Since I’ve raised this issue before, and it doesn’t seem to have taken, the gloves are coming off.
Once again, we see the sorry spectacle of blaming scientists for policy failures–all scientists, not a subset (consider this foreshadowing). As always the ‘scientists’ are described as bookish nerds who bore policy makers and reporters with p-values.
This is as stupid as blaming a working ob/gyn for the lobbying failures of NARAL.
Let’s take global warming and the recent Swifthack affair. Where the hell were the professional organizations that kill many, many trees in order to ask me to give them money? They were completely AWOL. I agree with Kirshenbaum that a smooth presentation attached to a nice buffet is a good way to influence staffers and reporters. So why aren’t the professional environmental organizations doing this? It’s not like this isn’t the single most important biodiversity and environmental problem of our time. They might want to reallocate some resources–resources an academic or solitary scientist can’t even dream of having. Because this is a full time job:
As someone who has worked at a non-profit whose mission included public outreach and education, it’s a full time job. Rapid response to industry propaganda is not something you can do well (or at all) part-time, or as a hobby. Yet the organizations that chop down dozens of trees annually to send me solicitations asking me to help them protect the environment and stop global warming have been completely absent (they’re certainly not being quoted in news stories). Where are the counter-ads? Where are their professionally-trained (one hopes) spokesmen going on television and radio?
(An aside: This seems to be a general problem for ‘progressive’ groups–which probably indicates something about ‘progressives.’)
I’ve always maintained that translating policy into science is part of the larger enterprise of Science. But most working scientists are neither trained to do this nor do we have the time to do so. Ideally, there were people known as science communicators. Because they would be aptly suited for this kind of thing, if they were so inclined (in fairness, many see themselves as ‘translators’ of scientific findings, and that’s science too!). Because the rest already have full-time jobs.
I do research, others do research and teaching, others primarily teach. Regardless, we’re in the game. We’re doing our part. We’re doing science. But carping on other people’s supposed failures is not doing science.
Worse, by blaming generic ‘scientists’, as opposed to specific scientists or science-based groups, Kirshenbaum simutaneously misidentifies the problem, while reinforcing negative stereotypes.
So go fucking forth and do some science.
And stop blaming the victim.