Responses to Responses to my WashPo Piece on Science and the Public

By Chris Mooney | June 28, 2010 7:46 am

Update: Just learned the American Academy paper will be available for download at this link tomorrow. But don’t go now, it just gives an error message….

Well, the piece yesterday prompted a lot of commentary on the blogs, on Facebook, on the Post website (214 last time I checked), and through emails directly to me. I want to make some remarks on some of the more interesting–and less interesting–reactions that I received.

First, though, a factual point: A lot of folks have asked when the American Academy of Arts and Sciences paper that all of this is based on will be available. The answer is Tuesday, and while this paper is being printed in hard copy–technically an “occasional paper” of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences–an online PDF will also be available. I will link as soon as that occurs. (Tuesday is also day the paper is being rolled out at the other AAAS–American Association for the Advancement of Science–and once again, details on the event are here.)

So, on to the responses. First, the ones I don’t find all that interesting:

1. I’ve gotten a lot of emails where there’s special pleading being done either about climate change, or about vaccination. People are saying, “Yeah, you’re right, except on my pet issue.” Well, I’m sorry–but I and many others have been down both of these roads a million times. What I wrote is representative of scientific consensus in both areas, and that’s enough to say for now, lest we get distracted from the actual point of the article (which is applicable to many other contested scientific issues than just these two super, hyper contested ones).

2. Some people completely miss the point and simply reassert that conflicts between scientists and the public occur because people are ignorant or stupid. So for instance, one of our frequent commenters, GM, says, “For the 145895486th time: if someone’s political views trump scientific facts, then this person is scientifically illiterate and a victim of poor science education. How hard is that to understand?” It’s easy to understand as an idea. But it’s also unhelpful, and in my opinion wrong. Further, the whole point of my article is to show why matters are much, much more complicated–and why the sentiment GM expresses doesn’t get us anywhere. So, please, read the article.

Now, on to the interesting stuff–or even, in some cases, the fascinating stuff.

I’m a bit honored that my piece drew a comment from Cornell University science communication prof Bruce Lewenstein, who apparently made a similar point to mine in the 1980s, and was reproached for it by none other than Isaac Asimov! Lewenstein reports that when he argued that we should “present science without demanding that nonscientists accept the scientific world view”, Asimov countered, “Does [Lewenstein] want us to explain that photosynthesis works by magic? That if we pray hard every night a cancer will cure itself?…By Newton, I’d rather be ‘arrogant’ than stupid.”

It’s not only an unforgettable quotation from an unforgettable writer–but it also epitomizes the mindset that I (and, I think, Lewenstein) are trying to modify. Look, folks–Asimov was a genius. I love his books, and I know I’m not the only one. But setting things up as “‘arrogant’ vs ‘stupid'” is a false dichotomy. I would argue that we need the ignorant to be more humble, and for the smart or highly informed to be more understanding of those who lack the same intellectual training or advantages they have. That’s the point I was trying to make (and perhaps Lewenstein was too).

Another great response came in from PalMD over at the White Coat Underground.

First, PalMD argues that not all scientists are so naive about what’s driving the public. Or as he puts it, “Those of us arguing for sound science policy are not ignorant of ideologies and of our own inabilities to sway true believers. We get that. But neither do most of us believe we can simply open up science policy to a vote.”

I appreciate the point–and of course, I also know that not all scientists think as GM does above (or, more memorably, as Asimov does). However, many certainly do. I know this in part because of the kind of response an article like this draws: Praise, but also quite a lot of defensiveness and reassertions that the problem is the public–and how dare you blame honest scientists who are doing the best they can?

In fact, my argument (and Sheril’s argument, when it comes to Unscientific America) makes some scientific critics so upset that they claim we’re ignoring the obvious problems with the public, or the educational system, or the media–when of course we’re not. We’ve always said it’s a two way street, a two cultures problem, and responsibility is spread all around. We’ve never neglected the role of the media. We’ve never neglected the problem of political cynicism or abuse of science.

PalMD also raises the question of the public’s role in science policy. To be clear, I don’t think the nonscientist public has any role in determining what the scientific facts are. However, that is very different than saying it has no role at all. It needs to be included, and it needs to be listened to–and those who ignore it are going to find their own policy goals thwarted, I’ll wager.

And PalMD has some other, very good points. For instance, he observes that when we’re communicating about the facts of science, we’re not just trying to reach the unreachable folks. We’re trying to reach our allies. We’re trying to reach policymakers. We know the deniers aren’t going to be coming out of denial any time soon.

Hey, I agree. You need different messages for different audiences–and there are those out there who are really amenable to reason, and who we can reach. That’s the good news.

However, let’s face it–we want the science denial to go away, too. We want to make inroads. We want the polling results to change. On vaccination, we want to save lives. On nuclear energy, we want a sustainable waste policy.

So that means we really are going to have to contend with the ideological opposition–and crusading straight at their misconceptions with “facts” just is not going to work.

I’ll have more responses as I see fit…and stand by for my posting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences paper, just as soon as I can.

Comments (71)

  1. Marci

    Chris,

    Thanks for posting this. As a former biochemistry major starting graduate school in a month for science and environmental policy, this strikes a few chords with me.

  2. Mary

    Chris: I’ve seen what happens when you try to reach the public. I attended one of the CDC community meetings on H1N1 last year.

    It was full of anti-science cranks and conspiracy theorists. Their network got activated, and they filled the registration. It was not reaching the average person. I talked to one of the public health officials in my city and she thanked me for showing up because she had not realized they were going to be swamped with anti-vaxxers. She said she was stunned when she saw the addresses where people were coming from. It had been intended to reach my community. #FAIL.

    As soon as they opened the floor to questions, it was like every vax blog comment you’ve ever seen. Same old flawed sciencyness, same old Baxter conspiracy theory crap.

    The CDC tried. But it did not become a real discussion. It was the same thing as on the intertubes, just live. It did have capital letters and typos–but they were verbal. And it’s even harder to make your legitimate science points without linking to pubmed verbally.

    Jes’ sayin.

  3. GM

    2. Some people completely miss the point and simply reassert that conflicts between scientists and the public occur because people are ignorant or stupid. So for instance, one of our frequent commenters, GM, says, “For the 145895486th time: if someone’s political views trump scientific facts, then this person is scientifically illiterate and a victim of poor science education. How hard is that to understand?” It’s easy to understand as an idea. But it’s also unhelpful, and in my opinion wrong. Further, the whole point of my article is to show why matters are much, much more complicated–and why the sentiment GM expresses doesn’t get us anywhere. So, please, read the article.

    You would do well do explain why it is wrong rather than just asserting it. You would also do well to explain what exactly it is that should be done (in concrete practical terms) and how it will achieve the goals you are setting in the time frame needed, as you have yet to do that. It is easy to say “The scientists need to better understand the public, stop pointing fingers and communicate better”. It is not so easy to show how it is to be actually done and how it is that if it is done, it will lead to real results.

    The science shows that we have about 10 years to act on global warming, and “acting” means things that are hard to imagine even being talked about in today’s political climate. How exactly is better scientific communication going to help solve the problem in 10 years? Explain that to us.

    Also, and this is something that another reader of the blog suggested in another thread, you have yet to show us the results of what you preach being applied in practice. Just one example of a group of people having hard preconceived ideas about an issue that has accepted the scientific consensus as a result of scientists “framing it” effectively.

    Another thing is that you seem to have a completely twisted understanding of what science (and in turn, scientific literacy) is and what the task of getting the public to embrace science really entails. As I have said many times before, apparently people think that if we could just keep creationism out of school, getting a weak doing-nothing global warming bill signed and making the anti-vaxers disappear, we have done something. We haven’t. It is not the facts, it is the methodology that defines science. Which is why I said that if people put politics above science, then this is a failure of scientific education and it is the thing that should be fixed

  4. JMW

    Chris, I think you, and perhaps Lewenstein, misinterpret Isaac Asimov’s position.

    Surely a man who wrote reams of popular science non-fiction articles, books, essays, etc., cannot be termed as having opted to exclude non-scientists from the scientific process. By his own admission, he has been attacked by scientists for wasting time writing on science issues for the general public, and compared his treatment at their hands with that accorded to Carl Sagan as a “mere popularizer of science.”

    I think Asimov’s point of contention with Lewenstein’s argument is that you cannot separate the science from the scientific world view. You cannot explain the results without some explanation of how you got those results.

    I’m reminded of a comedian my son PVR’d and we happened to watch together. The comedian was describing his flight from the part of the USA he lived in to Montreal for the Comedy Festival there. He described sitting next to a woman, and here I paraphrase:

    …she had the window seat and I had the aisle seat. She looked out the window and said, “Isn’t it amazing that all of these tons of metal and glass can fly through the air and we don’t know how it stays up?”

    And as I opened my mouth to explain to her how a plane flies, she said the thing that blew me away: “It’s a shame we’ll never know.”

    Yeah, that’s right. It’s like the entire aviation industry has been working by trial-and-error all this time. ‘Okay, let’s try the cube next!’

    I think Asimov’s point is that he would rather not try to explain anything at all, and be thought arrogant, than to misrepresent the scientific method.

  5. As Bruce implies, there’s a long history to this argument. Still, in the UK, there is evidence that all the 1990s calls for a more two-way approach to science communication had some effect on scientific culture (in the jargon: a shift from demanding the “public understanding of science” to calling for greater “public engagement with science” or “dialogue”). A recent study of scientists by the LSE is interesting in this respect.

