Warmie Doc: "Offer Up Scary Scenarios"
On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage.Did he get bashed down for that by his scientific peers? No way -- here's a quote from five years later:
So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. (source)
"Is the 'scientific advocate' an oxymoron?" asked climate scientist Stephen Schneider at a May 4 "Ethics at Noon" seminar. "Twenty years ago, the answer would have been a resounding 'yes.' " Now, he says, there is more tolerance -- but only up to a point. ...You betcha ... but remember, the global warming debate is over. We know this is true because objective, serious white-coat guys like Schneider have told us so.
"Being an advocate is not cost free," Schneider said. "Many members of the political world assume that you are doing what they do: deliberately suppressing countervailing evidence. The world will assume that what you say colors the fact side of the argument: the very scientific work you do."
Related Tags: Global warming, Stephen Schneider