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At what point should a person move from explaining their scientific discoveries towards advocating their importance in policy development? And is science communication simply a form of advocacy itself? These are some of the thorny questions posed to Michael Nelson, associate professor of environmental ethics and philosophy at Michigan State University, in “Do Scientists Have a Special Responsibility to Engage in Political Advocacy?” by Matthew C. Nisbit.
In the interview, Nelson refers to his paper, co-authored with John Vucetich entitled “On Advocacy by Environmental Scientists: What, Whether, Why, and How” in which he finds that “advocacy is nearly unavoidable, and that scientists, by virtue of being citizens first and scientists second, have a responsibility to advocate to the best of their abilities, to improve their advocacy abilities, and to advocate in a justified and transparent manner.”
It is still not an easy question though. Really it boils down to what we are prepared to accept in society from our scientists. Read the rest of this entry »
The recent story whipped up by the Australian Sex Party regarding restrictions on, amongst other things, small breasts appearing in pornography in Australia (on grounds of them appearing child-like) highlights some of the subtle problems that exist in Australian political life. Whilst it concerns the independent classification board, this story has stirred commentary from politicians. Most Australians would find the censorship ridiculous and a little abhorrent. We do not like censorship per se, believing that freedom of expression, properly used, is a cornerstone of democracy. On the other hand, we have a strong underlying discourse on “family values”, much of which is born out of a Christian heritage. Read the rest of this entry »
Ahh, the national day. A time to have a day off, relax, have a barbie, do whatever. Maybe enjoy how lucky you are to be living in a prosperous country on a warm summers day. The cricket on telly, a few beers, great stuff. Back to work the next day feeling a little seedy, but ready finally for another year.
Well, that’s how I remember it, “back in the day”. I don’t remember cars festooned with the flag and stickers with “Love it or leave” written on them. That wasn’t part of Australia Day. In fact, it has always been a rather awkward public holiday – one that you just enjoy without having to think hard about anything. Which makes it different from ANZAC day, which commemorates a tragic episode in our history where to some extent, the nation called Australia was “born”. Read the rest of this entry »