    Still, I see the reactions to budget cuts and climategate in the UK (and aspects of the skeptics movement, though only aspects of it), and I wonder if British science is going to return to a more top-down approach, or at least questioning its shift to “engagement” (some aspects of this touched on in this post). I read your WashPo thing at the weekend and cynically thought “ha, the US are finally getting the whole two-way sci com thing, just as the UK seems to have dumped it”. Which worries me, for the UK at least, because ultimately I don’t think a top-down model works. It’s bad PR if nothing else, especially in an age of web2.0.

    Maybe one, the other, or both countries will invent something new though. It seems depressing that in many ways, it’s all so 80s.

  6. MT-LA

    GM:
    “The science shows that we have about 10 years to act on global warming, and “acting” means things that are hard to imagine even being talked about in today’s political climate. How exactly is better scientific communication going to help solve the problem in 10 years? Explain that to us.”

    If I read GM’s opinion correctly, GM is arguing for better science education, not simply better science communication. Though I agree that GM’s position is a better long term fix, it is a matter of too little too late.

    We’re talking about changes in policy necessary to combat problems like global warming. Policy changes mean voter approval. Voters are 18+ years old.

    Supposing science education reforms can happen instantaneously, any science education reform will positively effect 5-21 year old students.

    Anyone over 25 years of age right now is not going to see much more science education, so any reforms on the education front will be lost on the adult population. Sure, you may have some continuing education folks and post grads, and the significant but smaller population of adults that simply like to continue learning for fun, but the majority of voter-age adults are no longer being educated.

    If you want to make voters more scientifically literate, science education is the long term fix. But this 10 year time frame that GM asserts means that effective science communication is the ONLY short term way to tilt the voter spectrum because people, realistically, stop getting educated at a pretty early age.

  7. TB

    @ Mary

    You make an excellent point. During last summer’s health care wars, a number of congressional members town halls at home became similar vehicles for political activists. The best results came when the people running the forums understood the dynamics and reached out to the public and community leaders to ensure single-issue activists didn’t dominate the discussion. That allowed the message they wanted to convey to get through and for legitimate discussion to happen.
    It’s not an easy thing to do, but it was necessary.
    An alternative was to focus on existing groups and organizations. You might still run into opposition, but they’re less likely to completely soil where they live.

  8. Gaythia

    @6 I don’t think you should discount the possibilities of individual intellectual growth over time.

    @4 I think that the aeronautical explanation about trial and error and the cube is quite good, and we should all file it for future reference. I view making little public comments to nudge the rest of the world along as part of my small contribution to trying to avoid having the planet fall back into the dark ages.

    @2 I think that your meeting was probably analogous to one of the “teabagger” targeted Health care forums which I attended. In that case, with a very well prepared and highly capable moderator, false claims were refuted, and it was clear to the rest of the audience that some members of the special interest group were being obstructionist. The general audience then insisted that all present stick to the agenda and the protocols so that real progress in holding a discussion could be made. The fact that communication is difficult does not mean attempts should be abandoned. (fears of dark ages again).

    @Chris I think that vaccination policy in a free and democratic society needs to be a careful balancing act between public good and individual freedom. The issue is not one simply of vaccines are good/antivaxers are bad. There are many shades of opinion in the middle. Even the polio vaccine, one of the all time success stories, was the subject of considerable debate and disagreement regarding the appropriateness of the live-attenuated virus and inactivated virus versions. Pharmaceutical companies develop vaccines based partially on marketing considerations. Lobbying clout matters when it comes to inclusion in state requirement programs. Recent public policy decisions regarding H1N1 vaccines clearly changed over time. In my opinion, recognizing a middle ground and acknowledging complexity actually weakens the public’s attraction to an extreme antivaxer position.

    As is often the case where science needs to inform policy, the issue is more one of best practices in the face of uncertainties and making scientific, evidence based improvements over time than it is one of adherence to a ridged set of “science facts”.

  9. GM

    MT-LA @ 6:

    Actually I didn’t explain what I am arguing for in that post, I was simply criticizing Mooney’s position.

    What I am arguing for is the following:

    1. Strong organized action by scientists in the short term so that top-down solutions can be implemented. As you correctly explain, voters are 18+ so it is a little too late for them, which means that they will have to be forced into action they don’t like and this can only happen through top-down means.

    2. Good education will solve the problems in the long-term but good education can only happen as a result of top-down action being taken now.

    What this means in practical terms for scientists is that they should tell things like they are officially and as loud as possible. and this actually involves a lot of the coming out in public and speaking that Mooney suggests (here we agree), it is just that it is speaking the truth, not calculated lies. It is a long shot that this will achieve anything, but it is all that scientists with their limited power and influence can do.

    But it’s not being done.

    Do you see the NAS, NCSE and AAAS advocate publicly for centralized educational standards? No. You see them instead cow-towing to the religious.

    Do you see any scientific organization coming out and stating that continued economic growth is a biophysical impossibility and therefore has to be abandoned? No. You don’t even see them coming up with official emission targets in line with what the science says.

    And the list goes on.

    It would be nice if it was possible to get people to do the things that have to be done without having to confront their deeply held and cherished views. But in the real world all you can achieve this way are things totally inadequate compared to what is actually needed, because the views not to be challenged are so deeply in odds with reality. So you have no other choice but to confront them.

  10. DCW

    GM I think you are missing the point, though. Politics will always be a part of human interaction, and the “truth” is only one factor in persuading others to go along with the policies you espouse.

    Simply shouting louder and advocating top-down solutions to everything might be an effective way to show just how weak the political skills of those who advocate science are. Indeed, that seems to be what the science community has already tried and failed at.

    I think a big part of the problem is that scientists need to understand exactly WHY there is so much resistance to the science of things like evolution, climate change, birth control, vaccines, etc. and no resistance whatsoever to other sorts of scientific findings.

    Understanding and countering that resistance requires one to understand social, psychological and political factors, as well as the values they represent. It might require skills like marketing or political consulting. I understand that many in the physical sciences are impatient with that sort of thing, and really don’t think or write that way. But dealing with deniers in a politically savvy way is critical for success in convincing people of things they find inconvenient, inconsistent withn their values, morally questionable or just plain “icky”.

  11. Jon

    Surely a man who wrote reams of popular science non-fiction articles, books, essays, etc., cannot be termed as having opted to exclude non-scientists from the scientific process.

    Don’t we need to reach an even wider audience than committed science fiction fans and professional scientists? Even that’s a small slice of a big world…

  12. Jon

    I think the bottom line is that persuasion is rhetorical, and effective rhetoric involves knowing your audience. As Neil deGrasse Tyson has said, it’s analogous to the problem of how to teach. An effective teacher knows how to reach students. Teaching involves dialog. Dialog means things move in two ways. There’s speaking, but also listening.

  13. Anthony McCarthy

    I’m not a sci-fi fan, though I love Ursula K. Le guin and Clifford Simak. I wasn’t big on Asimov or the other macho oriented sci-jocks. Especially the ones that read like the silliest of pop philosophy. I didn’t read Argosy magazine either. From that quote I’ve been scratching my head wondering how a pulp fiction writer could discount the necessity of communicating with the public so blatantly. Maybe he didn’t care about people who weren’t already in his fan base, sort of like the “skeptics” and the new atheists, if there’s any difference worth wasting a term on. It could explain why Asimov churned out the stuff like Velveeta Cheese.

    Mistaking a political struggle as a scientific struggle doesn’t strike me as being especially smart.

  14. JohnV

    OK as a scientist how do I effectively build a bridge to anti-vaccine proponents who have said the following things:

    “I don’t care how much science you do or what the data shows, I have ways of knowing that vaccine caused my child’s autism”

    “If I could I would torture pharma executives because murdering them would be too easy”

    “you’re just making up that you’re on the spectrum because you’re being paid by big pharma to discredit the rest of us” (not directed to me)

    “even though non-vaccinated individuals get autism vaccines are the cause of autism”

    “My youngest had a traumatic inutero injury with birth related oxygen issues and inherited a mercury/toxin load from me. You know, the genetics part.”

    So, please, explain how one should approach individuals making these comments? I’d particularly like to know how to respond to someone who thinks autism was caught from the mother’s vaccines. Then I can go comment on their age of autism blog and try and build a bridge. Oh wait I can’t because the censor comments from scientists and educated non-scientists.

  15. PalMD also raises the question of the public’s role in science policy. To be clear, I don’t think the nonscientist public has any role in determining what the scientific facts are. However, that is very different than saying it has no role at all. It needs to be included, and it needs to be listened to–and those who ignore it are going to find their own policy goals thwarted, I’ll wager.

    Im sorry but I havent the foggiest idea what you are talking about. Who said the public has no role at all? John Q. Strawman? The public needs to be included and listened to you say. How and when are the public not included/listened to? In the US, the public elects the legislatures that provide funds to NIH NSF etc. If the public is unhappy, then they can elect representatives to not fund these organizations. Whenever public education decisions are made, the public is invited for feedback at many levels. Short of making science a democratic enterprise, what more do you want?

