Science Publisher Calls for Better Communication—But Not of Science

by E. Calvin BeisnerCornwall Alliance

Alan Leshner is worried. It seems scientists are having a hard time getting the public to understand science, and since “Public understanding of science … contributes to the extent of support for scientific research,” something must be done.

Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Executive Publisher of its flagship publication, Science, wrote in a recent editorial, “There is no shortage of topics where policy-makers or other members of the public seem to persistently misunderstand, misrepresent, or disregard the underlying science: climate change, genetically modified foods, vaccines, or evolution, among others.”

Well, I guess two out of four isn’t too bad. I imagine his and my understandings of GMO and vaccines are reasonably alike. But on climate change and (naturalistic macro-) evolution (not to oversimplify and distort), I suspect his conclusions and mine differ dramatically—and I have a feeling that, in question-begging style, he assumes that my conclusions are wrong and his are right, and what’s needed is for him and other scientists to help me understand the science better.

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