Marches for Science

Tomorrow is the day of Marches for Science. The idea of a march for science has somewhat divided people, although along rather predictable lines. There’s concern that it will be seen as politicising science. There’s concern that it will be seen as a march for scientists, rather than as a march for science. There have been issues related to inclusivity and diversity. Science should aim to be inclusive and diverse and should aim to avoid being seen as being associated with mainly one group; some of the rhetoric around these marches did not make this sufficiently clear.

My own view is that even though this hasn’t always been promoted as carefully as it could have been, I think it is good to see people who are passionate about something trying to stand up for what they believe in. The intention, as I understand it, is to highlight the important role that science plays in our lives and to protest against attempts to undermine our scientific understanding when it presents results that are inconvenient to some.

I was, however, wanting to make a fairly simple point, because this is – I think – a fairly simple issue, and scientists (well, myself, at least) have a rather simple view of this. As far as I’m aware, people who do science (and, by science, I really mean research in general) are ultimately interested in trying to understand whatever system it is that they are studying. They believe that they can gather information about that system and analyse that information in a way that will allow us to improve our understanding of the system being studied. They also believe that this information should be made available to society in general and that it should be used to inform decisions that influence how we live our lives.

There are, of course, strong caveats. This information does not – by itself – tells us what decisions should be made, or even how we should live our lives. There may be some things that we (as a society) decide should not be studied. This information may also allow for certain things that we might choose not to do. There may even be cases where we make decisions that seem at odds with the available evidence. There will also be many occasions where other factors, that are more difficult to quantify, strongly influence what we might choose to do.

However, most scientists (as far as I’m aware) think that an informed society is better than one that is not informed. They believe that we should at least accept this information, even if we end up doing things that seem counter-intuitive, given that information. If we start (as seems to be the case) justifying views on the basis of rejecting information that is regarded as reliable and well supported by the evidence, then that would seem to suggest that these views are not well informed.

At the end of the day, science/research provides valuable information that can help to inform society and we should be willing to recognise this, even if some of what is presented is inconvenient; people, especially those who represent us, should be able to defend their views in the light of the available evidence, not reject the available evidence when it appears to be at odds with their views.

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46 Responses to Marches for Science

  1. I think Neil deGrasse Tyson makes a good point in this video about emergent truths (although I don’t always like the term truths, in this context).

  2. John Hartz says:

    An interesting and encouraging development surroundding the March(es) for Science…

    On Saturday, thousands of Chicagoans are expected to hit the pavement on South Columbus Drive in support of one of the hundreds of rallies being held under the auspices of the March for Science. In the crowd will be Brian Sauder, who grew up in a deeply religious Anabaptist community in rural Tazewell County in Illinois, where he passed time fishing and hunting. Now a minister in Chicago, Sauder is just one of many faith leaders who are planning to join the march, and see little conflict between faith and science.

    “Our goal is to get people of faith from across Chicago to march for science,” Sauder told ScienceInsider. “We want to show that people of faith do take science seriously and that this perception that there is a deep divide is indeed not true.”

    Hoping for an outdoors career in fisheries or wildlife management, Sauder studied environmental science at the University of Illinois in Champaign as an undergraduate. But as he began to understand the science of climate change, he noted that people living in developing countries, who make the smallest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions, are likely to suffer the most drastic consequences of planetary warming. “I started thinking,” he says, “that if my faith calls me to care for the least of those among me, how does the science that I am learning integrate with my faith?”

