EEB Seminar: January 10th

Welcome to our second semester of EEB Seminars! This week we’ll hear from our own John Smol.

A crisis in science literacy: Does our reluctance to engage the public make academics complicit?

I believe we are facing a developing crisis in science literacy and communication and, by extension, how poorly science is used to formulate evidence-based policy. My general concern is that science, at the very least, is being under-used by politicians, policymakers, and the public-at-large. At worst, science is being misinterpreted, misrepresented, and misused. I believe that we, as academics, are partly to blame for this situation. My focus will be on environmental science, using primarily Canadian examples, although I believe many of my concerns are applicable to other disciplines and regions. I will argue that the onus falls increasingly on academic scientists to provide information transfer in effective ways. Equally important, we must correct misconceptions concerning “how science is done.” If facts and information are not prized and communicated, then ideology will trump evidence. And if you don’t value truth, then you don’t value democracy.