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Author Topic: Gavin Schmidt … Speaking up and speaking out  (Read 2651 times)

TeaPotty

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Gavin Schmidt … Speaking up and speaking out
« on: December 15, 2013, 03:53:02 AM »
Gavin Schmidt … Speaking up and speaking out
http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2013/12/agu13-gavin-schmidt-speaking-up-and-speaking-out/

Bravo to Gavin Schmidt for speaking out, and being so spot on:

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Climate researcher and blogger Gavin Schmidt offers scientists an alternative to ‘saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing’. What are the ‘rules’ of engagement and why?

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Whether or not scientists should speak out on policy matters related to their fields continues to be controversial... Why is that?

Part of the answer, Schmidt said, is that scientists fear that advocating for a policy — related to climate change, for example — is a threat to the public perception of their objectivity. The truth is, everyone comes to the table with their own perspectives, and scientific advocacy at its simplest is an argument for what we should do in the face of scientific facts, Schmidt said.

In today’s political and cultural climate, science gets politicized when scientific results appear to impact a vested political, ethical or moral interest, Schmidt said. (I would add to this short list: “economic.”)

In that respect, scientific results are regarded in the public realm only to the extent that they project onto some political, ethical, moral — and economic — question.

...It’s important for people who know things not to give up the public sphere to people who don’t know things.

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Scientists who choose to communicate widely cannot avoid advocacy, Schmidt said. “You can’t be a science communicator and pretend you have no values. What instead you need to do is accept them.” If scientists don’t, people will choose for them what values they hold, he said. “You’re much better off owning that, and telling people what you’re advocating for.”

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More and more scientists are “sticking their heads above the parapet,” and the people taking potshots at them are not as numerous as scientists might think.

For scientists to sustain a credible and effective presence in the public sphere, they must, above all, be honest — to their science and to their values.

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During his talk, he flashed a great quote on the screen, which sums up much of the talk: “To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” — Aristotle

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What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 03:58:31 AM by TeaPotty »

TeaPotty

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TeaPotty

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Re: Gavin Schmidt … Speaking up and speaking out
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2013, 05:44:43 AM »
Amazing quote from Stephen Schneider in July 1990 (used in Gavin's speech):

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"...But what makes this [climate change] an interesting problem, and 'interesting' I use somewhat sarcastically, is the only way to prove that for sure is to perform the experiment on us, and that's why you have a debate about whether to do something about it before its proved beyond doubt; And that's not an issue of Science, that's an issue of values.

...How to choose what to do in face of uncertainty is never a scientific question. Science is illucidating the possibilities and the probabilities, but how to act and how to react is your own values.

...But if you don't have any information, it's hard to know how to apply your values in more than a random way"
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 03:10:34 PM by TeaPotty »

wili

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Re: Gavin Schmidt … Speaking up and speaking out
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2013, 10:41:14 PM »
Thanks for these. I have enjoyed much of what Gavin has done at RealClimate over the years.

I especially liked the last two quotes you cited:

"What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?"

And:

"To avoid criticism, say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."