    Those who ignore it are going to find their own policy goals thwarted. WTH does this mean? So, a group of anti-vaxxers, or creationists, or global warming denialists, talk with the relevant scientists. The medical doctors, evolutionary biologists, environmentalists then do what?! We have established that more facts will not change the views of this part of the public, so what are we supposed to do? You say we ignore them at our peril. So what do we do? Do we give the creationists a little time in the classroom? In Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and many other states the majority of the public wants some form of Genesis taught in the science classroom. Tell me how this problem is solved by listening to the public. Scientists pastors and education policy makers sit at a table and have a non-combative 6 hour discussion of the issues (evolution, big bang, plate techtonics) and the concerns (poorly educated students in science, eternal damnation), then what?!?! Because at the end of the day, when good science is maintained the majority public is not going to say “Well at least we were involved in the discussion, we won’t worry about evolution anymore.”

  16. gillt

    It hardly needs to be said that the goal of a more scientifically literate public is not to make everyone an expert on every issue. The alternative is not to settle on getting everyone to BELIEVE in the worth of vaccines or AGW, for instance, because you open yourself up to competing narratives that may tell a more satisfying story, such as scape-goating your child’s crippling autism on western medicine, or a junta of hippies who want to take away your SUV.

    Instead use science’s greatest attribute: it’s methodology. Better educate the public on how scientists arrive at their conclusions. There is a huge deficit in the media and our education in this matter. Last year, at a panel for young scientists interested in communicating with the public, a cable TV producer said only a few seconds are dedicated to verbal explanation, the rest is graphics. In other words, you are infotaining your audience not educating them.

    We need more than surface appeal, which is all belief will get you. We need to get people to start thinking like a scientist, at least part of time. Increased awareness of how science is done, it’s methodology, alongside critical thinking skills, will garner a greater appreciation for the conclusions reached by scientists. This starts at k-12, but can also involve utilizing the internet to circumnavigate traditional media. More and better expert blogs and websites. RealCimate, Nature Blogs, Discover Blogs, Science Blogs, to name a few. Better science writing skills for aspiring journalists; every J-school should require a basics-in-science-writing course.

  17. Anthony McCarthy

    John V. what do you have to build a bridge to anti-vaccine proponents for? Figure out if its necessary and the reason you have to build the bridge before you choose a design. You might conclude that you don’t have to go through with the project.

    If it’s to promote universal vaccination, you might look into the history of attempts to get small pox vaccination adopted in the early years for clues. I’ve read recently that Cotton Mather was an advocate of vaccination while the scientific-medical establishment of his time was far more hostile, something I’ve not ever read before. You might also look at the resistance to polio vaccination in Nigeria, following on a disasterous drug trial that killed more the 200 children, if I recall it accurately. Parents whose children are in trouble are scared, they want to protect their children. Someone antagonizing them isn’t going to help. You won’t get the militants and the approach used by a prominent blogger, of attacking the parents of autistic children, isn’t going to win anyone over except the already converted. I don’t think anyone is advocating self-suppressing of the evidence, at least not here.

    I wonder, how many people are denied or avoid vaccination due to lack of health care coverage or adequate public health care. I wonder if that accounts for more of a problem, by the numbers, than anti-vaccination quackery.

  18. ComputerProf

    @JohnV – I agree with you: The problem which Mooney laudably hopes to address goes way, way beyond a lack of communication and engagement. Scientists can communicate all they want, they can do public relations nationwide, spending millions of dollars, but for the millions of Americans who really do literally stand in the way of science (like creationists), no amount of reasonable communication is going to change a bedrock belief which they hold as a matter of religious faith and therefore personal identity.
    The problem is extraordinary, very deeply ingrained, and catastrophically severe. The solution proposed does not have anything like the power needed to ensure that sound scientific policies will actually be implemented. As Mooney says above: “We know the deniers aren’t going to be coming out of denial any time soon.”
    Exactly. And the true problem is that such deniers number in the millions, and ***vote***, and thus really do change scientific policy decisions for the worse. That is a fundamental conflict over science in a democratic system. I’m all for better communication, but communicating better with our allies or potential allies cannot solve that problem.
    We actually do have to do the hard work to shift the proportions in our population of the “deniers” to numbers small enough that they result in less harm to policy decisions which desperately need good science. That involves a massive commitment to better education, use of the bully pulpit at the top, and every cultural avenue for promoting good science we can find. It also involves coming down hard on real ignorance and the real human damage and suffering it causes.

  19. You won’t get the militants and the approach used by a prominent blogger, of attacking the parents of autistic children, isn’t going to win anyone over except the already converted.

    If you are talking about Orac, probably the most prominent blogger in that particular debate, then please provide evidence for him “attacking the parents of autistic children”. Orac might be pretty harsh on specific people who happens to have autistic children, but that has nothing to do with the fact that their children are autistic.

    Also keep in mind, that people like Orac have many commenters who found his blog while on the fence, and who was convinced by his points.

  20. Gaythia

    I would like to see more effort expended on evaluating access issues such as that raised by Anthony McCarthy @17:

    “I wonder, how many people are denied or avoid vaccination due to lack of health care coverage or adequate public health care. I wonder if that accounts for more of a problem, by the numbers, than anti-vaccination quackery.”

  21. Chris Mooney

    Folks,
    Orac has a strong critique of the Washington Post oped

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/06/how_engaged_should_scientists_be.php

    I disagree with it and plan to reply, but first, I have to actually get ready to present the American Academy paper tomorrow, upon which this is all based. So more on all that soon…

    chris

  22. The most important reason why we need to frame the debates as Mooney suggests is that the only way an “objective” source (journalist) can simply report the fact that Evolution is accepted scientific fact is if they are not declaring an ideology wrong or unsound. When people feel the paper is taking a stand on the issue of God or declaring their beliefs stupid, we’ve created exactly the dynamic that makes scientists pretend there is controversy of global warming.

    To be objective – and non-partisan – a reporter has to state the facts: climate scientists near-unanimously accept anthropogenic warming. That’s a fact, like evolution. But people can believe what they want – believe in creationism? That’s okay. You just can’t insist on a newspaper lying and claiming it’s not accepted by scientists if they do.

    As soon as a reporter says you’re stupid for not believing the consensus, you’re stepping outside of those boundaries. A reporters job is to simply tell people what the science is, do with that what you will. No one says you have to accept everything scientists accept.

    It’s because science is “truth” that newspapers feel compelled to create controversy to keep themselves from taking a side.

  23. “makes scientists pretend there is controversy of global warming. ” Make that “reporters.”

  24. The is a great conversation, and one that’s near and dear to my heart, thanks to all the times I’ve talked with groups about peak oil or climate change. I’ve dealt with more than my share of comments from people who totally rejected the notion of peak oil, for example, because, “there’s plenty of oil — the oil companies are just trying to [expletive] us again”.

    I hate to say this so bluntly, but I think we need to realize that some people, like the hard-core deniers of climate change, peak oil, vaccine safety, an HIV/AIDS link, etc. will never be convinced and should therefore be ignored. If your ultimate goal is to get better public policy to address some of these challenges (and anything else is just making a game of it, IMO), then you should ignore the “unconvinceables” and aim for the mainstream consumers and voters and getting a majority on your side.

    I get some truly bizarre hate mail thanks to my web site, and it used to bother me quite a bit. Now I just delete it and try not to think about it.

    This is far from a perfect approach, obviously. If nothing else, the wretched state of media ensures that the tiny but highly vocal minority will get far more than their share of attention, which will in turn influence some of those mainstreamers in the vast middle. I keep hoping that we reach the point very soon where the climate change deniers are treated by the media the same way the moon landing hoax people are — they’re ignored or treated like a bunch of colorful kooks.

  25. Jon

    I hate to say this so bluntly, but I think we need to realize that some people, like the hard-core deniers of climate change, peak oil, vaccine safety, an HIV/AIDS link, etc. will never be convinced….

    Chris already said he agreed with this. But are the deniers the only ones who vote? There are lots of people to reach who aren’t the “converted” (whatever that means in this case–GM would mean something different by that than I do) and aren’t “deniers” either. Isn’t that a large part of the population?

  26. I am most familiar with the anti-vaccine movement. My opinions about this movement might be true of other denialist cultures.

    One thing I really think underlies the anti-vaccine stuff is jockeying for status within a certain type of affluent, educated parent clique. IMO, parents who work hard to achieve a degree and begin a career then opt out of that to stay home find themselves with little or no social status in the larger society. They must then seek status among their stay-home parent peers. Rejecting all kinds of mainstream methods, whether those methods are valid or not, is a marker of status among certain parents because it sets them apart from the unwashed masses.

    Rejecting vaccines is a relatively safe bet for many stay-home parents of a healthy, insured, well-fed, first-world child, although that is changing as herd immunity is increasingly compromised. It demonstrates that the vaccine denier is parenting much harder than those who “unthinkingly” consume science-based medicine. It also demonstrates a profound sense of entitlement.

  27. “But setting things up as “‘arrogant’ vs ’stupid’” is a false dichotomy.”

    Absolutely a false dichotomy, as it is the willfully stupid who are often arrogant. They’re also perfect examples of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  28. Anthony McCarthy

    Orac might be pretty harsh on specific people who happens to have autistic children, but that has nothing to do with the fact that their children are autistic.

    And a big help in convincing others, it hasn’t been.

  29. TB

    “Also keep in mind, that people like Orac have many commenters who found his blog while on the fence, and who was convinced by his points.”

    Excellent point. Setting up anti-vaxers as an example of the kinds of groups that needs to be reached ignores the larger group that could be swayed.

