Heard at The Conversation: Enough with the “war on science” rhetoric!

A group of communications profs says it has the opposite of its intended effect:

National Geographic’s March 2015 cover story provided a thoughtful discussion around the question of “Why Do Many Reasonable People Doubt Science?” The actual cover, however, simply said “The War on Science.”

That article never actually uses the term “war on science” but claiming the existence of a such a conflict has become quite common.

There are books to tell readers “who’s waging it,” “why it matters,” and “what we can do about it” and many opinion articles and editorials in reputable publications describing its battles. …

… our new research suggests that Americans may see scientists’ choice to accuse conservatives of waging a “war on science” as relatively aggressive compared to potential alternative ways of describing the current situation. In turn, this perceived aggressiveness may harm the credibility of scientists in conservative audiences that already have doubts about them. John C. Besley et al., “Calling it a ‘war on science’ has consequences” at The Conversation

Well yes, of course. For one thing, it takes no very wide reading to discover that there are huge problems right now with the way research is conducted and evaluated. Check out Retraction Watch.

Despite that, silly studies are done and publicized as to why the public supposedly doesn’t trust science, as if some benefit would be gained if we trusted what often doesn’t sound trustworthy, and turns out not to be.

Toning down the rhetoric might at least suggest a willingness to listen.

Prediction, alas: Our communications profs will discover, soon enough, that the rhetoric is mostly not aimed at solving the problem but at making the people indulging in it feel superior. It is likely to continue because it will continue to make them feel good.

See also: From Chemistry World: Forensic science is “in crisis”

A study of the causes of science skepticism sails right by the most obvious cause of skepticism: Repeated untrustworthiness

and

Which side will atheists choose in the war on science? They need to re-evaluate their alliance with progressivism, which is doing science no favours.

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