metamodernism metamodern magazine science and communications



By:  Jerome Day

Was there any doubt that politics plays a big part in scientific conversation?  No, not really, not since the Great Warming Debate.  The worry approaches when doubt is cast upon scientific consensus.  Science is normally and consistently neutral, for the most part, so the worry arises when science, as evidence-based is the main driver of public policy, and we all know who makes the policy decisions.

Deeper than the policy makers becoming influenced by lobbiests, modern swarm-minded ideas, fakenews, and such is the single thought of the power of one person added to another to another, to form a group with new consensus and  a new direction.  This is easily achieved. People are easily swayed by misstated facts, inflammatory dialogue and our modern social media fakenews and bully-mentality, thus allowing the present science, now a political frontier and expanding to be well within reach and possibly to sway in an entirely detrimental direction.

The means of thwarting this single-minded consensus, is proactive scientific communications, with communications as a means of neutral information and facts of truths, rather than conjecture, opinions or fake conclusions.

One means by which the worry of swaying the consensus into the political arena, is through newly available data mining.

An extremely interesting purchase fact from data-mining has shown that “Liberals prefer basic sciences, such as physics, astronomy and zoology, while conservatives prefer books on applied and commercial science, such as medicine, criminology and geophysics.  Even in disciplines that attract both conservative and liberal readers, such as social science and climatology, they typically cluster around different individual books—a reflection of political polarization within the sciences most relevant to public policy.” Cit UNC.

“Our study found that ‘blue’ readers prefer fields driven by curiosity and basic scientific concerns, such as zoology or anthropology, while ‘red’ readers prefer applied disciplines such as law and medicine, and with disciplines that patent more intensively,” said first author Feng Shi, a former postdoctoral scholar with Knowledge Lab, currently at the University of North Carolina. “One potential interpretation is that liberal readers prefer scientific puzzles, while conservative readers prefer problem-solving.”

“Our work adds urgency to the search for approaches to the communication of scientific information that counter selective exposures to ‘convenient truth’ and increase potential for science to inform political debate,” said Michael Macy, the Goldwin Smith Professor of Arts and Sciences and director of the Social Dynamics Laboratory at Cornell University. “Our findings point to the need to communicate scientific consensus when it occurs, helping scientists find common cause with their audiences and adding public debate alongside scientific analysis to clarify the distinction between facts and values.”