  30. John Kotcher

    Hi Chris, I’ve posted the following critique of Orac’s critique over at his blog. I’ll be at the AAAS roll out tomorrow if you want to talk more. Looking forward to it. -John

    Orac,

    You’ve written a long critique. I agree with some of the things you have to say here, and disagree with others. For what it’s worth, I’ll speak specifically to two points you’ve made.

    1.) You argue that a public that better understands the scientific process will lead to less conflict over issues such as climate change, vaccination, etc. But take the GMO debate, for instance. If you talk to a molecular biologist who is developing the technology to create GMOs, by and large they will support the use of the technology. However, if you talk to ecologists, who I think it is safe to say also have a pretty solid understanding of the scientific process, they tend to have legitimate, scientifically informed reservations about the adoption and deployment of GMO technology. So unfortunately, the assertion that a better understanding of the scientific process can provide an antidote to science controversies doesn’t pan out either. Again, it is more about differences in disciplinary training, world view, values, and the social background of an individual–regardless of whether the are an expert or a layperson.

    For more on this phenomenon, see the following article from the journal Environmental Science & Policy:

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/publications/special/sarewitz_how_science_makes_environmental_controversies_worse.pdf

    2.) I don’t know specifically about the Canadian case, but regarding whether there is any evidence of the effectiveness of activities that cultivate a dialog between experts and the public to improve environmental decision making, there was a 2008 National Research Council report that examined that exact issue.

    Their conclusion (from p. 2):

    “Conclusion 1: When done well, public participation improves the quality and legitimacy of a decision and builds the capacity of all involved to engage in the policy process. It can lead to better results in terms of environmental quality and other social objectives. It also can enhance trust and understanding among parties. Achieving these results depends on using practices that address difficulties that specific aspects of the context can present.”

    http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12434

  31. DCW

    I suppose the point is, just like the denialists, the pro-science community seems to be looking for a “magic bullet” to make the deniers go away.

    The thing to do is learn from those in the PR and political field as to how to combat these. There are experts in THOSE fields and the pro-science community needs to use their experience and expertise.

    For example, only recently have I started to see ads on TV pointing out that not taking vaccines are resulting in sick (and dead) children whooping cough comes back. That horrible sound of the sick kids coughing plays at the heartstrings and fights fire with fire. And it’s backed up with science.

    The climate deniers – or more precisely, the people who are LISTENING to the climate deniers and might be persuaded, what are THEY worried about? I don’t really know but thought needs to be put into the reasons they are fighting so hard. Is it the libertarian thing? Is it that they realize that they will have to give up that which marks them as successful (big house in the burbs, big car)? Is part of it that someone like Al Gore who already has all that is asking them to give it up? They’ll give it all up and then some scientist says, “sorry, our bad” and it was all for nothing? A focus only on the science does not address those fears.

  32. Anthony McCarthy

    For example, only recently have I started to see ads on TV pointing out that not taking vaccines are resulting in sick (and dead) children whooping cough comes back. That horrible sound of the sick kids coughing plays at the heartstrings and fights fire with fire. And it’s backed up with science. DCW

    It also appeals to the intelligence of people on a level they are prepared for and doesn’t gratuitously hector and abuse people who really believe they’ve got the best interest of children in mind.

    That case in Nigeria is one worth considering, where the polio immunization program ran into the aftermath of a disastrous drug trial that killed a lot of children. It doesn’t help when there are drug and vaccine recalls and other things like that. You can’t stop that from happening but you’d better be prepared to deal with the loss of confidence in scientists, who have often signed off on those. It’s a more nuanced case that has to be made and any attempt to make it will be destroyed by a display of dismissive arrogance.

  33. Three cheers for @DCW’s remark. Changing opinion by shifting perspectives is precisely what PR is all about. While I’ve quite bought into the ‘perception is reality’ meme, there’s an element of truth to it. And I think one of the reasons scientists have become so frustrated is because they really get very little training (if any) in how public opinion can be changed over time, and what’s involved in the process. Because it IS a process, and it can be long, slow and arduous. It also requires rethinking and a certain amount of re-inventing the wheel. By rethinking, I mean going back to basics. On the vaccination issue, I can tell you that I have yet to talk to a single arts grad who’s ever heard of the concept of herd immunity. So obviously you have to go back to at least that point. You also have to look at the successes on the science communications front and learn from best practises there, then apply them to new issues. Two of the biggest successes in North America have been getting women to get Pap smears and getting fluoride added to water – although obviously neither have a 100% success rate.

  34. gillt

    There’s much in Orac’s post to agree with but this stood out as something that deserves repeating.

    “That’s part of the problem. They are consumers of science, but do not understand (or necessarily accept) the scientific method or how science works. While no one expects the average lay person to be versed in the details, at least as much as he can be given his knowledge base, of a complicated and technical subject such as climate change or vaccine science, it is not unreasonable to expect our educational system to instill a basic understanding of science as a process. That is perhaps one reason why so many people view science is an apparent means to and end, and then only that subset of science that they perceive as supporting their viewpoint. It’s also one reason why so many people are expert cherry pickers of scientific findings to use to support their view of reality. So the question, as Evil Monkey points out, is to do more than just “listen,” which is apparently all that Chris thinks that supporters of science should be doing.”

  35. Anthony McCarthy

    While no one expects the average lay person to be versed in the details, at least as much as he can be given his knowledge base, of a complicated and technical subject such as climate change or vaccine science, it is not unreasonable to expect our educational system to instill a basic understanding of science as a process. Orac

    It’s not just “lay people” who will not have the knowledge to understand complex science dependent on information that isn’t part of their previous knowledge, scientists, even very eminent ones won’t be much more informed.

    Even individual scientists are ignorant about most of the body of scientific knowledge, and it is not simply that biologists do not understand quantum mechanics. If I were to ask my colleagues in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard to explain the evolutionary importance of RNA editing in trypanosomes, they would be just as mystified by the question as the typical well-educated reader of this review.
    Richard Lewontin NYT Review of Books January 7, 1997

    I don’t think that a knowledge of “science as a process” is going to be enough to answer the need for the public to trust scientists to produce reliable results that have a beneficial effect on their lives. Do the doctors and scientists who he and his cohorts regularly criticize and attack lack a knowledge of “science as a process”?

    Having an abstract appreciation of “the process” won’t do anything to dispel skepticism fueled by a host of things including past breeches of trust that the decisions by corporations that have scientists guarantees of safety and effectiveness. Responding to that suspension of belief with that other form of “skepticism” that Orac regularly revels in, consisting of belittling mocking, distorting, hectoring opponents, all culminating in unleashing the boy packs that frequent so many of the Scienceblogs in swarms, is no substitute for intelligent and respectful opposition. I will give Orac one thing, he regularly brings more factual evidence into his diatribes, many, equally popular bloggers of his kind don’t. Not that they are regularly criticized by their fellow “skeptical” inquirers.

    Scientists lose the authority to ask people to trust them when they sign off on profitable but risky science, sometimes on science that is as bogus as anything that will get the legitimate criticism of Orac and others, they lose it because science has no effective method of defrocking scientists who do that, sometimes over and over again. If they developed means to rebuild the reputation that science would like to have, the old fashioned way, buy deserving it, instead of mocking faulty ideas as “woo”, people might believe them when they criticize the pseudo-science that is dangerous.

    You’d think that just the battle against climate denial, funded by extraction industries, with their own bought off science mouthpieces, would be a big enough problem without wasting time on arrogantly deriding relatively harmless people. I’ll bet you anything that if the frat boy tactics stopped tomorrow, the problems of people accepting science would lessen, though it wouldn’t go away.

    Denying that it is, in the end, a matter of authority is dishonest. Of course, even scientists are dependent on the authority of their colleagues in other parts of science, how can they expect the public to accept science on a basis that scientists can’t practice because no life is long enough and there isn’t enough leisure time to master the necessary information.

    Third, it is said that there is no place for an argument from authority in science. The community of science is constantly self-critical, as evidenced by the experience of university colloquia “in which the speaker has hardly gotten 30 seconds into the talk before there are devastating questions and comments from the audience.” If Sagan really wants to hear serious disputation about the nature of the universe, he should leave the academic precincts in Ithaca and spend a few minutes in an Orthodox study house in Brooklyn. It is certainly true that within each narrowly defined scientific field there is a constant challenge to new technical claims and to old wisdom. In what my wife calls the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral Syndrome, young scientists on the make will challenge a graybeard, and this adversarial atmosphere for the most part serves the truth. But when scientists transgress the bounds of their own specialty they have no choice but to accept the claims of authority, even though they do not know how solid the grounds of those claims may be. Who am I to believe about quantum physics if not Steven Weinberg, or about the solar system if not Carl Sagan?

    Richard Lewontin, same review as above.

    I won’t go into the quality of the knowledge of “the processes of science” regularly on display at Orac’s and other blogs like it, except to say it’s not exactly impressive.

  36. Anthony McCarthy

    I should have said in that last sentence “the quality of the knowlege of “the processes of science” regularly on display in the comment threads of Oracs and other blogs like it…

  37. 14 @ McCarthy wrote:

    You might also look at the resistance to polio vaccination in Nigeria, following on a disasterous drug trial that killed more the 200 children, if I recall it accurately.