    Faith groups backing march see an ally in science by Ryan Cross, Science (AAAS), Apr 20, 2017

  3. “Faith groups backing march see an ally in science” this is rich.
    Regarding Tyson, his words are similarly ironic and poignantly reflective of the problem.
    Politics are emotional not rational. We all believe we are rational, as Tyson does, but the things we do to exert power over someone else ( politics ) are emotional based on the emotions of an idealized outcome.
    Tyson cites warming, which is a calculable result.
    But then moves immediately to political action.
    A trap we may all fall into – having more answers than questions.
    How much warming? To what effect? To what harm? To what benefit?
    To get to political action, one must be in denial of a certain amount of other science:
    * We are carbon based life forms which depend on the photosynthesis of atmospheric CO2
    * Apparently, global biomass has increased in concert with CO2 enrichment
    * Climate is primarily determined not by CO2 or global mean temperature, but by largely immutable factors: orbits, earth geometry and orography.
    * The extent and duration of CO2 based warming is likely small in comparison with inter-glacial episodes through which humans evolved
    * There are many modeled benefits to warming, including a reduction in strong storms and a reduction in extreme temperatures
    Marching is inherently political ( being part of a polity ). That’s fine – it’s part of our evolutionary behavior ( so march for socio-biology ). But part of the science-politics interface, on all sides, seems to be the confirmation bias of claiming the supporting science and denying the contradicting science.

  4. russellseitz says:

    There are better diversified crowds among whom to signal the virtues of science”

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/04/why-couldnt-they-sync-it-with-maryland.html

  5. John Hartz says:

    TE:

    Science is science.

    Contradicting science is pseudo-science poppycock. .

  6. John Hartz says:

    More details about the Marches…

    The March for Science is not a partisan event. But it’s political. That’s the recurring message of the organizers, who insist that this is a line the scientific community and its supporters will be able to walk. It may prove too delicate a distinction, though, when people show up in droves on Saturday with their signs and their passions.

    “We’ve been asked not to make personal attacks or partisan attacks,” said honorary national co-chair Lydia Villa-Komaroff, in a teleconference this week with reporters. But Villa-Komaroff, who will be among those given two-minute speaking slots, quickly added: “This is a group of people who don’t take well being told what to do.”

    The Science March, held on Earth Day, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the Mall, and satellite marches have been planned in more than 400 cities on six continents. The crowd will gather on Saturday near the Washington Monument for five hours of speeches and teach-ins, culminating in the march at 2 p.m. The march will follow Constitution Avenue along the north edge of the Mall to the foot of Capitol Hill.

    Protest marches may be common in Washington these days, but one centered on the value of science is unprecedented. The march is part of a wave of activism in the scientific community. Scientists are jumping into the political fray by running for public office — such as in southern California, where geologist Jess Phoenix, a Democrat, has announced her candidacy for a congressional seat held by a Republican.

    Why scientists are marching on Washington and more than 400 other cities by Joel Achenbach, Ben Guarino & Sarah Kaplan, Speaking of Science, Washington Post, April 21, 2017

  7. Steven,
    That is very unfortunate news. I hope there is a good response. I’ve RT’d Zeke’s tweet.

  8. verytallguy says:

    Steven,

    Get well soon to Robert.

    Happily, in the UK at least, such appeals are rare.

    The NHS was created out of the ideal that good healthcare should be available to all, regardless of wealth. When it was launched by the then minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on July 5 1948, it was based on three core principles:
    that it meet the needs of everyone
    that it be free at the point of delivery
    that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay
    These three principles have guided the development of the NHS over more than 60 years and remain at its core.

  9. ATTP, you are quite understated in the way your describe the reason for the march(es). I think there are much stonger reasons than simply wanting an informed society. There has been a drip drip of undermining of evidence based policy. On climate, whereas it was a republican administration that initiatiated research on this, now the subject is polarized. In the UK we have talk of ‘being sick of experts’, and popullists being cosy with with anti-vaxxers. If this was just a few cranks being exposed for bending spoons, no one would march, but we have had serious drops in immunization rates that have undermined herd immunity, so the championing of rubbish/ antiscience has had, and is having, consequences. Now we have defunding of major programmes and unique bodies of work. It has now happened with Harper in Canada, with climate research in Australia, and now the EPA in the USA. This is serious stuff. BUT, the Marches today (it is now past midnight in UK) should also be a celebration:
    – of then 100s of millions saved from deadly diseases by vaccination
    – the knowledge of DNA that underpins natural selection
    – understanding our origins in the stars – yes, we are stardust
    – the beauty of symmetry in nature
    – the silicon revolution that now has brought us a digital one
    … so many wonders.
    We’ll need so many more that STEM will bring to meet the challenges we face from climate change, drug resistance, and so much more.
    Worth reminding ourselves why science is so important to us.
    And why we need experts now, more than ever.

