committees seek out bad science to support predetermined and ideological positions, and then threaten scientists who challenge them.

    Scientists aren’t great organizers; we’re often too focused inward on our work or the fascinating and narrow questions we’re trying to tackle. There is an inherent fear that the integrity of our scientific work could be tainted by politics. And there are few rewards and plenty of criticism when scientists express opinions about policy and politics. But when the time comes to speak, to stand up, those of us who can must do so. That time has come. But what can I do?

    I’m Marching to Fight the Alarming War on Science. Join Me by Peter Gleick, Wired, Mar 3, 2017

  46. Magma says:

    I should have made it clear (if it wasn’t obvious) that that could be the contrarian spin but that the general public might hold quite different views. Polls have indicated that even in the hyper-partisan U.S. and after many years of climate disinformation, scientists are still a widely trusted group.

  47. Joshua says:

    Magma –

    =={ Polls have indicated that even in the hyper-partisan U.S. and after many years of climate disinformation, scientists are still a widely trusted group. }==

    –snip–
    Over the life of the measure, ratings for nearly every one of these institutions has declined “with one exception” (Smith 2013). “The exception is . . . the Scientific Community,” in whom confidence “has varied little and shown no decline.” So much for Americans’ “growing distrust” of science.

    In fact, over that entire period, “the people running” the “Scientific community” have ranked second, initially to those “running” medicine, but in more recent years to the “people running” the “military.” One can see that in this graphic, which I generated with the 1972-2014 dataset:

    But what about those supposedly “antiscience” groups like conservatives and religious folks?

    Turns out that they have displayed a remarkably high and consistent degree of confidence in those “running” the “Scientific community,” too. Across the life of the measure, they both have consistently ranked the “Scientific community” as second or (in the case of religious folks for one time interval) third in confidence-worthiness

    Indeed, conservatives ranked the “people running” the “Scientific community” higher than the “people running” the “Executive branch” of the federal government during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

    –snip–

    I have to admit, the data on the effect of religiosity has me doing some serious head-scratching.

  48. Susan Anderson says:

    VV, it appears it is a whole lot easier to spread fear than wisdom. Sad, tragic even, under the circs (from the beleaguered US of A).

  49. izen says:

    @-Joshua
    Interesting the opposite movements of education and the military between the end of the Vietnam war and 2014

    After watching the Tim Palmer video from the last thread Youtube keeps ‘suggesting’ videos I may want to watch.
    This piece of …. advocacy has cropped up a couple of times. I haven’t managed to watch it through yet. I hope I have disabled playback or embedding to spare those who would also find curry on the menu unpalatable.

    ]x[|https://youtu.be/1L5AVBOh4SM|]x[

  50. Willard says:

    Exactly what are scientists entertaining award-winning journalists ‘for’?

    Exactly what are scientists writing energy think tanks reports ‘for’?

    Exactly what are scientists promoting energy policy recommendations for the Donald administration ‘for’?

    Exactly what are scientists retweeting Lamar Smith’s Communication Director ‘for’?

  51. Joshua says:

    Exactly what are scientists, after having built a reputational and networking platform on the public dime before launching into a lucrative private sector endeavors while criticizing the institutions that buttered their bread for decades, for?

  52. Joshua says:

    BTW –

    I would guess that Judith is ecstatic:

    –snip–
    “An open and honest scientific process is long overdue at EPA. American taxpayers have often had to foot the bill for regulations and rules based on hidden science that has not been available for review by the public. We want to change that. The HONEST Act of 2017 is about ensuring public access to the very science that underpins rules and regulations by EPA. This bill would prohibit any future regulations from taking effect unless the underlying scientific data is public.

    “The Science Advisory Board at EPA has the opportunity to include a more balanced group of scientists to assist EPA in fulfilling its core mission. With the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017, conflicts of interest will be reduced. This bill would ensure that scientists advising EPA on regulatory decisions are not the same scientists receiving EPA grants. As both of these bills move forward, our committee is working hard to preserve EPA’s scientific integrity and to help strengthen EPA’s internal review process.”
    –snip–

    https://science.house.gov/news/press-releases/sst-committee-members-introduce-honest-and-open-new-epa-science-treatment-act-0

    Great! A law that will enforce “honest-brokering.”

    And don’t forget, we will have Lamar Smith to be our protector, all that much reassuring since he misreported on Bates’ statements about Karl, and since he let us know that maybe the only way to get the truth is through Trump..

  53. Magma says:

    “The Science Advisory Board at EPA has the opportunity to include a more balanced group of scientists to assist EPA in fulfilling its core mission.”

    It’s clearly been too heavily weighted towards competent, reputable scientists in recent years. Time to rebalance it with the other sort.

  54. Willard says:

    Another activist steps in:

    [M]easured resistance may feel unsatisfyingly hard to define. Given the many variables involved in any one threat to science — including the perceived identities at stake and the way the threat is executed — it’s hard to generalize about what the “right” response entails. With climate change, for instance, if our goal is environmentally protective federal legislation, maybe massive public protests like the Women’s March are necessary to generate the political will. Or maybe, as the behavioral economist Cass Sunstein has suggested, the best remedy for disbelief anchored in tribal allegiances is the identification of “surprising validators” — people willing to advocate for science who are trusted by any given group because of their shared identity.2 One recent example is a group of prominent conservatives who published a proposed policy for slowing global warming.5 But the reality is that we know far more about the challenges to communicating science than about how we might overcome them.

    http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1702362

    So here could be a hypothesis as to why inactivists wonder what people are marching ‘for’:

    SO WHO YOU GONNA CALL when Fox News says they want a spokesperson for global warming? You want my honest opinion? Call Ed Begley, Jr. He’s likeable. He’s a celebrity. He knows he’s not an expert on climate science. He knows how to point you to the experts. And he knows how to match their irrationality, point for point, by throwing his irrational force (emotion and humor) back at their irrational force (distortion and hyperbole). He gave what I felt was the very best television performance around the Climate Gate issue back when it first broke.

    Of course all the right wingers attacked and ridiculed him for “losing his mind,” but that’s because they were frustrated at not having their usual easy opponent — a fact-filled, dead serious scientist or environmentalist that they can spin circles around. Did he “win” the “debate”? Not by any stretch. But he also definitely didn’t “lose” it. With a spokesperson like him the worst outcome is just a tie. Whereas with a major knowledgeable scientist the worst outcome is to be perceived as having “presented the case,” and lost.

    […]

    And here’s the clincher — guess who the booker on The Colbert Report says they want as their guests. Last spring I attended Book Expo where Emily Lazar, the person who books their guests was on a panel discussion. She said they basically want stiffs — dull, dry academics who are not “self-aware” — which means they lack humor and emotion. Her basic rule of thumb was, “There’s only room for one comedian on the show.” Think that through. They want highly rational people that Colbert can easily spin circles around. They want THE EXACT SAME PEOPLE that Fox News and Marc Morano want.

    As I said, it’s TELEVISION!

    http://thebenshi.com/?p=157

    Marching may very well be the only panacea for humans. It’s good for the heart. It’s a good counter to those hyperrationals with their silly loaded questions.

    And send them those videos about how Koreans turn it into a party.

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