[Coral-List] Science Governance
qdokken at gulfmex.org
Tue Jan 10 16:14:12 EST 2012
Well said Patricia. Sadly, in our society "good science" has a totally
different meaning in the public than within scientific circles. From my 30
years+ involvement in science I am confident in saying that the public
judges "good science" as science that produces the results "I" want to hear.
If it does not, it is obviously "bad science" conducted by conspirators
within the science community who are only looking for grants. In my career
I've worked with local, state, and federal public groups. I have seen them
ignore the science, hide the science, hide from the science, and vehemently
reject and ridicule the science with absolutely no basis or expertise on
which to do so.
I have never seen a scientists, team of scientists, or scientific entity
knowingly and intentionally set forth to produce bad science. I have seen
science compromised by inadequate funding, unrealistic time frames, election
cycles, party politics, and social and ideological pressures. And, yes,
following the principal of "survival of the fittest" scientists do seek
niches in which to work that avoids all of these pressures and limitations.
That is why space science is universally loved and supported, its conclusion
never lead to restrictions on what we humans can do.
On January 3rd Bill Allison included the following quote in his message:
"A former top bureaucrat in the Canadian civil service once gave me the
political perspective on this divide: scientists, he said, think too highly
of their own view of the world and fail to appreciate the complex,
multifarious nature of decision making. Our mistake is to think that science
will be given a privileged voice on an issue. This is almost always wrong.
>From a politician's point of view, science is an interest group like any
This may be the most telling comment in this whole line of discussion.
Science and scientists are just another "interest group," and one without
money; also, an interest group that is prone to in-fighting and functions as
individuals rather than a collective group. This quote also underscores the
fact that politicians don't really understand the purpose of science; and,
in the case of natural resource science believe the natural environment can
be compromised infinitely and any impacts that are undesirable can be
engineered back to acceptable conditions.
The solution, keep legitimate scientific conclusions and facts in the public
eye. The presentation may not always be perfect, but it is usually better
than complete silence.
Thank you Gene and others who keep the ugly realities before us. We can't
address them if we choose to ignore them.
Quenton R. Dokken, PhD
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
PMB 51 5403 Everhart Rd.
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
3833 South Staples
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
1-800-884-4175 toll free
qdokken at gulfmex.org
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Patricia Warner
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 1:30 PM
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science Governance
I am not yet a professional scientist, but as one in training there seems to
be quite clear guidelines for what constitutes good science, and most
scientists are more or less aware of them. At least, my understanding is
that being able to critically evaluate science is one of the major
justifications for our studies. Of course, these somewhat silent
regulations are only as useful as the scientists who choose to practice them
and/ or uphold them through the peer-review system. It is not a perfect
arrangement. It can be abused, neglected and manipulated, corrupted just as
any human institution. And, while the web has rapidly increased the amount
and dissemination of information, we cannot control whether that information
is good or bad, accurate or not. We cannot control who accesses what
information, or how they use it. Yet, at the same time, it gives me some
hope that the same medium allows for constructive communication and
discussions through blogs and listservs such as this. The major problem is
not that we lack a framework for recognizing good and bad science, but that
there is so much science being generated now that is impossible for any one
person to critically evaluate it or even read it all. Moreover, instead of
a single "governing" body with universal authority to decide what is good or
bad, we have a diverse and widespread network of journals, academic
institutions, and other research institutions that spread the responsibility
and balance the risk of entrusting truth to any one source.
At the same time, it seems to me that the most egregious corruption of
science comes not from scientists themselves, but from the media whom you
mentioned in your post. At least in the US, many media providers continue
to misreport facts and twist science in ways that we have absolutely no
control over. Although so many look to them for accurate reporting of the
truth, misguided as they may be, the media are not upheld to any standard of
truth that I can understand. There is no obligate fact-checking or
regulation of what they report, all under the auspices of the 1st Amendment
to the Constitution of the United States, and it seems that even lies are
protected by the ideal of free speech. Some of this reporting that seems so
inaccurate to scientists may be basically harmless modifications to
translate science into a more public-friendly format, e.g. as discussed in
recent "60 Minutes" posts. And, we have to make some concessions if we have
any desire to communicate effectively to the public. On the other hand,
there are many more sinister instances of direct misinformation and/ or
inflating or inventing controversies that should not be acceptable to us as
scientists, to a responsible and reliable media, and especially to the
From: RainbowWarriorsInternational <southern_caribbean at yahoo.com>
To: Ulf Erlingsson <ceo at lindorm.com>, Steve Mussman <sealab at earthlink.net>,
Coral Listserver Listserver <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Cc: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Date: Tue, 10 Jan 2012 07:27:20 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Don't be such a scientist This year at the Rio
plus 20 conference (
http://www.uncsd2012.org/rio20/index.html) important issues need to be
addressed, and in particular we need to look back at the twenty years that
have passed and determine what progress has been made.
In the last twenty years the theme of "governance" has popped up in
virtually every human endeavor and in varying ways set standards, rules and
regulation for detecting and correcting substandard performance, and
policing bad procedures and practices.
I find it conspicuously lacking though in the scientific realm.
It would be fairly simple to come up with the ground rules of what
constitutes good science and then explain in simple layman's terms how to
check for it.
In the end good science is all about about the truth as perceived by the
eyes of the beholder, often times the press.
Governance for science like governance for good government is all about
frameworks of reference that make sense and are indisputable.
Once these are in place, even detecting and pointing out bad/biased
reporters becomes a simpler task.
Coral-List mailing list
Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
More information about the Coral-List