The right reasons for mistrusting science
Sam J Wong

The main problem with citing numbers like “97% of climate scientists agree on global warming” or various other statements that require someone to trust in science is that these are appeals to authority. Appeals to authority are logical fallacies.

Telling someone “97% of scientists believe X, so you should, too” is not a good argument. Telling someone why 97% of scientists believe X is a good argument. This is why I prefer to explain global warming or talk about how the politics surrounding GMO foods muddles the scientific arguments about them.

This is science communication and, while I am an amateur at it, I think it is better than repeating arguments or citing scientific consensus as an authority. This is also what you have done here, though I think the simple truth is logical fallacies don’t work to convince people, especially when you’re appealing to authorities they see as lesser than god or politicians or successful business leaders, or that they see as compromised by political bias.

I’m of the opinion that science communication is woefully underfunded and that professional scientists have virtually no training in science communication. As someone getting a Ph.D. right now, you would know better than I, but, I also studied science, and neither I nor anyone I know even had much of an option for formal training in science communication, much less a requirement for such. And I have talked before about what a pittance science communication represents in terms of the budget of groups like NASA or the NIH.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Medium’s own Ethan Siegel aren’t going to be able to win this war against disinformation on their own, or with the relatively small number of largely unfunded science communicators out there. It is going to take scientists acknowledging that science, itself, is under assault from retrograde political forces, and realizing that they have a part to play in sustaining science that goes beyond just research and practice, that extends to science communication.

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