Janet has a very interesting post over at Adventures in Ethics, springboarding off Chris Mooney & Sheril Kirshenbaum’s new book Unscientific America. She discusses a key concept that seems obvious, but constantly ends up being ignored by both pro-science and anti-science factions: scientists are not a monolithic interest group. (For one thing, we disagree about how and when to approach the public, and how conciliatory to be).

Janet says,

I think it’s fair to say that scientists and other members of Team Science are not in total agreement about which segments of the public can be reconciled to science. This, plus the fact that individual scientists have many interests and goals that are their own, agendas not necessarily set by Team Science, means that in their various communicative activities, whether in person, in print, or on the blogosphere, scientists will not display the “message discipline” you might expect from a political campaign.

Janet is okay with that. I’m also okay with that. Expecting otherwise would be to expect scientists to be something other than human beings. But it does pose problems for organized campaigns by scientists to educate, engage, or win the support of an equally if not more heterogeneous public.

Whether or not you’ve read Unscientific America yet, you should really consider checking out Janet’s series of comprehensive posts on the themes raised by the book. They’re excellent posts.


  1. #1 Epistaxis
    July 18, 2009

    FYI, the word is “heterogeneous,” and that’s how it’s pronounced too.

  2. #2 Jessica Palmer
    July 18, 2009

    Thanks for catching the typo in the title.

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