Tag: science

Selling science sustainably

Reflect No Comments

The New Scientist magazine offers some interesting observations on the recent debate about climate change science in its lead editotrial (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527492.500-honesty-is-the-best-policy-for-climate-scientists.html) and main article (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20527493.700-can-we-trust-the-ipcc-on-the-big-stuff.html?full=true). These:

– reaffirm the basic conclusions of the science on the causes of climate change

– propose sustainability as the big overarching theme of our time (of which climate is a part)

– warn  against an ‘anti-human stance’

– insist that the scientific and public debate should be balanced with all evidence given fair weighing and treatment (and that doom mongering has the opposite effect to that desired by those who do it)

– highlight that governments wanting detailed forecasts of the possible impacts on their own countries has led to many questionable forecasts of what climate change will lead to (especially short-term over the next 10-20 years)

– take a positive view of the Earth’s ‘nine lives’  in being able to accommodate mankind (even though the article points out that three of the boundaries have been crossed already).

It’s a shift from a lot of the positioning and language around selling the science of climate change and sustainability that has been to the fore over the last few years.

Most of the thinking around helping humans change (whether as individuals or for organisational life) stress the need both to understand what is really going on now and to find a positive way to plan for the future.

It’s a message for us all in everything we do to be honest about what we know, what we don’t know, what we think might happen and what we can start to do to make things different.

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The scientific method: for AND against

Think No Comments

In our liberal, rational society there can be a tendency to “Science – good, other views – bad.”  But what is science?  For us it combines pursuing understanding through observation while suspending personal values.  The scientific process identifies a hypothesis and seeks predicted data for AND against it.  If it stands up to all or some scrutiny then things are getting clearer.  Even disproof is progress.

During the last month we have had The Scientist vs The Government (Professor Nutt vs Alan Johnson on Cannabis), and The Scientists vs The Sceptics (on Climate).  Looking in on these debates, it is not clear how far good scientific method is at work all the time.  If it isn’t, then poor process opens the way for other belief systems (public opinion about weed, economic risk assessments of climate reduction).  Just claiming to be ‘a scientist’ is in no way sufficient to demonstrate that your thinking is superior to that of others.  Showing openness of mind in pursuit of knowledge is.

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