"It is the unhappy fate of the scientist today that he must play the role of Cassandra in the body politic, sending his fellow men to bed with nightmares in the hope to be heard in time."

- Arthur von Hippel, in "The Molecular Designing of Materials" (h/t @upbeatprof)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Persuasion, honesty, steady work: pick two

I am reminded that David Roberts said:
As for the rules of effective persuasion, well, they're the same for scientists as anyone else. The point to scientists is just: if you go out in public, study those rules. Accept that you are attempting to persuade, not just to impart dry facts, and take responsibility for it. If you don't want to be in the persuasion business, don't speak out publicly. Just don't have any illusions.
On the other hand, we have to have due respect for truth, which professional persuaders do not. Also, we have to get our work done and funded.

Professional persuaders do not have to do any of that. This, in short, is why we lose so many people once they start to take a serious look at climate change. The spin doctors do a better job than the doctors of philosophy, at least at spin, and that is what counts.

The whole thing is a mess. I think there needs to be a new job description somewhere.

I would take such a thing in a heartbeat, in case anybody out there is listening. But who would be willing to pay for it? It's very hard to see how this could work as a public sector position in the US, and by its nature a fair look at the big picture is not necessarily in the interest of any private organization.

Yes freelance writing is an option, but so is being somewhat miscast as a scientific programmer (not that I won't do the work well, please understand) and writing a lot on the side. The latter comes with a steady paycheck.

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