You have your orders

Chris Mooney is still at it, telling ‘scientists’ what they must do. They must learn to ‘communicate’ better. They must also learn to reassure trembling theists better. They keep not doing that, and Chris Mooney is getting pretty tired of the way they don’t listen to him.

…at its core, the objection to evolution isn’t about science at all, but about perceived threats to faith and moral values. The only way to defuse the conflict is to assuage these fundamental fears. Yet this drags many scientists out of their comfort zone: They’re not priests or theologians and don’t know how to sound like them. Many refuse to try; others go to the opposite extreme of advocating vociferous and confrontational atheism.

Isn’t that irritating? Mooney keeps telling them, yet they go right on being atheist and saying why they are atheist. It’s so perverse and obstinate and naughty. After all Mooney has infallible knowledge of what is the right thing to do and what actions will cause what results, so it’s just unconscionable that ‘scientists’ won’t obey him.

Ironically, to increase support for the teaching of evolution, scientists must join forces with — and show more understanding of — religion. Scientists who are believers also need to be more vocal about how they reconcile science and faith.

They must, you see – not they could, or they should, or it might help if they; no, they must. According to Chris Mooney. That’s how we know he has infallible knowledge of what will cause what to happen – it’s because he’s so bossy.

In other words, what’s needed is less “pure science” on its own — although of course scientists must continue to speak in scientifically accurate terms — and more engagement with the concerns of nonscientific audiences. In response to that argument, many researchers will say: “Why target us? We’re the good guys. And if we become more media savvy, we’ll risk our credibility.” There is only one answer to this objection: “Look all around you — at Climategate, at the unending evolution wars — and ask, are your efforts working?” The answer, surely, is no.

The answer is ‘no’ if and only if your definition of ‘working’ is one peculiar to Chris Mooney. What he means is not ‘are your efforts working?’ but ‘are particular things going the way I would like them to go?’ and it simply is not written into the structure of the universe that scientists as such are obliged to do whatever will make things go the way Chris Mooney would like them to; not even if Mooney’s wishes are on the whole sensible wishes. Mooney does have sensible wishes, but they’re not the only possible wishes, and his version of ‘working’ is not the only possible version of ‘working.’ Scientists spending their time being scientists rather than being ‘media savvy’ suck ups and soothers and appeasers makes a lot of things ‘work’ and it may just not be on the cards for them to add political maneuvering to the menu. It’s also just not as obvious as Mooney thinks it is that if scientists did do that, the things Mooney wants to work would work. He has great and unexplained certainty that it is obvious, but pretty much no one else does.

On other topics, including evolution, scientists must recognize that more than scientific matters are at stake, and either address the moral and ethical issues themselves, or pair with those who can (in the case of evolution, religious leaders and scientists such as Giberson and National Institutes of Health chief Francis Collins).

Bossy. Bossy bossy bossy. He really should do something about that – being an expert in communication and all. It’s way off-putting to have a young fella like him telling you what you must do, especially when what you must do is something as rebarbative as either trying to talk ‘moral and ethical’ sludge to theists or pair with Karl Giberson or Francis Collins for the purpose.

Maybe what ought to happen is that scientists ought to start writing articles for the Washington Post telling communication experts what they must do to make things work. That would be entertaining.

21 Responses to “You have your orders”

Leave a Comment



Subscribe without commenting