Chris Mooney on scientific scepticism

"[E]mphasizing scientific complexities is actually counter-productive: all the caveats and 'uncertainties' make the public think...that the cause of the problem is somehow still in doubt."

- Chris Mooney, writing in Seed

Although it's popular to blame media misrepresentation or denialist spin doctors for the public's failure to grasp the seriousness of climate change quickly enough, Mooney thinks the culprit is primarily scientists themselves. Too often, he points out, they overestimate the understanding and prior knowledge of their audience, or "simply state the facts, and let the winds of political fury carry them away".

The time has come for scientists to stop "passively accept[ing] the ongoing translational failures"; instead, Mooney argues that we need to treat scientific communication itself as a subject of research, so that the most effective way to transmit science to the public can be discovered empirically.

While the piece focuses on climate change, the sentiment could apply to any contentious, complicated scientific debate including evolution and stem cell research.

You can read the entire article here.