  10. 19th century Liberalism, in contrast with the different movement of the same name born in the early-to-mid 20th century, was the stuff of Florence Nightingale and others, who saw the advance in knowledge which the Sciences represented, kickstarted by the great thinkers of the 18th century, and wanted to apply it to the betterment of people and civilization. They began with applications to medicine, to education, and created new businesses, like insuring people — rather than just products and their transport, as the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company did.

    And they succeeded … Many of the successes and, more importantly, the “Can do, fix it” attitude which launched the 20th century came from this mindset. Note the temperament of the 1887 World’s Fair. This was a world that believed observation and evidence, hypothesis, calculation, theory, and testing could be used to improve not only business, but humankind’s lot.

    It was not until the world wars that big business and big government realized the importance of big science, and chose to fund it — and in doing so, in the end, controlled it. There were great things accomplished with great funds, but these depended and depend upon a willing partner in that exploration, not a malicious one.

    I am marching tomorrow to support Science, whether Oceanography, Astronomy, Planetary Exploration, Astrophysics, or Ecology and Physics, as well as Mathematics, but also to testify publicly to the key importance of this mindset and approach to modern economic success.

    What’s incredible to me is to the degree to which the greater public ignores and fails to appreciate the deep connections between fundamental comforts and modern trinkets they have — computers and smart phones, for instance — and the continuing need for innovation at the scientific frontiers. Somehow science and technology have become Hogwarts’ style magic to them, and anyone who does it “a genius.” Poppycock.

    So, I hope it will be noticed by the public. I don’t have great ambitions that tomorrow’s testimony will translate into action. I hope people in business and government realize when they see it that the next time they want a new product or innovation or idea — or weapon — where it comes from.

    Knowledge is Power.

  11. My condolences to Robert Rohde and his family. It’s a sad state of affairs in the USA that healthcare bills are still the #1 cause of bankruptcy. I had cancer surgery Dec. 30th. My nose and a portion of my upper lip had to be removed. While insurance covered the majority of expenses we lost 5 months of my income and have $25k in bills outstanding. Frankly, now it’s just a matter of time before we’re destitute.

    Of course Republicans want to make it even worse and the country has endorsed their candidates over and over again. You have to laugh or you’d cry.

  12. Susan Anderson says:

    I’m having some trouble with people outside the US, with the best possible intentions, thinking they know what’s going on here and how to fix it. I’m going to a local Boston event tomorrow, and despite the confusion involved and the bigger climate march next week (the 29th), there’s a lot of pizzazz to it, just being part of a community that is fed up with attacks on science and feels like sticking up for each other. Of course, Boston (greater Boston includes Cambridge, MIT, Harvard, and scads of research and schools – even three music schools) is pretty special. I’m copying this poem (hope there’s no copyright issue)

    “Jane Hirshfield is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her most recent collection is “The Beauty.” She will read this poem from the stage at the March for Science on April 22.”

    On the fifth day
    the scientists who studied the rivers
    were forbidden to speak
    or to study the rivers.
     
    The scientists who studied the air
    were told not to speak of the air,
    and the ones who worked for the farmers
    were silenced,
    and the ones who worked for the bees.
     
    Someone, from deep in the Badlands,
    began posting facts.
     
    The facts were told not to speak
    and were taken away.
    The facts, surprised to be taken, were silent.
     
    Now it was only the rivers
    that spoke of the rivers,
    and only the wind that spoke of its bees,
     
    while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
    continued to move toward their fruit.
     
    The silence spoke loudly of silence,
    and the rivers kept speaking,
    of rivers, of boulders and air.
     
