[Coral-List] Science and advocacy

Nasseer Idrisi nidrisi at live.uvi.edu
Sun Jul 22 10:04:03 EDT 2012

So Alina got me thinking:
When a scientist applies to an agency or foundation for grant funding, we
are advocating: 'my idea is great, gimme money, pleaseŠ'
When a scientist submits a manuscript for publication, we are advocating:
'my idea is great, publish me, pleaseŠ'
In this process we are evaluated by peers in the field and we take the
evaluations/criticisms seriously and re-evaluate our own ideas in order to
make our ideas more refined.
However, when we advocate in the social realm by saying 'my idea is great,
listen to me!', we don't take too kindly to criticism by our social peers.
We should listen as well as talk. Before this string of emails on
coral-list on Science and Advocacy, I strongly felt that a scientist
entering the realm of 'social advocacy' is no longer an objective
scientist. Now, my thoughts are changing - I think if we apply our
scientific training to think about ecosystems, human systems, economic
systems, etcŠ, it is possible to be a scientist, an advocate and remain
objective at the same time. Preaching a doomsday scenario is
counterproductive, in my view. I think working with those with different
views. Why can't policy makers come to a consensus on climate change
issues, increased human population and managing reducing resources ?
Because there are still flaws in the way we think and 'advocate'. First
step: Listen.

On 7/20/12 1:29 PM, "Szmant, Alina" <szmanta at uncw.edu> wrote:

