After ClimateGate, scientists are asking how to fix their image.
While Erin Biba in Wired blithely suggests better PR, Kenneth P. Green and Hiwa Alaghebandian at The American looks for the cause of our mistrust . They blame the authoritarian tone that they convincingly show has been adopted in scientific reporting since the late 1980s.
If science wants to redeem itself and regain its place with the publics affection, scientists need to come out every time some politician says, The science says we must . . . and reply, Science only tells us what is. It does not, and can never tell us what we should or must do. If they say that often enough, and loudly enough, they might be able to reclaim the mantle of objectivity that theyve given up over the last forty years by letting themselves become the regulatory states ultimate appeal to authority.
It seems to me that boiling down policy statements from nuanced scientific research undermines both the work of good scientists and our faith in their project. If we are simply told what to do, or if scientists become just another form of late night infomercial experts, then our capability of choosing well, our most important privilege, is damaged. And of course, no one likes being told what to do.
Well, do you trust scientists? If you dont, how can they regain your trust?