Magazine article American Scientist

From the President

Magazine article American Scientist

From the President

Article excerpt

Interpreting science to address social needs is one of Sigma Xi's most challenging functions, and our role in informing public policy, in particular, is growing. We aim to improve and go beyond the stereotypes of the science guru or the "horse whisperer" who speaks in special, interspecies language.

Decision makers, such as representatives in Congress and Parliament, expect to receive in context the technical knowledge that makes for better decisions. The context about which decision makers are concerned is not scientific: It is political and economic.

Contemporary studies of science policy begin with Roger A. Pielke Jr.'s book The Honest Broker (Cambridge University Press, 2007). The "honest broker" is expected to provide accurate, neutral, and contextualized knowledge in a way that the decision maker can understand without having a technical education or background. The Science and Technology Policy Fellowships from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) are based on this concept. The honest broker must always guard against abusing trust by insinuating personal opinion and conviction under the guise of strict objectivity, thereby becoming a "stealth advocate."

Even so, there is nothing wrong with science advocacy, as long as motives and opinions are not concealed and the debate is grounded in evidence. (Pielke does not make this clear in the book.) Advocacy informs the public sphere in policy development, expert legal testimony, program design, budget priorities, and risk management. Indeed, advocacy for a position or interpretation is how science itself moves forward. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.