>I'd like to point out that the premier basic science funding agency in
>the US, The National Science Foundation, has two major criteria for
>funding projects:  intellectual merits (how novel, creative, etc is the
>science proposed), and broader impacts:  Directly from NSF's 'mouth' but
>I bolded the two bottom bullets:
>Broader Impacts Criterion: What are the broader impacts of the proposed
>* How well does the activity advance discovery and understanding while
>teaching, training and learning?
>* How well does the proposed activity  broaden the participation of
>underrepresented groups (e.g., gender, ethnicity, disability, geographic,
>* To what extent will it enhance the infrastructure for research and
>education, such
>as facilities, instrumentation, networks and partnerships? 2
>* Will the results be disseminated broadly to enhance scientific and
>* What may be the benefits of the proposed activity to society?
>I believe that the kinds of discussions we have been experiencing on
>Coral List can fall under these latter descriptions.
>Dr. Alina M. Szmant
>Professor of Marine Biology
>Center for Marine Science and Dept of Biology and Marine Biology
>University of North Carolina Wilmington
>5600 Marvin Moss Ln
>Wilmington NC 28409 USA
>tel:  910-962-2362  fax: 910-962-2410  cell: 910-200-3913
>-----Original Message-----
>From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Shortfin
>Mako Shark
>Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 12:39 PM
>To: Glazer, Bob; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science and advocacy
>No one uses the term censorship; however, everything is "filtered"
>including the way the media reports the news. If you are unaware, almost
>every federal agency in the U.S has their own legal Counsel. Their job is
>to ensure that agency documents follow the law. Often the language in
>those documents is revised based on legal review. I don't have to tell
>you that some agency documents are considered classified. Is that
>censorship? Censorship happens every day and in ever part of our life.
>Depending on the situation, there are "gag" rules in place for agency
>staff. Many folks have been replaced for not following the rules. Its
>just part of democracy. Science and advocacy is a weird dynamic.
>This email and its attachments may be confidential and are intended
>solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any views
>or opinions expressed are solely those of the author. If you are not the
>intended recipient of this email and its attachments, you must take no
>action based upon them, nor must you copy or show them to anyone. Please
>contact the sender if you believe you have received this email in error.
>From: "Glazer, Bob" <Bob.Glazer at MyFWC.com<mailto:Bob.Glazer at MyFWC.com>>
>>"coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>"
>><coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa..gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa..gov>>
>>Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 12:02 PM
>>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science and advocacy
>>The alternative on this list to advocacy is censorship.  I prefer
>>Robert Glazer
>>Associate Research Scientist
>>Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Fish and Wildlife
>>Research Institute
>>2796 Overseas Highway, Ste. 119
>>Marathon, FL 33050 USA
>>bob.glazer at myfwc.com<mailto:bob.glazer at myfwc.com>
>>-----Original Message-----
>>coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.ao
>>[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]<mailto:[mailto:coral-list
>>-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]> On Behalf Of Steve
>>Sent: Friday, July 20, 2012 9:19 AM
>>To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science and advocacy
>>  It is most certainly hyperbole to claim that the coral list has been
>>  over by advocacy groups. But the question remains as to how
>>  are supposed to "advocate for appropriate application of the science
>>  produce" without fear of threats and accusations of impropriety.
>>After all
>>  scientists, although highly trained to be impartial, seem commonly
>>  with all the frailties of human nature.
>>  And how many pinches of salt must be taken if the private sector
>>comes to
>>  dominate future research funding? The only way to offset the likely
>>  would  be  to  envision  the  unlikely  prospect of the "fortresses
>>  conservation",
>>  university  professors and government agencies armed with the level
>>  resources
>>  required to adequately face the challenge.
>>  -----Original Message-----
>>  >From: Quenton Dokken
>>  >Sent: Jul 19, 2012 4:48 PM
>>  >To: 'Magnus Johnson' ,
>>coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
>>  >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science and advocacy
>>  >
>>  >I agree with Magnus, Gene does not owe anyone an apology. Scientists
>>  >walk a fine line between detached scientific investigation and
>>advocacy.. I
>>  >do believe that scientists should protect their data and conclusions
>>  >those who would distort the facts and truth of their scientific
>>  >investigations. They should advocate for appropriate application of
>>  >science they produce. On the other hand, they must be disciplined
>>enough to
>>  >not be stampeded by the emotions surrounding any issue.
>>  >
>>  >The issue of bias based on funding is a discussion that will never go
>>  >The fact is that there is not adequate funds to conduct all the
>>  >investigations that need to occur. And, there is a loud voice in the
>>  >saying that funds should be cut from the already inadequate research
>>  >(i.e. the smaller government team)! And, universities keep turning
>>out more
>>  >young scientist to compete for the funds that do exist. I believe
>>that the
>>  >private sector will fund more and more research in the future.
>>  >
>>  >Quenton
>>  >
>>  >Quenton R. Dokken, PhD
>>  >President/CEO
>>  >Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.
>>  >
>>  >Mail:
>>  >PMB 51 5403 Everhart Rd.
>>  >Corpus Christi, TX 78411
>>  >
>>  >Office:
>>  >3833 South Staples
>>  >Suite S-214
>>  >Corpus Christi, TX 78411
>>  >
>>  >361-882-3939 office
>>  >361-882-1260 fax
>>  >361-442-6064 cell
>>  >1-800-884-4175 toll free
>>  >
>>  >qdokken at gulfmex.org<mailto:qdokken at gulfmex.org>
>>  >http://www.gulfmex.org/
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >-----Original Message-----
>>  >From: 
>>coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.ao
>>>[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]<mailto:[mailto:coral-lis
>>>t-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov]> On Behalf Of Magnus
>>  >Sent: Thursday, July 19, 2012 7:12 AM
>>  >To: 
>>coral-list at coral..aoml.noaa..gov<mailto:coral-list at coral..aoml.noaa...gov
>>  >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Science and advocacy
>>  >
>>  >I don't think Gene does owe the list an apology, I've seen a fair
>>bit of
>>  >advocacy on this list but that doesn't make it a bad list.. I'm not
>>  >sure it's very easy to separate science and advocacy. People
>>  >scientists) like to think that scientists are geeky or spock-like
>>  >logical). Many that I know are deeply passionate about their topic
>>and the
>>  >environment - especially those drawn to dolphins, coral reefs and
>>  >
>>  >I don't mind advocacy, as long as its backed up by facts and it is
>>  who
>>  >is funding the advocate. E.g. if you are funded by Pew, WWF or
>>  >or similar "Fortress Conservation" type organisations I'll probably
>>  >what you say with a pinch of salt. If you are a university professor
>>  >government employee, I'll take a smaller pinch of salt.
>>  >
>>  >Cheers, Magnus
>>Coral-List mailing list
>>Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov<mailto:Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
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