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« A Truce Among Us? | Main | Returning to KVMR News »

30 March 2011


Russ Steele

George you wrote:

Their well assembled pronouncements, especially on matters of science and technology, leave the layman in a quandary on the credibility of the offered assessments and opinions.


Today, the reading public is constantly running into the cited  pronouncements of such foundations, institutions, and even academies.

I am reminded of the whole global warming issue, with computer models being used predict the temperatures in 2050 and 2100, when weather models cannot predict the weather reliably more than five days. Yet, we have "foundations, institutions, and even academies" telling us we are doomed if we do not control the emissions of CO2.

Watts Up With That has an interesting post on the communications of climate risk, but it should apply to all science that attempts of predict the future.

A major challenge facing climate scientists is explaining to non-specialists the risks and uncertainties surrounding potential” climate change, says a new Perspectives piece published today in the science journal Nature Climate Change.

The article attempts to identify communications strategies needed to improve layman understanding of climate science.

“Few citizens or political leaders understand the underlying science well enough to evaluate climate-related proposals and controversies,” the authors write, at first appearing to support the idea of specialized knowledge–that only climate scientists can understand climate research.
But, author Baruch Fischhoff quickly dispels the notion. “The goal of science communication should be to help people understand the state of the science,” he says, “relevant to the decisions that they face in their private and public lives.”

Fischhoff, a social and decision scientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Nick Pidgeon, an environmental psychologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom wrote the article together, titled, “The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks.”

As Anthony points out, it may not be the message that is the problem in this case, but the science. Interesting read.

George Rebane

Exactly so Russ. And in the case of global warming, as you may recall, my contribution to a "reasoned dialogue" was (is still?) rejected due to the firmly held belief that ALL science (i.e. the realworld) is simple enough to be explained simply. Well, it turns out that it isn't, as was found out by those who kept presenting thousands of counter arguments in the form of simple one-dimensional temperature charts, etc.

For that reason, it has become more and more clear that science and systems must be understood in their closest native formats (which includes the holistic consideration of their multi-dimensionality), or they are not understood at all.

When it comes to prediction models (global warming or catastrophes), no one will make progress unless they understand the meaning and relationship of the nested venn diagrams I presented. And also, no one will be able to provide useful predictions of a tsunami unless they understand the works of Bayes, Gott, and their intellectual descendants.

D. King

"The conclusion that I drew (actually reinforced) from these essays and the self-prestigious Edge is that their work products are too often spotty and gratuitously auto-aggrandizing. Their well assembled pronouncements, especially on matters of science and technology, leave the layman in a quandary on the credibility of the offered assessments and opinions.”

This seems to be pervasive.

Like this.

NASA finds arsenic-based life

NASA finds arsenic-based life…debunked.

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