Thursday, January 19, 2012

More Hulme

"There is an increasing appreciation, both among scientists and among the public, of the contingent factors of personal belief, cultural context and institutional arrangements, which influence the way scientific knowledge is established. Somewhere in between science as the sublime discovery of absolute truth -- a purely positivist reading of science -- and science as a hopelessly subjective activity  -- a purely constructivist mentality -- is a more nuanced understanding of what science can do and what it can't do and a deeper understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge. Essential to this new understanding is an appreciation of scientific uncertainty. Far from being able to eliminate uncertainty, science -- especially climate science -- is more useful to society with it finds good ways of recognizing, managing and communicating uncertainty."

-- Mike Hulme, Why We Disagree About Climate Change (2009), Ch. 3


Steve Bloom said...

So let's see, Hulme wants to emphasize uncertainty even while Andy Revkin is convinced that there'a no way to effectively communicate such things to the public. So the answer is for science to tie itself in knots trying?

For a scientist, Hulme makes a pretty good theologian, although his Christian scruples didn't prevent him from trying to throw Phil Jones under a bus.

Providentially, Mike is a second-rate researcher with little clout, and his rhetorical skills don't seen to have gotten him anywhere. I'm surprised you find anything he says interesting enough to quote.

Dano said...

Steve, I'm not down in the weeds any more so maybe I was able to see what he was saying.

There are different ways of knowing in a non-homogenous population, and not everyone receives communication the same way. Again, it comes down to either teaching all science students how to communicate, or making a 'science communication' track available at Unis. IMHO. But also IMHO it may be too late, as the bad people figured out how to communicate their FUD long ago.