Speaker: KEITH KLOOR, Freelance Journalist; DAN HICKS, Philosopher of Science and AAAS Fellow.
Confronting Scientific Controversies: Do Facts Matter?
There are a lot of reasons why people might reject an established scientific finding, or overstate scientific support for dubious claims. Economic interests might be at play when an oil company questions climate science. A belief that large agricultural corporations are evil could cause an activist to overstate the dangers of genetically modified crops. Varying conceptions of risk might lead a parent to distrust a pediatrician on the benefits of vaccination.
But point out this distortion and misinformation at your own risk! In science journalism, topics like genetically modified organisms, climate change, and vaccines have become so controversial that reporting on them can endanger one’s career. How have we gotten here? What are the consequences of such a toxic situation? What deeper disagreements are at play in these scientific controversies? Will understanding them help society address these broader issues?
Based on their feature essays in the Winter 2017 Issues in Science and Technology, science reporter Keith Kloor and philosopher of science and AAAS Fellow Daniel J. Hicks have some useful answers to these critical questions. For our next CSPO Conversations event, join us as they discuss the perils and necessity of confronting scientific controversies head-on.