    No, your recall is not accurate. 11 children died (200 was the number of children given the antibiotic dring a meningitis epidemic). The vaccination problem occurred 7 years later, when local Nigerian politicians and religious leaders deliberately spread rumors that the vaccine would sterilize children.

    This is a problem with the whole “communication” issue. With anti-vaccination groups, anti-HIV groups and anti-global warming campaigners a major part of the “information” put out by these people is outright fabrication or complete distortion.

    No amount of “listening” will help when the other side is not telling the truth.

  38. Anthony McCarthy

    I know I read this account, which is where the number 200 came from, though as you point out it was eleven children dead and 200 reportedly left injured and brain damaged.

    The opposition of radical clerics is partly motivated by grievances against pharmaceutical companies.

    Child being vaccinated
    Young children are the worst affected by poliomyelitis

    “The Pfizer drug test in 1996 is still on our minds. To a large extent, it shaped and strengthened my view on polio and other immunisation campaigns,” said Mr bin Uthman.

    At the time, the US company had used an untested drug on children to fight an epidemic of bacterial meningitis in the Kano area.

    Lawsuits have since been lodged against Pfizer in the United States and in Nigeria, alleging that the drug trial was illegal and that it killed 11 children and left 200 others disabled.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2070634.stm

    You might notice this as well: If they really love our children, why did they watch Bosnian children killed and 500,000 Iraqi children die of starvation and disease under an economic embargo?

    Trying to isolate peoples’ thinking about issues like that from the context of their experience and their understanding isn’t going to produce understanding or trust. I’d fault the Imams for their lack of knowledge and sophistication while understanding their lack of trust.

    I don’t know, do you think the anti-vaccination folks don’t believe what they’re saying? How do you think you can convince them they’re wrong without communication? Telling them they’re liars and superstitious doesn’t seem to have done the trick, I’d have thought that wouldn’t be surprising. You go on Orac’s blog and disagree with him vigorously but politely and see what happens.

  39. As a brief introduction, I’m a long time opponent of creationists, and have stood up against anti-vaccinationists, anti-HIV folks and global warming deniers. I’m a working scientist, a member of the Australian Science Communicators and an occasional interviewee on the local Australian Broadcasting Commission radio (mostly about my hobby, astronomy, though).

    The big issue that Chris misses is the role of the media. Here in Australia at least, we have courses and in house training in communicating with the media, with special communications courses as prizes for promising young scientists. But none of this matters if the media won’t grant you the time of day.

    During a relatively recent outbreak of creationism that was circulating in outr newspapers, I and other scientists and educations wrote letters, spent ages mailing back and forth with editors trying to get rebuttal pieces in, all to no avail (in at least one case getting the editor to agree with me that that article in question was factually wrong, but they still wouldn’t publish a rebuttal or correction as “too much time has passed”).

    The national newspaper, The Australian, has never met a global warming denier it didn’t like, but almost never gets pieces from real climate scientists to correct the headline grabbing misinformation the Australian publishes. To the point where real climate scientists don’t even bother with the Australian anymore (and yes, I’ve written letters and such, to no avail as well).

    So this is the question, how can we highly motivated scientists actually communicate when the media won’t give us a voice (or reduce that voice to an out-of-context sound bite in a “balanced” presentation with someone spreading misinformation)?

    (as I type, we have an epidemic of whooping cough sweeping my state and vaccination here is free. If you go to the “University of Google” the top 5 hits for vaccine information in Australia is to anti-vaccination sites – any strategies for changing that?)

  40. 38. Anthony McCarthy Says:

    though as you point out it was eleven children dead and 200 reportedly left injured and brain damaged.

    You are still getting it wrong, 200 children were the total number given the antibiotic. The number alleged to have been brain damaged is much smaller (although how you are going to tell the difference between brain damage from meningitis and that from the drug is very unclear).

    So, a bad result in a clinical trial is a good reason to tell lies about vaccination? It wasn’t lack of trust that was the issue, it was the out and out fabrications and lies that were.

    I don’t know, do you think the anti-vaccination folks don’t believe what they’re saying?

    In terms of the active leaders (rather than the followers) either they know they are telling untruths, or they are so clueless as to be unable to read for comprehension, or they have mental issues. Calling them out on their misrepresentations is the only way to go here.

    You go on Orac’s blog and disagree with him vigorously but politely and see what happens.Long time lurker and occasional commenter at Orac’s. You characterisation of him and his approach is almost, but not quite, completely wrong.

  41. gillt

    McCarthy: “I should have said in that last sentence “the quality of the knowlege of “the processes of science”

    Believe me, I stopped paying attention to your YNH style whining long before the last sentence.

  42. GM

    35. Anthony McCarthy Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 9:39 pm
    I don’t think that a knowledge of “science as a process” is going to be enough to answer the need for the public to trust scientists to produce reliable results that have a beneficial effect on their lives. Do the doctors and scientists who he and his cohorts regularly criticize and attack lack a knowledge of “science as a process”?

    Yes, they do. Doctors in general aren’t very well versed in that to begin with as it isn’t a part of their education that’s emphasized enough. But as a rule, as I pointed out above, if you reject the scientific consensus on a certain issue for any other reason other than data that refutes it (that means preconceived views based on ideology and/or politics), then you are methodologically scientifically illiterate.

    Having an abstract appreciation of “the process” won’t do anything to dispel skepticism fueled by a host of things including past breeches of trust that the decisions by corporations that have scientists guarantees of safety and effectiveness.

    Pure BS. “Breaches of trust” when they have occurred have not occurred because of something inherently bad about science, they have occurred because of certain economic/political interests involved. But those have nothing to do with science, and if there were scientists involved, those were scientists not doing good science and putting other things above the core principles of science. Understanding of science as a process and methodology allows one to see this very clearly. You, apparently, can’t see it.

  43. GM

    30. John Kotcher Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 3:56 pm
    1.) You argue that a public that better understands the scientific process will lead to less conflict over issues such as climate change, vaccination, etc. But take the GMO debate, for instance. If you talk to a molecular biologist who is developing the technology to create GMOs, by and large they will support the use of the technology. However, if you talk to ecologists, who I think it is safe to say also have a pretty solid understanding of the scientific process, they tend to have legitimate, scientifically informed reservations about the adoption and deployment of GMO technology. So unfortunately, the assertion that a better understanding of the scientific process can provide an antidote to science controversies doesn’t pan out either. Again, it is more about differences in disciplinary training, world view, values, and the social background of an individual–regardless of whether the are an expert or a layperson.

    Wrong. The public thinks that GMO are bad for their health. Because you know, “they have DNA in them”. The molecular biologist will tell you that this is absurd, which it is. The ecologist will tell you that there are concerns about the safety of GMO with respect to the health of ecosystems. Which is also true but is a completely different thing from what the molecular biologist was refuting before that. And it also happens not be on the mind of many people who are afraid of GMO – one things that we can all agree on is that people care about things that they perceive as directly concerning them. The health of the ecosystems, of course, is something that they should be very concerned about according to that criteria, but most people can’t see that far…

    Anyway, the point is that those are completely different issues, so don’t mix them up.

  44. GM

    10. DCW Says:
    June 28th, 2010 at 11:32 am
    GM I think you are missing the point, though. Politics will always be a part of human interaction, and the “truth” is only one factor in persuading others to go along with the policies you espouse.

    Why should that be? If it is simply continuously asserted and never challenged by anyone, it will indeed never change. I claim to be completely apolitical (and not only in the sense of the kind of politics that’s being done by parties and politicians, I and this way in the lab too) so apparently it is possible. All that’s needed is instilling a respect and appreciation for facts, evidence and logic at an early enough age.

    Simply shouting louder and advocating top-down solutions to everything might be an effective way to show just how weak the political skills of those who advocate science are. Indeed, that seems to be what the science community has already tried and failed at.

    How exactly has the science community “tried and failed”. On which issues? A few feeble statements against creationism and global warming denialism here and there and that’s it. The science community has never presented a strong unified position on any issue. While it is worth thinking about what would happen if it did. Play out the scenarios in your head – we are often told that we have to cowtow to the public’s deeply held beliefs so that we keep our funding. And that’s usually accepted without much questioning. But how exactly is it going to happen if we decided to play hardball?

    I think a big part of the problem is that scientists need to understand exactly WHY there is so much resistance to the science of things like evolution, climate change, birth control, vaccines, etc. and no resistance whatsoever to other sorts of scientific findings.

    We already know the reasons very well. This doesn’t change the range of possible solutions.

    Understanding and countering that resistance requires one to understand social, psychological and political factors, as well as the values they represent. It might require skills like marketing or political consulting. I understand that many in the physical sciences are impatient with that sort of thing, and really don’t think or write that way. But dealing with deniers in a politically savvy way is critical for success in convincing people of things they find inconvenient, inconsistent withn their values, morally questionable or just plain “icky”.

    Wake up to reality. Here it is what has to be sold to global warming denialists:

    More than 80% cut in emissions ASAP, (and by ASAP I don;t mean ASAP in the political sense) which means basically going cold turkey now. End of economic growth. Complete restructuring of the whole world financial system as it is dependent on eternal growth to survive, which is not possible. Worldwide population control. Ban on deforestation and severe restrictions of commercial fishing. The list goes on.

    Now try to successfully sell this to people through careful understanding of their “values” and “the social, psychological and political factors” driving their behavior…

  45. gillt

    GM: “Doctors in general aren’t very well versed in that to begin with as it isn’t a part of their education that’s emphasized enough.”