    Bound to gravity, earless and tongueless,
    the untested rivers kept speaking.
     
    Bus drivers, shelf stockers,
    code writers, machinists, accountants,
    lab techs, cellists kept speaking.
     
    They spoke, the fifth day,
    of silence.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/04/14/on-the-fifth-day/

  13. Susan Anderson says:

    I was looking for a little relief from a personal heartache of sorts (long story, not here) and found that. The backstory is good too. This crisis does seem to be bringing out some unusual actors.

    I hope this provides a different view, for a moment, from all this. I guess you might say, in the words of Dylan:

    “He not busy being born is busy dying”

    The poet Jane Hirshfield has never thought of herself as an agitator. A self-described “genuine introvert,” Ms. Hirshfield likes to spend her days gardening, hiking and writing verses about nature, impermanence and interconnectedness.

    But a couple of months ago, to her own surprise, she emailed the organizers of the March for Science in Washington and urged them to make poetry part of the protest. At the rally on Saturday, Ms Hirshfield will read her new poem “On the Fifth Day,” which addresses climate change denial and the Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations.

    “I’ve never done anything like that before,” Ms. Hirshfield said. “I don’t even give dinner parties.”

    The march will also feature pop-up poetry writing workshops, and more than 20 banners with science poems by Gary Snyder, W .S. Merwin, Tracy K. Smith and others. (Ms. Hirshfield also wanted to have a donkey carrying baskets with printed-out poems, but the organizers rejected that idea).

    “Poems are visible right now, which is terribly ironic, because you rather wish it weren’t so necessary,” she said. “When poetry is a backwater it means times are O.K. When times are dire, that’s exactly when poetry is needed.”

    Like virtually everything else in the Trump era, poetry has gotten sharply political these days. Writers are responding to this turbulent moment in the country’s history with a tsunami of poems that address issues like immigration, global warming, the Syrian refugee crisis, institutionalized racism, equal rights for transgender people, Islamophobia and health care.

    The recent resurgence of protest poems reflects a new strain of contemporary American poetry, one that is deeply engaged with public policy and the latest executive orders coming from the White House. At a moment when many artists and writers have joined a diffuse resistance movement on the left, a vocal and mobilized group of poets are using their work to wrestle with some of the most pressing issues in American culture and politics.

    “This isn’t just confessional poetry, but poetry that’s meant to stir us into action,” said Jeff Shotts, executive editor of Graywolf Press.

  14. Susan Anderson says:

    The picture was an unintended freebie, have mixed feelings about that … but what a nice cross section of people!

  15. John Hartz says:

    Susan Anderson: Thank you for the very touching posts.

  16. John Hartz says:

    The concluding paragraph of a very thought-provoking article about science and politics in the US…

    The march organizers imagine a future world in which science promotes equality and justice, rather than simply wealth and health for the few. Evidence-based policy is important, and science should certainly play a role in politics. Yet more and better data is hardly enough to ensure equality and justice. Societies employ science in accordance with their leading values, interests, and power structures. If March for Science participants want science to advance the causes of equality and justice, they will need to help create a society in which those values predominate.

    How the March for Science Misunderstands Politics

    If protesters want to change policies, they need to target the values, interests, and power structures that shape how research is applied.

    by Andrew Jewitt, The Atlantic, Apr 22, 2017

    Andrew Jewett is an associate professor of history and of social studies at Harvard and the author of “Science, Democracy, and the American University: From the Civil War to the Cold War.”

  17. angech says:

    A march to protest against cuts to science budgets when the countries coffers are full is one thing. Worthy of support.
    A march when the coffers are bare? Understandable and still right for the scientist, if not for the country.
    A march to protest against Trump and his policies, go right ahead.
    Put them together though and you just have politics, worse bad natured politics, which is of no benefit to science and should not have scientists associated with it.

