The Social Responsibility of Scientists and Non-Scientists

I think it would be really good if nonscientists learned enough so they could come out and make these arguments for the scientists.  

Scientists are constantly worrying about whether they’re going to be taken seriously or not and whether they’re going to get tenure or not, and so forth.  There’s something wonderful about the way that scientists are extremely cautious.  And sometimes it’s frustrating to us nonscientists that they won’t just come out and say, this is what I believe, this matters, pay attention. 


But, I think it makes them more trustworthy to know that they don’t do that.  To know that their science really is, to the extent that they are capable, separate from their politics.  I mean, there are some sleazy scientists out there who sell their brains to the highest bidder.  But they’re a very, very small minority.  

I would love to see more scientists come out and explain to people the really disastrous situation that could happen.  For example, if climate change is allowed to continue, but you know, it’s very important to also have accurate climate models.  And if these people come out like that and then they’re attacked for their politics, their science will be tainted and then we won’t know whether to believe their models.  So it’s it’s a difficult situation.  I think it would be really good if nonscientists learned enough so they could come out and make these arguments for the scientists.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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