    Hey, my PI is an MD!

    Generally, though I agree. Unless they are md/phds or have spent summers in a lab, there is no reason to assume medical doctors and med students know any more about methodology than an architect.

  46. ThomasL

    Ian (@ 39),

    So the news report is wrong? It clearly states it left a dozen dead and 200 with brain damage. Maybe you two are talking about a different incident.

    I Don’t know much about it, only read the news report. If you have a correction to the reported data please link

  47. ThomasL

    GM (@41)

    “But as a rule, as I pointed out above, if you reject the scientific consensus on a certain issue for any other reason other than data that refutes it (that means preconceived views based on ideology and/or politics), then you are methodologically scientifically illiterate.”

    You really need to read Thomas Kuhn’s work (or at least his “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”) and the understandings that have resulted from it in regards to how science advances. If what you state here were the case, there would be no advancement. In fact he argues that the only reason anyone accepts a theory is exactly the reasons you claim they cannot. He’s writing about scientists doing science, not your normal guy in the street. So if the scientists don’t even work this way how, is one to expect the uninitiated to?

    Or are you trying to tell me that the maverick and later viewed as “genius” types who bucked the status quo and went about to prove such was wrong were “scientifically illiterate”? In many cases there were as yet no unmanageable issues with the “consensus” held at the time.

    Your limited study of history and history of ideas is showing in this comment.

  48. Anthony McCarthy

    In terms of the active leaders (rather than the followers) either they know they are telling untruths, or they are so clueless as to be unable to read for comprehension, or they have mental issues. Calling them out on their misrepresentations is the only way to go here. Ian Musgrave

    I don’t have any problem with refuting any untrue information they might be spreading, exhaustively, as needed, Orac does that which is good. I do wish, though, that people would find more effective ways to do it than with their fan pleasing derision and mockery that I believe turns off a significant number of people who might be persuaded by the evidence. He does that too. He’s not among the worst of the bloggers who adopt that style but he does deal with issues that are more important than the ones many of them do.

    As to the distinction between “leaders” and “followers”, if they have a disabled child who they believe is the the victim of vaccination, that is what I’d imagine would have an influence in how people will react to personal attacks on them. I doubt that personal attacks on “the leaders” are the wisest use of any attention you might get from the wider public, which will be limited. While having a blog that indulges in personal attacks will get you what passes for a large following, in blog terms, who like that kind of thing, most people don’t spend large amounts of time on blogs to start with and there is a considerable part of that population who don’t like that kind of thing.

    If there is evidence that someone doesn’t believe what they’re saying there isn’t any thing wrong with producing it but you’ve got a limited amount of time and attention so it’s probably best used making that case instead of indulging in amateur psychoanalysis of them.

    So, a bad result in a clinical trial is a good reason to tell lies about vaccination? It wasn’t lack of trust that was the issue, it was the out and out fabrications and lies that were. Ian Musgrave

    I’ll forego the temptation to ascribe any reasons to you in attributing something like that, which I never said nor was implied in what I said. You have, clearly, misunderstood my point which is the bad results in a drug trial IN A THIRD WORLD POPULATION who have frequently been used as guinea pigs by drug manufacturers in the wealthy world, is an obvious REASON for a LACK OF TRUST in even unrelated, safe and effective immunization programs. It certainly is in this case, as stated by the people who were suspicious of the immunization program.

    You can use the incident to criticize the people who didn’t understand and reacted badly, indulging in your own side issue, or you can use it to learn something about why the problem arose and try to fix that. Clouding that important consideration with anti-religious invective, of the kind that even Orac has occasionally indulged in, isn’t going to help you avoid the problem in the future. Much as you might wish it, the Imams are not going away any time soon nor will the people who consider them credible.

    I’d have thought the parallels between the people in Nigeria who had that reaction and the anti-vaccine people in wealthy countries who react badly to similar news coming from pharmaceutical and medical industries in a similar manner. Which is more complex to deal with than your ascribed motives. Those might be true, your mind reading act might be accurate, though I doubt it. However if the dead and maimed children from the bad drug trial weren’t there, they wouldn’t be able to point to them as evidence to back up their assertions. I’m afraid a lot of folks sitting on North America and Europe might not understand that even one local child dead as a result of corporate activity is found by many folks to have rather a compelling effect as evidence. Trying to convince them with arguments they have to accept on faith, in most cases, should begin by appreciating that important context.

    I’ve agreed with Orac on his blog and have on about three occasions disagreed strongly with him on various issues. I’ve got direct experience of the reaction of Orac and his regulars to what happens when you disagree with him on his blog, presenting supporting information to back up your disagreement. He doesn’t react well to it, even when it doesn’t contain name calling, doesn’t ascribe base motives and when it is backed up with evidence. Why he or his regulars should expect the people they attack with name calling, ascribing base motives, or, at times, without evidence of what they attribute to them, would react any better than they do might be something at least he could usefully think about. I haven’t found adopting the custom of his blog in response and as an example does much to improve things.

    I remember what a lawyer told me once when another lawyer wrote an insulting letter to me in an attempt to get me to over react and back off on his client who was trying to cheat my family. I’d written a factual refutation which matched his imperious disdain. My lawyer said, “Do you want the temporary satisfaction of sending this or do you want to win the case,” which was the best advice I’ve ever had from any lawyer or other professional, for that matter. I didn’t send it and we won the case on the facts. If your facts are strong enough you should trust them, if you don’t you might ask yourself why you don’t.

  49. Anthony McCarthy

    Do the doctors and scientists who he and his cohorts regularly criticize and attack lack a knowledge of “science as a process”?

    Yes, they do. Doctors in general aren’t very well versed in that to begin with as it isn’t a part of their education that’s emphasized enough. GM

    Then why would Orac, a doctor, expect that the general public, most of whom don’t have a bachelors degree are going to have knowledge of “science as a process”? I’ve often wished that peoples’ science education began with what it was and what it wasn’t, the reason that people invented science, to obtain more reliable knowledge of the physical universe, and that it doesn’t do anything else very well. Most importantly that it doesn’t work at all except when it is based in physical evidence. But they don’t and I’d never try to make a detailed attempt at persuasion on the basis of process. Look how difficult it has been to argue about scientific epistemology on the basis of even that fundamental aspect of process.

    Pretending that science never depends on authority is part of the fashionable invective of dogmatic materialists, it is entirely and completely untrue. It is even more untrue in the public’s address and use of scientific information and the resultant political effect.

    Breaches of trust” when they have occurred have not occurred because of something inherently bad about science, they have occurred because of certain economic/political interests involved. But those have nothing to do with science ….

    I don’t think you’re going to be able to successfully divide the motives of the scientists who, using their scientific credentials – which they have as a result of their acceptance by other scientists — from the science. Someone once said that if bad religion is considered to still be religion then bad science is still science. Bad science has been accepted in the past taught and propogated in science — as gillt pointed out here the other day. Bad science has been the basis of medical treatments, for example, often in the form of dangerous medications which kill people and are recalled. Before it was rejected, by any realistic use of the word, it was science.

    I’m always shocked at how unaware of scientific processes some of its advocates are. If there is one thing that is obvious about the process of science, it is that it is done by people and only people and, try as you might, you can’t get past that origin as a part of the process. If you didn’t have that fact and science existed as the mythical pure, pristine search for truth things would be far different than they are, have been and there is every reason to expect they will continue to be. But that is a myth.

    Understanding science as a process and methodology lets you see some parts of it clearly but science in the real world is more than just a process and methodology . It would be like looking at religion only on the basis of its aspirations instead of on its diverse, messy and variable real life existence in the world. Pretending that either one is pure and pristine is a form of denial and leads to bad decisions.

  50. @ ThomasL (46)Says:

    So the news report is wrong? It clearly states it left a dozen dead and 200 with brain damage. Maybe you two are talking about a different incident.

    Yes, the news report is wrong. Are you surprised given the generally large amount of clueless reporting that goes on?

  51. 48 @McCarthy says:

    You have, clearly, misunderstood my point which is the bad results in a drug trial IN A THIRD WORLD POPULATION who have frequently been used as guinea pigs by drug manufacturers in the wealthy world, is an obvious REASON for a LACK OF TRUST in even unrelated, safe and effective immunization programs.

    But it wasn’t lack of trust, it was local politicians and religious leaders deliberatly lying to the population, claiming the vaccinations would make children sterile.

    I’ve got direct experience of the reaction of Orac and his regulars to what happens when you disagree with him on his blog, presenting supporting information to back up your disagreement.

    Like http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2010/06/elie_wiesel_carve_out_an_exception_to_fr.php#comment-2564804 Methinks you protest too much.

  52. Anthony McCarthy

    Yes, Ian, that was my experiment in adopting Orac’s and his regular’s style in responding to him after he distorted the first point I made in the discussion. It’s my general policy to not allow myself to be put to a disadvantage in a discussion where double standards are in effect. I didn’t think the results were worth lowering myself and wouldn’t repeat the experiment. Why the repeated failure of their jocular invective hasn’t led them to discontinue it might be something they should consider.

    Now, you want to discuss the merits of arguments in this discussion, without further distortion and dishonest attribution of motives?