    On an aside I became a labour [Democrat like] supporter in Australia 43 years ago because of the problem oneillsinwisconsin has identified. I saw a lot of people who took the choice not to take out very expensive private medical cover. Loss of income for months and a huge hospital bill bankrupted people and was partly responsible for the extension of universal medical cover to Australians.
    I have obviously become a lot more liberal [Republican like] in recent years.
    The problems with the American Medical system are not of Trump’s doing, not yet anyway.
    The problems are deeply ingrained and some Trump policies may actually help. Ie America wide health insurance companies. Lower cost medications and treatments.
    Perhaps a Government disaster fund limited to cases like the ones above with clear loss of income for months from people who have been in work a long time.
    Lawyers and rorting remain massive problems for any action in this area.

  18. Y’know, I’m kind of sick and tired of social scientists — including Naomi Oreskes and John Cook — telling scientists how they should speak to connect to their audience. Science and associated methods are hard enough to do, and to teach to the generation that follows. I know science and other funding depend upon public support, but the diminishment of that funding is a steady arc downwards which began in the late 1980s, not just recently.

    There’s a two way street here: It isn’t about scientists convincing the public they are worthy of being heard, it is a very religious style of WITNESS which the March entails. If the public chooses to look the other way, and disregard, they are deliberating embracing the consequences of their choice.

    If in fact science funding is cut back, then, inevitably, there will be consequences, even if there will be a lag before these are felt. Those consequences will be ultimately a loss in economic viability, and in moving of R&D centers to countries which do not have this tentative appreciation for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics. And it will inevitably mean a big lowering of standard of living for most people in the United States, including the very rich, as well as losing wars.

    But, y’know, this is a representative democracy, and the people’s choice is what matters. Even if it is a choice to reap the consequences of being goobers.

    So, march, I say, and then let’s go back and do the best Science and Engineering, and Maths we can. And if the funding is cut, we’ll still do it, but not as big, and not as great, but we’ll still do it. And the people who previously paid for it won’t own it. And we can give it to whoever we want, whenever we want.

    Scientists, engineers, and mathematicians might want to think about boycotting sources of funding in the same way some did when they chose not to accept defense funding in the early 1970s.

  19. oneillsinwisconsin,
    Sorry to hear your news too. Hope it all works out well.

  20. Richard,

    ATTP, you are quite understated in the way your describe the reason for the march(es).

    Yes, quite possibly 😉

    hyper,

    Y’know, I’m kind of sick and tired of social scientists — including Naomi Oreskes and John Cook — telling scientists how they should speak to connect to their audience.

    I think a lot of what they present is interesting and worth considering. My issue is when I read things claiming that scientists don’t understand how to communicate. My own view is that there is a difference between science communication and, what I will call, science advocacy. If I’m a scientist communicating with the public, it’s not my job to try and convince them of something; I’m simply communicating. Whether or not the public should be convinced is not for scientists to decide. Of course, individual scientists can choose to undertake advocacy if they wish, but collectively it’s not their responsibility to convince the public/policy makers. Continually blaming scientists for not communicating effectively is, to me, missing the point that it’s not their role to communicate in a way that will convince.

  21. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: You state:

    Continually blaming scientists for not communicating effectively is, to me, missing the point that it’s not their role to communicate in a way that will convince.

    If you really believe that, you would not have created this website and all that goes with it.

  22. John Hartz says:

    Concerned individuals, not just scientists, are struggling to effectively communicate the realities of manmade climate change to the general public. For example, in the US…

    Many evangelical Christians believe that stewardship of the Earth and taking care of the poor and sick are core to their faith.

    Yet roughly 8 in 10 voted for Donald Trump, who as president has proposed cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the National Institutes of Health by 18.3 percent and isn’t sure if he wants the United States to participate in the Paris climate change accord.

    That politics-science-faith disconnect is one of many threads running through the March for Science events to take place Saturday in more than 500 cities around the world, including San Francisco, San Jose and Livermore, with the main event in Washington, D.C. Organizers say 13,500 people have signed up to attend the San Francisco march and science fair, while an additional 17,000 have expressed interest in attending through social media channels.

