July 14, 2012
Lippmann's thoroughgoing pessimism may lead us to a better understanding of the role of communication in public deliberations between scientists and citizens.
"Responsible" advocacy is still advocacy. To be good, it should be zealous. But zeal undermines scientific authority. So advising, not advocating, should be the speech act of choice.
Scientists can earn trust--but only by making themselves vulnerable.
Experts have methods for earning the trust of lay audiences--but using their authority is costly. I explain how.
Principal-agent theory can help us understand some of the reasons we may have for distrusting experts--and how that distrust can be addressed.
What do four eminent experts in sustainable agriculture think of their roles in policy-making? And what communication strategies do they understand they have to fulfill those roles?
"Consensus" as the strategy selected by scientists associated with the IPCC--a poor rhetorical choice.
In a close textual analysis of a short debate, I show how an outstanding scientist is unable to simultaneously exert his authority and to advocate effectively--especially when up against an outstanding advocate on the other side.
We don't trust Wikipedia because we're confident that the collective of editors know stuff. We trust Wikipedia because the Wikipedians love it.
Even under favorable conditions, evidence-based technical arguments become transformed into appeals to expert authority when they enter the public sphere.
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