  53. Anthony McCarthy

    But it wasn’t lack of trust, it was local politicians and religious leaders deliberatly lying to the population, claiming the vaccinations would make children sterile. Ian

    How do you know they didn’t believe it? It’s a waste of time trying to parse out that issue, you won’t be able to do it in a way that will convince the 0nly two groups of people you need to convince to change things, the local politicians and religious leaders and the people who allow them to be their leaders. Though making that charge will get you the approval of some of the audiences at the Scienceblogs, who can agree with it to the point of unanimity but which will have not the first positive effect in SOLVING THE PROBLEM. Not least of which because it will make it more difficult for the politicians and religious leaders to change their minds because a bunch of ridiculing atheists in North America and Europe and its extensions are calling names and saying they’re stupid.

    Anyone who might suspect that actually solving the problem wasn’t the motive in the participants of those kinds of blog discussions might be forgiven for getting that impression.

  54. GM

    47. ThomasL Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 2:43 am
    GM (@41)
    “But as a rule, as I pointed out above, if you reject the scientific consensus on a certain issue for any other reason other than data that refutes it (that means preconceived views based on ideology and/or politics), then you are methodologically scientifically illiterate.”
    You really need to read Thomas Kuhn’s work (or at least his “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”) and the understandings that have resulted from it in regards to how science advances. If what you state here were the case, there would be no advancement. In fact he argues that the only reason anyone accepts a theory is exactly the reasons you claim they cannot. He’s writing about scientists doing science, not your normal guy in the street. So if the scientists don’t even work this way how, is one to expect the uninitiated to?

    I am familiar with “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, what I said still stands. That scientists sometimes do similar things does not mean that they should. I have argued many times that a disturbingly large portion of scientists isn’t very well trained in basic scientific reasoning and methodology, including some very visible figures (Francis Collins, Kary Mullis, etc.). It was even worse back in the days as there was little formal scholarly study of scientific practices to pay attention to these things, even though working scientists had on average much deeper philosophical education. It doesn’t mean it should be this way though.

    Or are you trying to tell me that the maverick and later viewed as “genius” types who bucked the status quo and went about to prove such was wrong were “scientifically illiterate”? In many cases there were as yet no unmanageable issues with the “consensus” held at the time.

    How did you decide that I wanted to say that? The “maverick later viewed as genius” that goes out to prove the scientific consensus is wrong, does not do so by simply insisting the consensus is wrong, he rolls up his sleeves and does the work of collecting the evidence. If you noticed, I described “rejecting the scientific consensus for reasons other than evidence refuting it” as unscientific, not just “rejecting the scientific consensus”

  55. Ruth Seeley is right about the power or PR to push acceptance of fluoridation. Unfortunately, science does not, and never has supported fluoridation. The father of PR himself, E Bernays, was at the forefront of getting you to believe in fluoridation

    More than 2,800 professionals (including over 260 dentists) urge the US Congress to stop water fluoridation until Congressional hearings are conducted, citing scientific evidence that fluoridation, long promoted to fight tooth decay, is ineffective and has serious health risks. See statement: http://www.fluorideaction.org/statement.august.2007.html

    Also, eleven Environmental Protection Agency employee unions representing over 7000 environmental and public health professionals called for a moratorium on drinking water fluoridation programs across the country, and have asked EPA management to recognize fluoride as posing a serious risk of causing cancer in people.

    Approximately, 80 US communities rejected fluoridation in 2008 & 2009 with more to come.

    for more info http://www.FluorideAction.Net

  56. GM

    49. Anthony McCarthy Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 5:00 am
    Do the doctors and scientists who he and his cohorts regularly criticize and attack lack a knowledge of “science as a process”?
    Yes, they do. Doctors in general aren’t very well versed in that to begin with as it isn’t a part of their education that’s emphasized enough. GM
    Then why would Orac, a doctor, expect that the general public, most of whom don’t have a bachelors degree are going to have knowledge of “science as a process”? I’ve often wished that peoples’ science education began with what it was and what it wasn’t, the reason that people invented science, to obtain more reliable knowledge of the physical universe, and that it doesn’t do anything else very well. Most importantly that it doesn’t work at all except when it is based in physical evidence. But they don’t and I’d never try to make a detailed attempt at persuasion on the basis of process. Look how difficult it has been to argue about scientific epistemology on the basis of even that fundamental aspect of process.

    I said “doctors in general”, not “all doctors”. Do not misquote. Also, you greatly overestimate the importance of the “anything else” other than the physical universe. To begin with, there is no such thing…

    I don’t think you’re going to be able to successfully divide the motives of the scientists who, using their scientific credentials – which they have as a result of their acceptance by other scientists — from the science. Someone once said that if bad religion is considered to still be religion then bad science is still science. Bad science has been accepted in the past taught and propogated in science — as gillt pointed out here the other day. Bad science has been the basis of medical treatments, for example, often in the form of dangerous medications which kill people and are recalled. Before it was rejected, by any realistic use of the word, it was science.
    I’m always shocked at how unaware of scientific processes some of its advocates are. If there is one thing that is obvious about the process of science, it is that it is done by people and only people and, try as you might, you can’t get past that origin as a part of the process. If you didn’t have that fact and science existed as the mythical pure, pristine search for truth things would be far different than they are, have been and there is every reason to expect they will continue to be. But that is a myth.

    Nobody is arguing that science exist as the “pure and pristine search for truth” that it would be so nice if it did. But you basically defeat your own arguments with this statement…

  57. DCW

    GM – What I am saying is, if you are expecting to gain something simply by pointing out to some denialist that they are wrong, you will fail. Not because you are wrong. The science community isn’t losing ground because of facts and the science. Yes, you have those. It’s because the science community doesn’t seem all that interested in understanding the public and what convinces them of things. It also requires understanding the media and figuring out how to work with and around them to get your message out. Confronting the denialists with facts will lead them running back to invent more non sequiturs. But the denialists are suckering you into making right and wrong arguments, while they are generally doing a better job at PR. The people don’t know how to value those arguments and so it just seems like 2 sides all the time. It’s no accident that the Discovery Institute is funded by political non-profits, that the ID movement was founded by a lawyer and the antivaxxers are led by an actress. I’ll bet the political consultants are all over the climate denialist movement as well. The pro-science movement needs to get real about turning its facts into a message that people understand. And that may mean hiring media, marketing and political consultants.

    Full disclosure: While I am interested in science, I am not a scientist. I’m a lawyer, and so I see things from a different perspective. The point being is, that a lot of lawyers are bad at PR and marketing but we get a ton of training at it because it’s so vital to what we do. Do scientists and doctors get this training, and do they even value PR (as a group – there are many notable exceptions, of course)?

  58. Anthony McCarthy

    I said “doctors in general”, not “all doctors”. Do not misquote. GM

    I know I’ve got lousy eyesight but I’ve looked three times and don’t see anywhere I said “all doctors”. Which makes your second sentence really odd. I’m not generally inclined to make those kinds of black and white statements unless I’m sure of it and I’m sure that there are many doctors whose knowledge of “processes of science” is quite adequate as are some scientists, Lewontin certainly being one.

    Also, you greatly overestimate the importance of the “anything else” other than the physical universe. To begin with, there is no such thing… GM

    If there is “no such thing” then it is indisputable that science is only able to study the physical universe, so we’re agreed on that. Why some who believe as you do regularly claim it can go farther than that, proceeding without physical evidence, is something you might want to consider.

    I’m not going to go into the many logical problems that dogmatic materialism creates by its stand, having done that many times over here and other places, but it is far from logical or scientific to declare that “there is no such thing” as if that was a matter of fact when it is an article of faith, at most, mere opinion, most often.

    Nobody is arguing that science exist as the “pure and pristine search for truth” GM

    I’ll bet that you could go on many a materialist’s blog and get viciously attacked for saying “science isn’t the search for the truth”. I’d leave “pure” and “pristine” out of it, the second one because it’s certain to get the regulars’ manly backs up.

    DCW, I’d suggest reading Ogilvy on Advertising, though I’m sure some of his advice is dated.

  59. John Kotcher

    @43

    GM,

    My point was not that ecologists and the “public” (although they are not a monolith) oppose GM technology for the same reasons. The point is that just as you don’t see a correlation between “knowledge of the facts” and support for a policy or technology, there also isn’t a correlation between understanding the “scientific process” and support for a particular policy or technology. With few exceptions, ecologists and molecular biologists both have a firm understanding of both the “facts” and the “scientific process”, yet they form different opinions on the use of GM technology because of their social background and training.

    John

  60. ThomasL

    Ian (@50)

    No, nothing about bad reporting surprises me. That could be because we used to laugh at how reporters presented things in court cases we were involved in – they really couldn’t know what was going on or the history because the cases were not public record and were under seal. The result was often quite humorous reporting…

    Even so, I asked for a link if you have one. Everything I am finding, including the current ongoing law suits filed by Nigeria, indicate at least 200 were adversely affected. Eleven died, that number seems consistent in all the reports, and “200” seems to be the agreed on number in the trial – but there seems to be a range of numbers for “affected” (likely just in the test) and “damaged” (likely left with long term negative health affects).

    Would appreciate seeing what info you are aware of that may be more accurate.

