Posts Tagged ‘willis eschenbach’

Eschenbach to Trenberth: Admit uncertainty but don’t show uncertainty

January 26, 2011

Willis Eschenbach, in an open letter to Kevin Trenberth, lais bare the catch-22 for scientists-communicators:

Admit the true uncertainties.

while at the same time:

Write scientific papers that don’t center around words like “possibly” or “conceivably” or “might”.

Hmm… that might be tricky. Due to the impossibility of complying with both requests though, it’s a good recipe for presuming someone guilty until proven guilty.

There’s an important question underlying these recommendations though: How could scientist steer between the need to admit uncertainties and at the same time communicate clearly?

Update: I partly answered my own question before: It’s what we know that’s most important in communicating to the public.

Also: The catch-22 in communicating to the public; talking by means of merely providing rational information or emotive storytelling (just the facts won’t do); being angry or calm in your communication?



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