[ASC-list] Trustworthiness of Science Communicators (was: Where's ASC headed ...)

Charles Willock charlesw at cse.unsw.EDU.AU
Fri Nov 15 08:45:01 UTC 2013

Hi All,

    Each year Reader's Digest publish a list of roles we deal
    with in our lives and rank them on the issue of trustedness.
    This year they are ranked on a range of 1 (jointly firemen and
    paramedics) to 50 (Door-to-door salespeople).  Looking at a
    couple of previous years the rankings seem to have fairly stable
    Politicians are ranked at 49 on the scale of 50 just one above
    Door-to-door salespeople.  Psychics are no longer on the list.
    For 2013, scientists are ranked at position 12 out of 50, three
    below Veterinarians (some of whom will offer, on payment/command,
    euthanasia for your unwell pet) and just one above Armed Forces
    Personnel (some of whom will offer involuntary euthanasia for
    people who might be quite well, on command, to those who 
    politicians perceive to be ideologically on the other side) ... 
    (or not).
    According to the list, journalists, at position 43 out of 50, are
    in the company of CEOs (41) - above sex workers and call-centre
    staff - but are ranked three below Tow-truck drivers, and 6 below
    Does this information reflect in any way on our current
    discussion about ethics, perspectives and/or the future we see
    for ASC-Media?
       o.  Do ASC members identify with the journalism stream or the
           scientist stream - or are we something different again?  

           Are communicators of science different from
           journalists?  Or are communicating scientists more to
           be trusted than those who are less communicative?
       o.  Is the Reader's Digest list / implementation "just nonsense"
           (some people differ in their reaction to RD's ideology).
       o.  Why isn't science at number 1?  We give scientists a lot 
           of money and quite a bit of freedom on what to investigate 
           ... Can't scientists be trusted completely?  Does being
           communicative have an opposite effect - of making us seem
           less trustworthy?
       o.  Why aren't journalists much higher on the list?  (Journalism
           courses at Universities must wonder about this ...)  Are we
           associating too much with CEOs?
       o.  Do the positions on the table indicate something fundamental
           about the behaviour of these groups ... or are they more
           an indication that the public "don't understand" or that 
           they "got it wrong"?
       o.  Should our code of ethics reflect a need to significantly
           improve our trustworthiness level?

      "Creativity and innovation are measured not by what is done, 
           but by what could have been done ... but wasn't"

Disclaimer: http://www.eng.unsw.edu.au/emaildis.htm
Charles Willock                                 charlesw at cse.unsw.edu.au
c/- School of Computer Science and Engineering       
University of New South Wales,                  
New South Wales  Australia  2052    http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~charlesw

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