Communicating Diversity in Science: Implications for Climate Change Denial

Saturday, February 19, 2011: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
147A (Washington Convention Center )
Evidence from numerous scientific disciplines has painted what should be a convincing picture of anthropogenic climate change (ACC). Yet, well-funded and organized campaigns have managed to undermine public confidence. This symposium discusses how contrarians are often given false credibility on ACC because science communication rarely addresses the methodological diversity that exists in science. The public instead hears scientists speak of “the” scientific method and “the” way that science works. This misconception of science being homogeneous creates a situation where scientists are considered an authority on almost any scientific topic. Rather than portraying a single approach to science, emphasizing its methodological diversity might better communicate the key idea that scientists are not knowledgeable about all of science. The public might be more inclined to believe in ACC if they only listened to scientists from the field who do the day-to-day work and understand the complexities -- such as from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Panelists will combine insights from the history and philosophy of science, rhetoric and communication, climate science, and science reporting to show how methodological diversity in science should affect ACC communication. By leveraging this expertise, the symposium will help advance both climate and general science literacy.
Prajwal Kulkarni, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth
Naomi Oreskes, University of California
Of Mavericks and Mules
Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
Between Sound Bites and the Scientific Paper: Communicating in the Hinterland
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