    The rallies are intended to be “political but not partisan,” said Kristen Ratan, the lead organizer for the San Francisco march. The goal of Saturday’s events is to highlight concerns that “science is not being supported,” said Ratan, who added that cuts to the NIH jeopardize “research on cancer, diabetes and childhood diseases.” If federal funding is cut, Ratan said, critical research could be lost.

    “It is one of the alarm bells that are ringing,” she said.

    Evangelical leaders find climate change message a tough sell by Joe Garofoli, San Francisco Chronicle, Apr 20, 2017

  23. Roger Jones says:

    hg, i feel you have verballed both Cook and Oreskes.

    I also reject your second para wholeheartedly as someone who does both (or maybe all three) – communication and discovery and advocacy (when it’s needed).

    I was at the Melbourne march today and they said all you wanted. Maybe you want to regroup and rethink.

    A thought. If governments cut back basic research, and it seems as if your response is suck it up and go back to your benches and work just as hard. Or harder.

    Do you release there are risks and positions here that can’t be recovered from? These policies will result in injury and death that otherwise would not have occurred?

  24. I don’t know what “verballed” means. I waded through all of Oreskes tome. I took Cook’s course. I advocate and study and calculate and lobby. And I write, mostly at my blog, and I do that mostly to have a convenient place to put documentation of things I’ve worked through for easy reference. I know it does help others, including a teacher who uses it as a source for an environmental science class.

    Despite all this, there are limits to lobbying and appealing to the public. You talk about choices resulting “in injury and death that otherwise would not have occurred.” The American public, and probably others, makes choices like that all the time, with respect to cars, guns, and development, and they don’t care about injury and death to others and to fellow creatures. Some do, but many don’t. And they don’t like to be told about it. I don’t expect them to change on this point, if they don’t for others.

    Sure, scientists and technologists can try to teach, to point out, as has been done for 60 years. But to have it put on our shoulders that we’ve failed because we’ve done a piss poor job … I don’t buy that, not any more.

  25. John Hartz says:

    hypergeometric: You state:

    But to have it put on our shoulders that we’ve failed because we’ve done a piss poor job … I don’t buy that, not any more.

    Please provide specific examples of such claims.

  26. JH,
    This, for example.

    If you really believe that, you would not have created this website and all that goes with it.

    I think it’s important for scientists to communicate and that they (mostly) have an obligation to do so. I also think that scientists should (again, mostly) speak out when society is being influence by misinformation and do their best to correct this misinformation. However, I also think it’s ultimately not their responsibility to try and convince the public; they are not marketing experts and – in my view – should not aim to become ones. If there is deemed a need to actually convince the public to accept some position, then the decision to do so should come from those who represent us – it can’t come from scientists. Also, if we look back and realise that we made poor decisions because we’ve accepted misinformation, we should not – in my view – blame scientists for not having done a better job.

  27. Pingback: A day of activism … sort of | …and Then There's Physics

  28. Francis says:

    As an interested outsider, my own position is that “You need to do a better job” arguments leave me flat. “I need to do a better job” or “I call on my fellow [scientists / attorneys / politicians] do get more engaged on this issue” are far more persuasive to me.

    The first is just making an uncompensated demand on other peoples’ time and energy. The second is a call to action.

  29. John Hartz says:

    ATTP: Given that manmade climate change poses an existentional threat to the human race, I believe we have to throw the standard playbook out the window.

    In addition, we have been and will continue to confront a well-oiled propaganda machine created and maintained by the fossil fuel industry. The Climate Propaganda War cannot be done if experts hole up in their ivory towers.

  30. Francis,
    There are some very good social scientists who are looking at science communication (I’ve worked with, and published with, some). My issue is with those who claim that scientists have failed (or don’t understand something obvious), especially if it appears that they haven’t clearly understood what scientists might be trying to achieve (and don’t always properly define what they themselves are suggesting). Also, if there are some who believe that they know best how to communicate in a way that will be convincing, why is it that many scientists remain unconvinced?

