Finding your place on the science – advocacy continuum: an editorial essay
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- Donner, S.D. Climatic Change (2014) 124: 1. doi:10.1007/s10584-014-1108-1
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The late founder of this journal, Stephen Schneider, argued that climate scientists must find the right balance between being honest about the limits of our knowledge and being effective in communicating the risks that climate change poses to society. The worlds of science and communications have changed dramatically in the years since Schneider first described this “double ethical bind”. Yet for most scientists, the core challenge of public communication remains. How do we choose between what we perceive as science – being honest – and what we perceive as advocacy – being effective? This essay suggests that scientists should view science and advocacy as opposite ends of a continuum with many possible positions. Drawing upon findings from psychology, communications, and science and technology studies, I describe how scientists can use research and critical self-analysis to be “scientific” about public engagement and to choose a suitable place for themselves on the science-advocacy continuum.