Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, Middle East expert and high profile blogger has a piece on his site about whether and how scientists should engage environmental skeptics, in particular AGW deniers. His perspective is that we should and that it can be effective if done right but that there can be personal costs, e.g., hate mail and death threats. Also see the discussion at DotEarth about how scientists should respond and communicate. There are well argued points on both sides, or all sides, of the debate, but I am somewhat swayed by Randy Olsen’s arguments. Probably in part because he is a former coral reef ecologist and because I love his short films.
Okay. We’re wading into the core of what my book, “ Don’t Be Such a Scientist,” is about, so I’m going to give you a full reply. What you’ve written here is great, it’s accurate, it’s admirably dispassionate, but it’s also written with the assumption that the general public is a bunch of heartless robots. There comes a point where the public DOES want to see the science community stand up for themselves. My book is about the fact that there is more than just brains inside average folks — they also have hearts, guts and even sex organs. Did you see the “60 Minutes” segment a month ago with magician Ricky Jay who, when asked who would be his ideal audience for sleight of hand tricks, said it would be “scientists and Nobel Prize winners,” because they are the most easily fooled. This is increasingly the public image of the climate science community — a bunch of clumsy eggheads who can’t defend themselves. – Randy Olsen
Advice to Climate Scientists on how to Avoid being Swift-boated and how to become Public Intellectuals
By Juan Cole, see original post here