  61. GM

    59. John Kotcher Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 11:30 am
    @43
    GM,
    My point was not that ecologists and the “public” (although they are not a monolith) oppose GM technology for the same reasons. The point is that just as you don’t see a correlation between “knowledge of the facts” and support for a policy or technology, there also isn’t a correlation between understanding the “scientific process” and support for a particular policy or technology. With few exceptions, ecologists and molecular biologists both have a firm understanding of both the “facts” and the “scientific process”, yet they form different opinions on the use of GM technology because of their social background and training.59. John Kotcher Says:
    June 29th, 2010 at 11:30 am
    @43
    GM,
    My point was not that ecologists and the “public” (although they are not a monolith) oppose GM technology for the same reasons. The point is that just as you don’t see a correlation between “knowledge of the facts” and support for a policy or technology, there also isn’t a correlation between understanding the “scientific process” and support for a particular policy or technology. With few exceptions, ecologists and molecular biologists both have a firm understanding of both the “facts” and the “scientific process”, yet they form different opinions on the use of GM technology because of their social background and training.

    Who said that molecular biologists and ecologists form different opinions on the subject? I was explaining how they talk about different issues surrounding the subject; it doesn’t mean they do not agree on those. I am a molecular biologist and I am perfectly aware of the ecological arguments against it (which include a lot of molecular genetics, BTW) and I agree with them, although they only apply to some GM organisms, not the technology in general. The details matter

  62. If you can stand any more feedback on your Outlook piece, I wanted to say how profoundly accurate I think it is. My epiphanic moment in this regard was reading a story, I think in the ELI Forum, about Lisa Heinzerling, a Georgetown Law prof now working at EPA. Lisa has been among the leading writers in support of precautionary regulation and against any effort to try and assess regulation’s costs and benefits. (Her magnum opus is a book called “Priceless” — utterly torpedoed in my view by a review that Cass Sunstein published in the New Republic. (In the small world department, it turns out that she was a student of his at U of Chicago Law School, and now they interact regularly b/c she’s in charge of the policy/cost/benefit folks at EPA.)) In the interview, Heinzerling describes how she was not even particularly interested in environmental policy until she read Stephen Breyer’s “Breaking the Vicious Circle,” in which he confronts what he sees as the problem of “the last 10%,” in which regulators impose greater and greater costs to reduce smaller and smaller risks, without regard to the countervailing risks that this may create or the missed opportunities to reduce greater risks more cheaply. When I read his book I was bouncing up and down in agreement. When she read his book she was utterly horrified. I’ll stipulate that she’s a lot smarter than I am, but I’m pretty well-educated on this and other stuff. It’s just that we come at these issues from very different intuitive points of departure, and we have used the knowledge that we’ve encountered to build up intellectual structures on these very different foundations, rather than to dig up and reexamine the foundations themselves. Add in psychological phenomena like confirmation bias and it’s no surprise that more learning on a topic can actually make it harder to persuade someone intellectually. In fact, the more I ponder this, the more I think the amazing thing is that people DO sometimes come around and abandon considered views that they’ve previously maintained.

  63. he argued that we should “present science without demanding that nonscientists accept the scientific world view”

    I have a hard time understanding how anyone could take this claim seriously. The scientific world view is fundamental to accepting scientific findings. If anything, it should be turned around, and say that we should put less emphasis on simply presenting scientific findings and more on teaching people how think scientifically; that is, train them in having a scientific world view.

    The two obviously aren’t that easily separated, so I wouldn’t want anyone to take me too literally here. But my point is that to suggest setting aside the scientific world view is to set aside the very mindset that would actually help people make sense of the findings that are presented to them. Asimov is right–to do it any other way would be to present science as mysticism.

  64. Jolo5309

    I wasn’t big on Asimov or the other macho oriented sci-jocks. Especially the ones that read like the silliest of pop philosophy. I didn’t read Argosy magazine either. From that quote I’ve been scratching my head wondering how a pulp fiction writer could discount the necessity of communicating with the public so blatantly. Maybe he didn’t care about people who weren’t already in his fan base, sort of like the “skeptics” and the new atheists, if there’s any difference worth wasting a term on. It could explain why Asimov churned out the stuff like Velveeta Cheese.

    Asimov spent ten years on the staff of the Boston University of Medicine after he got his PhD in Biochemistry. He wrote popular science books for 25 years almost exclusively (1957-1982) but wrote about science books for almost his entire writing career. If he is a “pulp fiction writer” I would love to know your definition of a “real science writer”.

    As for Asimov being a “macho sci fi jock” you better define the term as your ignorance of what he wrote is blinding. Asimov’s main SF writing had a below normal amount of violence.

    Asimov wrote on physics, chemistry, biology and many others , I don’t think he ever had a problem communicating.

    I won’t get into your ignorance of what skeptics are…

  65. TB

    @Ian

    An entire chapter in Unscientific America addresses the problems with media. I recommend you read the book.
    “(as I type, we have an epidemic of whooping cough sweeping my state and vaccination here is free. If you go to the “University of Google” the top 5 hits for vaccine information in Australia is to anti-vaccination sites – any strategies for changing that?)”

    Did you know that Google has been working on a way to direct people to recognized experts on topics? Not an easy problem to solve, apparently, but at least they’ve acknowledged it’s a problem and are working toward solutions.

  66. Anthony McCarthy

    The scientific world view is fundamental to accepting scientific findings.

    James Hanley, there have been scientists who were also mystics. Eddington, who I’m studying in depth, was one, rather clearly. He addressed the issue of keeping religion and science separate, which he, obviously, succeeded in doing.

    But this attitude is liable to grate a little on the scientific mind, forcing its free spirit of inquiry into one predetermined mode of expression; and I do not think that the harmonising of the scientific and the religious outlook on experience is assisted that way. Perhaps our feeling on this point can be explained by a comparison . A business man may believe that the hand of Providence is behind his commercial undertakings as it is behind all vicissitudes of his life; but he would be aghast at the suggestion that Providence should be entered as an asset in his balance sheet. I think it is not irreligion but a tidiness of mind, which rebels against the idea of permeating scientific research with a religious implication.
    A. S. Eddington Science and the Unseen World

    Promoting a tidiness of mind, such a simple solution to the problem. And so unedifying for people whose real motive isn’t to solve a real problem

    There isn’t any reason for a scientist engaged in religion to be more in danger of polluting science with religion than there is one engaged in politics or business or professional rivalry to be in danger of that intruding on their work. In all three cases the dangers are far, far higher because, as has been pointed out here before, in order for any religion inserted into science, it would have to be noticed and UNDERSTOOD TO BE RELIGION. It would have no effect if it wasn’t understood that way.

    I think the refusal to address that point is evidence that most of this stuff is anti-religious prejudice, not the desire to protect science from superfluous intrusions. I’ll bet if Chris Mooney posted a piece about any of the other three being a danger to science it would be widely ignored by those who come here at the drop of an inference that the irrational anti-religious bigotry of a vocal segment of those who purport to represent science is a problem .

  67. Anthony McCarthy

    I forgot to say that Eddington’s career as a scientist is a bit more substantial than Asimov’s was. That would make him the more credible of the two on that issue.

  68. Ender

    Thanks Jolo, I was going to respond to that same comment but I couldn’t be bothered, you nailed it though, that was a dribblingly stupid assessment of Asimov. “Macho sci fi jock” indeed.

    I mean yes, he did write the three laws of Robotics ‘1) kill humans 2) blow shit up and 3) get the babe’, and yes his main characters were usually called things like R. Daneel McKickass, but really calling his writing ‘macho’ is like calling Jane Austen’s ‘aggressive’ or Dostoyevski’s ‘terse and to the point’

  69. Anthony McCarthy

    Ender, I guess we’ll have to disagree on whether or not Asimov’s writing is “macho” as to his being a sci-jock, I don’t really think that’s disputable. Not credibly or even dribblingly. I thought his stuff was pretty light weight as philosophy, but, then there are those who think that Heinlein was a deep thinker and a profound philosopher.

  70. Ender

    I suppose we might have to.

    I don’t know what you mean by “Sci-Jock”, if it’s related to Jock as in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jock_(athlete) then I definitely can’t agree – but I wouldn’t say that his work was heavyweight, it’s pretty pedestrianly or utilitarianly written, it’s no tome on philosophy and the human condition, so we agree there. Though it may not be unmitigated genius in that area his books do cover interesting topics such as what makes one a ‘human’ as the race evolves and changes.

    However, I think it’s pretty much indisputable that his writing was not ‘macho’ – his books were largely action and violence free explorations of logical tricks and the consequences of certain set ups – like how to find a robot who programming has been dangerously altered when it’s been ordered to “Get lost” and has done so among almost identical robots.
    I don’t know if you’re thinking of someone else, or a particular few books of his, but I honestly don’t see how you could come to the opinion that his books are macho in any way – can you give any examples?

  71. Anthony McCarthy

    Ender, I had a long discussion with my brother, who is a Sci-Fi reader, he told me that my opinion of Asimov’s machismo was probably more true of his early work, which is what of his that I read, than his late stuff. I don’t think that Susan Calvin is an especially well developed or healthy character, though he tells me some people think she’s proof of Asimov’s feminism.

    I do think that some of his assumptions are derived from a typically macho-tech orientation of the post war kind. I’ll admit he’s not Heinlein.

    I don’t find his writing or his stories compelling or his ideas especially convincing.

    I hadn’t known he’d died of AIDS related complex. Which was kind of surprising. It was a different world, one I’m all too familiar with.

    I still think that Simack and Le Guin are far more imaginative and interesting writers and that it’s pretty astonishing that someone who cranked out so much pulp would have been so unaware of the need to communicate with a public.

    Now, back to my pressing business.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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