The US President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology call out the importance of effective engagement for a thriving society
P.S. Thanks to the cross-promo of Andy Revkin for alerting me to your post!
With emphasis on this point of yours, Andrew: "And it’s there because it marks a shift in emphasis from assuming that public value will naturally arise from science and technology, to realizing that this will only happen through intentional two-way engagement with key communities." And, just simply understanding that so many folks who have climate influence are not connecting that last bit: making findings, leadership, momentum visible and accessible. As a non-academic who is really interested in learning from them, it sure does seem like scientists and academics have been isolating themselves. That's why I have so appreciated the climate scientists who've been brave enough to be on (argh, and stay on) social platforms these past few years. While not exactly the same thing, I relate this need for engagement/making work accessible to broader audiences to my focus on progressive corporate and political leaders. The ones with the most impact and leadership social norm-shifting potential are those who have opened themselves up to engaging on platforms like Tw/X in the past and maybe more on LinkedIn now. From a media coverage point, too, whether scientist/academic or corporate/political leader: by making yourself more involved in constructive conversations (we can all try!) on social media, you also indicate to media - including podcast hosts looking for well-aligned guests - that you are comfortable in more open discussion and in more honest engagement. The potential for a lot more professionals, in a range of sectors, to get more visible by contributing/engaging rather than standing up on some platform broadcasting messages, is *massive* for our climate cause.
You write, "And yet, as I explore in the book chapter above, they all too often face an uphill struggle as the developers of new technologies tout the importance of public engagement in the abstract, but strenuously resist it in practice."
There is a solution to this problem. But it probably won't come in the form of reason and dialog.
More likely, the solution will come in the form of pain, a much more effective learning methodology.
As example, after 75 years there is no evidence that reason and dialog will ever rid the world of nuclear weapons. If there is a solution to that existential threat, it will probably arrive in the form of some dramatic real world event which galvanizes public attention on the perils or providing ourselves with more power than we can handle. We see this problem already intellectually, in the abstract, but it will take events, not logic, to make the threat real to us.
As example, climate change is currently in the process of making this migration from intellectual analysis to real understanding, thanks to dramatic, tangible real world events such a firestorms which everyone can easily understand.
A few months ago I had the opportunity for discussion with a well known scientist here on Substack, about a letter 1,000 scientists had signed regarding the civilization ending threat presented by nuclear weapons. The letter is clear evidence of the good intentions of many in the science community.
I responded with this article...
...which suggested that while letters are good, after 75 years we should accept the evidence that they are utterly ineffective. So if the science community and the rest of us are serious about nuclear weapons we need a new strategy. What is needed are not more statements of concern, but leverage. And so I suggested scientists could stage a series of strikes to impress upon the public and politicians that they are indeed serious about nuclear weapons.
The well known scientist I was conversing with immediately informed me that there was zero chance of scientists interrupting their work for any reason, including nuclear weapons. And he was right.
The underlying problem is that both we in the public, and the science community, are deluded in thinking that the status quo can continue indefinitely. And from within that delusion, there is little motivation for real dialog.
Your article seems very articulate and well intended. But honestly, I have little hope that the science community will ever willingly embrace any process which doesn't support ever more science without limit, no matter the consequence.
Scientists aren't bad people, and they typically have the best of intentions. But their relationship with knowledge is dogmatic, much in the way some people relate to their chosen religion. They're clinging to a 19th century "more is better" relationship with knowledge, in part because in that story they are the heroes.
Our current era might be compared to the Enlightenment period of 500 years ago. The blind faith the people of that time had in the Church was gradually undermined. And a new cultural authority, the science community, arose to displace the Church at the heart of society. And today the science community suffers from much of the same stubborn blindness that caused the Church to lose it's dominant position 500 years ago.
What has confused all of us is that while science community is truly brilliant at doing science, the philosophy their impressive work is built upon is at least a century out of date. And they don't know that.
I've been reading and writing about this for years and engage any scientist that will talk to me for as long as they are willing. What I've learned is that the science community doesn't want a real two way mutual learning conversation with we the public. Their vision is that they will be the teacher, and we will be the students, a one way conversation.