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Geoethics and Communication 1. Scientists, Politicians, Journalists, Media Entertainers, Sociologists: Can Ethics Help to Establish Their Exact Role in Communicating Geoscience?

Abstract

The purposes of communication range from simple transmission of information to motivation of people to act, to giving advises, suggesting actions or, in particular circumstances, even giving orders and directions. Often any of these targets needs intermediate steps, with the distinct or integrated intervention of more “experts” or communicators, but generally speaking these aims are independent and achieved separately. In either cases for each aspect there is an “expert” who has the knowledge, the experience and possibly the power to carry out the relative duty. Boundaries must be then designated to make sure that any speaker deals with his/her own expertise and does not interfere with the others’. Failures in doing this turn in a bad-incomplete-ineffective-inaccurate or even wrong communication. The recent grow of interest of the public towards Geoscience increased the need for information and, as a consequence, the episodes of bad communication. In this presentation I discuss whether ethics may represent a tool to fix boundaries between spokesmen and be used to avoid interferences. The subject is complicated by the nature of ethics, that applies to the moral and not to the rational behaviour; but there are other aspects that render the discussion intricate, including the different principles of ethics for every kind of communicator and the fact that the concept of ethics, and its principles, must be flexible (since it somewhat depends on the circumstances). The results of the analysis described here can be briefly summarized as follows. The fundamental principles of ethics would probably be enough for distinguishing an appropriate conduct and achieve a fair communication; unfortunately the personal expectations, the fear to appear unprepared, the desire for greater visibility and the unconscious will to be more helpful than the situation would require make communicators to fail some of their ethical obligations. Moreover, the emergency conditions, the difficulty of having available many speakers from different fields, the strict time for communication, the pressing demands of the media make much more difficult to strictly follow the ethical principles. In my view, the main deviation from ethics is when the speaker expresses personal opinions; this is quite normal for a scientist presenting his/her study within a workshop or a scientific meeting, but becomes dangerous when presented in public. It is even unfair for journalists or politicians. It becomes very harmful if uttered from media entertainers. And, above all, this failure affects one of the main obligations common to all ethics, a sort of root of moral behaviour, that is to ensure impartiality.

Keywords

  • Geoethics
  • Communication
  • Media

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Fig. 10.1

References

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  • Solarino S (2014) Geoethics and communication 2: Ethics, the notably absent from the internet. In Lollino G, Arattano M, Giardino M, Oliveira R, Peppoloni S (eds) Engineering Geology for Society and Territory, vol 7 Education, Professional Ethics and Public Recognition of Engineering Geology. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-09303-1_7

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Correspondence to Stefano Solarino .

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Solarino, S. (2014). Geoethics and Communication 1. Scientists, Politicians, Journalists, Media Entertainers, Sociologists: Can Ethics Help to Establish Their Exact Role in Communicating Geoscience?. In: Lollino, G., Arattano, M., Giardino, M., Oliveira, R., Peppoloni, S. (eds) Engineering Geology for Society and Territory - Volume 7. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-09303-1_10

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