It’s Not About Science, It’s About Values

As I was catching up from vacation, I ran across this interesting post on Roger Pielke, Jr.’s blog. It appears that you can’t get the paper he refers to without a subscription (hopefully I missed something).

The discussion and quotes reminded me a bit of our “science of fuel treatments” discussion.

Here’s a piece:

A quote from the article Roger cites:

Individuals tend to assimilate information by fitting it to pre-existing narrative templates or schemes that invest the information with meaning. The elements of these narrative templates—the identity of the stock heroes and villains, the nature of their dramatic struggles, and the moral stakes of their engagement with one another—vary in identifiable and recurring ways across cultural groups. By crafting messages to evoke narrative templates that are culturally congenial to target audiences, risk communicators can help to assure that the content of the information they are imparting receives considered attention across diverse cultural groups . . .

And Roger’s point

Again ironically, efforts to identify or label those who are skeptical of certain expert views as “anti-science” or “deniers” are like to become self-fulfilling in the sense that they reinforce the rejection of expert views as they play directly to a narrative conditioned on cultural considerations. Consequently, breaking down, rather than reinforcing differences across cultural groups would this seem key to broader acceptance of certain scientific findings. Building bridges is harder work than tearing them down

Through the impenetrable prose of academic science-technology studies-speak, do I detect a glimmer of a practical idea about talking to the public about risk?

1 thought on “It’s Not About Science, It’s About Values”

  1. I do sometimes catch myself trying to shoehorn placed-based issues into my broader pro-management “template”. I have seen many forests in many states, and that has prepared me to look outside of that template to see how active management can benefit different forest types. It’s remarkable how similar pine plantations in South Carolina look compared to the western p. pine forests.

    One size does not fit all!


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