  31. JCH says:

    Just got back from shopping for toilet paper at 7th Street Target. Stumbled upon the march. I was shocked. Texas is a red state, and Tarrant County is probably the only big population county in Texas that is solidly red. Harris, Dallas, Travis, and Bexar counties have sizable blue components. And, Fort Worth is not what I would consider to be a science hub for much other than fracking… I expected a few dozen people at most.

    The march extended for several blocks… I would think easily a thousand very enthusiastic people, and possible more.

  32. Mal Adapted says:

    John Hartz:

    ATTP: Given that manmade climate change poses an existentional threat to the human race, I believe we have to throw the standard playbook out the window.

    I’m convinced AGW is an existential threat to many components of the Biosphere, including yours truly. I don’t flatter myself, however, that I alone can turn the unsustainable course Homo sapiens has been on since the invention of agriculture. I marched for Science today, and I’m compelled to advocate for Carbon Fee and Dividend at every opportunity, but I’m not going to judge myself uniquely guilty for the consequences of the inevitable 2+ degrees C of warming. I’m with hypergeometric:

    But to have it put on our shoulders that we’ve failed because we’ve done a piss poor job … I don’t buy that, not any more.

    Every single member of our species has agency; to take the entire weight of the world on one’s own shoulders is simply grandiose, and to ask it of anyone else is unjust. If the worst-case AGW scenario comes to pass, it will not be the fault of scientists for failing to communicate effectively.

  33. John Hartz says:

    Mal Adapted: You wrote:

    Every single member of our species has agency; to take the entire weight of the world on one’s own shoulders is simply grandiose, and to ask it of anyone else is unjust. If the worst-case AGW scenario comes to pass, it will not be the fault of scientists for failing to communicate effectively.

    I completely and whoeheartedly agree. This discussion started because I asked hypergeometric to provide examples of people who have laid the blame for humanity’s inability to collectively mitigate manmade climate change soley on the shoulders of climate scientists. I do not recall ever seeing such a statement during the 15 years that I have immersed myself into this topic.

    The bootom-line for me is that everyone, scientists and non-scientsts alike, needs to up their game if we are to stand a chance of avoiding self-extinction.

  34. John Hartz says:

    ATTP:

    I check your Requarth and raise you a Mooney…

    Historians say the March for Science is ‘pretty unprecedented’ by Chris Mooney, Energy & Environment, Washington Post, Apr 22, 2017

  35. John Hartz says:

    Another food-for-thought article about the March in the context of US politics….

    March for Science or March for Reality? by Lawrence M. Krauss, Scientific American, April 20, 2017

    The concluding paragraphs…

    By providing such a constant and sharp explicit and observable contrast between policy and empirical reality, the Trump administration can encourage a new public skepticism about political assertions vs. reality, and a demand for evidence before endorsing policies and the politicians who espouse them—the very things that most marchers on April 22nd will be demanding. This skepticism is beginning to manifest itself in data. A Gallup poll result on April 17 indicated that only 45 percent of the public believe President Trump’s promises, a drop of 17 percent since February.

    In this regard, it is worth remembering the words of the Nobel Prizewinning physicist, Richard Feynman, who said: For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. Or, as the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick more colorfully put it: Reality is that which continues to exist even when you stop believing in it.

    The Trump Administration is discovering that obfuscation, denial, and hype may work when selling real estate, but in public arena eventually reality has a way of biting you in the butt. And the public is watching. The March for Science may be lucky to capitalize upon a growing awareness that there is no Wizard behind the curtain. The number of marchers, their backgrounds, or even their myriad messages may not drive the success of the March. Rather, it may be driven by the harsh examples coming out every day that reality exists independent of the desires or claims of those in power. In this case, the greatest asset the March for Science has going for it may be Donald Trump himself.

  36. The question, too, is how much of doing science is a scientist willing to give up to work towards educating a general public about an understanding of, say, Physics which a first Physics course in college provides, or even an advanced high school class? This is both a practical calculation and a personal one. People do Science (or Maths or, as in my case, Stats) because they have a passion for it.

