Scientists Connection With The Public On Research

When a scientist goes to work doing scientific research for a living, there is a tendency at times to take public support for granted, believing their work is justified on grounds for its own sake.  There have been articles written that are warning scientists and scientific institutions to re-think their presumed authority. Mistakes and surprises are partly responsible for the given warning to scientists on their understanding of nature, and the universe in general.

The public invests a lot of their hard-earned money and in turn they expect results. Often times scientists are back peddling on previously well established theories. For example, the “Crab Nebula has shocked astronomers by emitting an unprecedented blast of gamma rays, the highest-energy light in the Universe” says the BBC. It defies any explanation known to man which has worked on studying it for many years.

Exploration of Saturn’s moons like Enceladus with its geysers and Titan with its lack of an ethane ocean, contradicted previously long-held established predictions. They continue to work on various explanations for their evolutionary story to fill in the falsifications but nothing established yet.  In physorg, astronomers the past few years haven been observing planets orbiting the wrong way! The significance of this particular falsification when it comes to evolutionary thinking, it “obviously violates our most basic picture of planet and star formation.”

Then there is creating a story using a lot of imagination to fill in gaps in evolutionary thinking because the  evidence doesn’t point to it. For example, New Scientist reports, “Horsetail fossil tells tale of plant evolution.” But does it? When the reader looks for the evidence to start telling this tale, there is none to be found anywhere! The article does in fact talk about a fossilized horsetail that must have been preserved in a hot spring environment but goes on to say it looks modern. Channing’s work now “clears up” the story about evolution in this matter, claiming there was innovations conducted by natural selection the article suggests. But does it?

Channing’s study pushes the origin of modern-looking horsetails back another 14 million years, to 150 million years before the present. Then claiming this plant had suddenly popped into existence 150 million years ago (stuff happens theory in evolution) and never dreamt up any new innovations all the way to the present except, if anything, the older ones were bigger and better!

Like New Scientist’s article, studies on evolution are among the worst who take on the label of “scientist” but provide no return on investment to society – in fact, who do much to misuse and harm society while bragging about their status as scientists. When it comes to a  PhD, it confers no more authority on a scientist than a real estate license does on a realtor; it depends on what the individual person does with the skills and learning they acquired.

Look at the good work being done by citizen scientists! Better a field amateur with years of observations than an armchair professor pontificating from his PhD microphone! This in no way is intended to insult many honorable scientists working out there using their position for the good of mankind, doing honest work each day, and providing society with a good return on the public’s investment.

However, let me make this clear! Professional scientists need to realize, they must earn their wings each day.  Not everything they do is scientific, and not everything a non-scientist does is unscientific.  A scientist speaking outside his or her area of knowledge can have opinions no better than those of anyone! One of the solutions to this problem with scientists lack of connection with the public is the media. The media needs to practice “critical thinking” in its articles rather than hype up everything that comes out as though it were gospel. Also, scientists ought to serve society not preach to it!

3 thoughts on “Scientists Connection With The Public On Research

  1. When a scientist goes to work doing scientific research for a living, there is a tendency at times to take public support for granted, believing their work is justified on grounds for its own sake.

    One might ask Michael how he knows this? “Articles” say they “presume authority”?

    From almost half a century of daily dealings with research scientists in many different fields, I qualify to tell Michael he has not the slightest idea whereof he speaks. He wouldn’t recognize a scientist if he tripped over one.

    Of course scientists think what they do is important. Michael might try spending 25 years in school preparing for a vocation that he thinks is meaningless. On the other hand, a recent article in science bemoans the fact that scientists, especially recently, must spend more than half their time communicating with others to obtain support for their work.

    One of the solutions to this problem with scientists lack of connection with the public is the media… . Also, scientists ought to serve society not preach to it!

    Once again, Michael confuses science with religion. Religion preaches—exhorts its hearers to live a certain way, follow certain rules, believe certain things. Scientists tell people what they have discovered. Michael feels that this constitutes “preaching,:”. apparently because he disagrees with what they keep discovering.

    Of course, creationists never discover anything. And never have discovered anything, and thus have nothing to communicate. So we might suspect Michael of pure jealousy.

  2. Michael bookends this post with a pair of paragraphs that at least loosely pertain to the stat4d subject of his post—that scientists should communicate to the public more..

    All of the stuffing in the middle, however, is the same old horse puckey about how scientists are always incorrect.

    So, Michael, if scientific results are so wrong, why should scientists communicate them better?

    If Michael could think all the way through the things he says, we might not laugh so hard.

  3. . . . . . . . Scientists Connection With The Public On Research</strong

    We do need better communication, but there is a prerequisite. You can’t speak Tagalog to an English-only audience and call it “communication.”

    Before scientists can communicate, the general public must understand more about science–not just the technical content, but how science works, in general. At present, they do not. Michael may be an egregious example of thick-headed ignorance, but the level of understanding among the public is embarrassingly low.

    One might respond, well, the US keeps on leading in scientific fields. Three observations:
    (a) We’re not leading now as much as we used to. The ratio of peer-reviewed papers by US authors has fallen significantly.
    (b) More and more of our leading scientists are foreign-born. Even the US youth who win competitions are more likely o be named Chadha or Wang than Anderson or Smith. And more and more foreign grad students are leaving the US after finishing school.
    (c) Scientific talent is polarizing. Just as the US is squeezing out the economic middle class in favor of a few very rich people and large numbers of poor, our education system is producing a few exceptional scientists and giving up on the rest. There is no longer a “middle class” of science/math student.

    Without better public education in science, no one can hope to communicate science. It’s your fault too, Michael.

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