[ASC-list] Trust us, we're scientists.

Tamzin Byrne tamzin at scienceinpublic.com.au
Thu Sep 26 23:52:52 UTC 2013

I agree - all experts demand a level of trust from the rest of us.

But we also expect that journalism, politicians and others will have skills (or skilled advisors) to help them evaluate those expert claims.

The bigger problem I think is that while it's assumed that an educated person will have a basic grounding in law/economics/politics, there's no encouragement to develop a broad understand of science. But we still demand that people be able to critically evaluate scientific ideas.

For example, I read a profile of the author of a journalism textbook yesterday. He was asked which undergrad degrees or co-majors were useful for a journalism student. He answered: law, politics, economics, philosophy, history, literature or sociology. No mention of science.

But then the next question was about this issue of 'balance' in science reporting, and he said that a good reporter should be 'weighing the facts and the evidence' before coming down on one side of the argument. He was not at all anti-science, but he did expect that a journalism student would have the skills to analyse science without having recommended that they study it.

Link to the article at: http://ame.sagepub.com/content/22/2/237.full.pdf+html


Tamzin Byrne
Science Communicator
Science in Public

From: ASC-list [mailto:asc-list-bounces at lists.asc.asn.au] On Behalf Of Chris.Krishna-Pillay at csiro.au
Sent: Friday, 27 September 2013 9:35 AM
To: bianca at biancanogrady.com; asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au
Subject: Re: [ASC-list] Trust us, we're scientists.

I haven't read the article yet (which probably makes this correspondence either irrelevant, ironic or illustrative), but science does require a bit of faith from those not actively involved. That said, so do most professions - politicians, diplomats, hair dressers, mechanics, surgeons, journalists, chefs, etc. I guess the question is what sort of relationships and conversations should be fostered to ensure that faith is established.

I will read the article, though.

Chris KP

From: Bianca Nogrady <bianca at biancanogrady.com<mailto:bianca at biancanogrady.com>>
Date: Friday, 27 September 2013 9:26 AM
To: "asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au<mailto:asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au>" <asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au<mailto:asc-list at lists.asc.asn.au>>
Subject: [ASC-list] Trust us, we're scientists.

There's an interesting opinion piece on the ABC's The Drum today, about how science demands a level of blind trust from the general public (in contrast to medicine, which has had to become more accountable) and why this is an issue in the 'debate' over climate change:


Any thoughts?


Freelance science journalist, author and broadcaster
www.biancanogrady.com<http://www.biancanogrady.com>, 0411 420 913, Blackheath, NSW, Australia

The End: The Human Experience of Death (Random House Australia, May 2013)
www.theendbook.net<http://www.theendbook.net>, Twitter: @TheEndBook

The Sixth Wave: How to Succeed in a Resource-Limited World (Random House Australia, April 2010)
www.sixthwave.org<http://www.sixthwave.org>, Twitter @SixthWaveBook
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