    I’m not complaining, because it was my choice, but I’ve allocated most of the time I would have used for doing really fun work in stats over the last 3 years trying to get engaged in policy, mostly about emissions and energy in Massachusetts, and working with groups advocating, marches, lobbying, and all the learning to be able to support this. And, y’know what? While I was influential, the progress made could have been done without me. And you know what else? The political progressives are, to my mind, as big of a problem as the repressed Republican Tea Party-or-whatever-they-call-themselves-today wing. Progressives will march on a building of a natural pipeline. Great. But they won’t dare advocate a boycott of natural gas for new construction, or of oil. Why? They want to continue to have a seat at the political table in order to be able to negotiate. And advocating a natural gas boycott is seen as over the line. As is a tax on gasoline. As is any tax. As is arguing for people on coasts to bear more of the full share of risk for owning homes there.

    I would contribute more if I did my Stats. Which is what I am planning to do.

  37. @John Hartz, if it is, then I would argue we need to begin to work really hard to bring down the cost of clear air capture of CO2. The best process I have seen is Klaus Lackner’s scheme, which, among others, Wally Broecker supports. But that’s still at US$300 per tonne CO2, at best. (And see my heavily revised update of that prompted by comments by climate scientist Dr Glen Peters.)

    I had been hoping that the sheer scale of the engineering and cost for doing clear air capture would move people to mitigate emissions, notably because we cannot sensibly do clear air capture without bringing emissions to zero first, but, no, planners, and the public, and corporations are simply not that forward thinking, as I have found engaging.

    And, so, I reluctantly agree with Professor Broecker and I think anyone who thinks otherwise seriously misreads the human character. Daniel Kahneman thinks so, too.

  38. @John Hartz Oops …. I neglected to properly link in Professor Lackner’s work.

  39. John Hartz says:

    hypergeometric: Thanks for the links, I now have a better understanding of where you are coming from. We’re good. Peace.

  40. John Hartz says:

    Getting back to basics…

    Communication requires a sender and a receiver. Most of the discussion on this thread is about the effectives of the sender, i.e., scientists. Given the complexity of climate science, the receivers must have basic understanding of physics, chemistry, and math in order to process the information being transmitted to them. Such basic understandings are typically acquired through a quality high school and college education. Unfortunately, the general population of the US includes a large segment of adults who do not have such an educational foundation. This is why, in my opinion, the pseudo-science propaganda coming out of the Climate Science Denial Spin Machine is so hard to compete with when attempting to communicate climate science with this segment of the population.

  41. russellseitz says:

    Perhaps John Hartz can summon enough authentic doubt to prevail upon Naomi and Conway to actually read through the megapages of the Tobacco archive ,and dig though the Rockefeller University’s archives to provide us with some actual primary source quotations for what appears in both their books and the films that fail to question thier scholarly apparatus and their time line alike ?

  42. John Hartz says:

    Russell: I’ll get on that as soon as I get back from the clonning spa. 🙂

    Recommend that you pursue the matter with John Mashey.

  43. John Hartz says:

    Speaking of back to basics…

    Science seems to be under attack in America, so much so that scientists and their supporters are marching in the streets.

    President Donald Trump has publicly called climate change a Chinese hoax abetted by greedy scientists. He has linked vaccines to autism despite overwhelming scientific consensus against these claims. Vice President Mike Pence has denied evolutionary science, the very foundation of modern biology. Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s pick for director of the Office of Management and Budget, has questioned the fully established link between Zika virus and microcephaly and wondered whether “we really need government-funded research at all.”

    In response, scientists are taking a stand. They are defending their work against what appears to be a new, more aggressive assault in the so-called “Republican war on science,” as the president threatens deep cuts to federal funding of scientific research.

    When they march for science, they will do well to consider insights from the field of study known as the “rhetoric of science.”

    Defending science: How the art of rhetoric can help by Leah Ceccarelli, The Conversation US, Apr 20. 2017

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