Latest Bridges Column

September 28th, 2006

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

The latest issue of Bridges a publication of the Office of Science and Technology of the Austrian Embassy in Washington, DC, is now online. As always Bridges provides a wide range of interesting and stimulating essays and discussions. In particular, Stefan Kalt’s column on Heidegger and technology is especially interesting.

My column in this issue is titled “Self-Segregation of Scientists by Political Predispositions” and can be found online here and as a podcast here (and regular Prometheus readers will see that it draws on several earlier discussions on our blog – thanks to all who contributed!). My essay ends with some specific recommendations for scientists — I think along the lines specifically asked for by Judy Curry recently in the comments. As always, we welcome your feedback and comments.

6 Responses to “Latest Bridges Column”

  1. Sean D Says:

    Nice article Roger. Perhaps you could also give advice for an extra case in which one is

    “concerned about the pathological politicization of your area of science, particularly in situations where there is a diversity of legitimate political/policy debate (but not legitimate scientific debate).”

    As you might guess, the scenario I’m refering to is AGW.

    What do you suggest for scientists who, given the potentially nasty landscape of a ‘politicized science’, want to stay above the fray?

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  3. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:

    Sean D.-

    Thanks. You ask, “What do you suggest for scientists who, given the potentially nasty landscape of a ‘politicized science’, want to stay above the fray?”

    Half seriously, consider a career in condensed matter physics or some other less politicized area. On climate change, there is no “above the fray” which is why it is so improtant for scientists in this area to understand science in its broader context.


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  5. Jim Clarke Says:

    Sean D,

    I can appreciate your perspective of the science of AGW, namely that there is no legitimate scientific debate, but there is always the chance that the IPCC is not totally wrong!

    Not likely, but possible! :)

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  7. Lab Lemming Says:

    Good points, but I think you underestimate the magnitude of the problem described in this quote:

    “With the exception of The New York Times, the statement has been almost completely ignored by the major media and advocacy groups. This is not surprising, as many would rather use scientists for their own narrow purposes, which often depend on the presence of political conflict rather than consensus. ”

    If resreachers observe that forming non-partisan science-based groups has the same (non-existant) impact of remaining silent, then they will be tempted to let themselves be used by partisans in the hopes that a twisted message is better than none at all.

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  9. Roger Pielke, Jr. Says:


    Thanks. Actually I’d argue that the non-partisan groups have historically had far greater policy impact. Consider the US NRC as a good example — is there any body whose work has had more policy influence? The problem is when such groups try to use their legitimacy to force particular outcomes. Rather than forcing aprticular outcomes, this diminishes their legitimacy. See recent discussion of this point on the blog — search for Starobin and Allenby! Thanks!

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  11. Lab Lemming Says:

    At the other extreme of scientific politicalization, do you think that scientists turned politicians (e.g Dr. Rush Holt, D-NJ-12) have had much impact?