A week or so ago the UN released this profound new statement;
“We must phase out fossil fuels by 2100”
Apart from being a statement of the screaming obvious, what really bugged me was where this news came from.
“Science has spoken… there is no ambiguity in their message”
And here’s my peev; that blunt facts about the nature of the world are given as if they’re an opinion of a specific group (albeit an educated one). If the UN were simply to state that the fact is that we need to phase out fossil fuels by 2100, in the same way that they’d state that Germany is a country, there’d be no room for dispute about this fact. But as it is, their reporting of what a group of scientists have said not only confirms that they’re not the ones who actually understand it, but also throws it open to discussion. It could have read
“Some guy UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was talking to in the pub states we need to phase out fossil fuels, and, you know, he seemed to know what he was talking about.”
Why do we continue to paint scientists as this separate minority who operate from The Unseen University? As some white-coat-wearing cult who invent theories from which we can pick-and-choose our own ideas of the fundamental workings of the universe?
It’s beautifully illustrated by John Oliver on this clip form Last Week Tonight – it’s not that one in 4 people have a validly different opinion, it’s that one in four people are wrong about something. To illustrate this here, here’s a commonly perceived scientist next to the Chicken of Irrational Beliefs;
THESE ARE NOT EQUALLY WEIGHTED STANCES, yet the media continue to portray facts of the universe – that the world’s most educated people have tirelessly studied – as open to debate with the lay masses. So what do we do?
Here’s a scary thought Scientists – maybe it’s our fault…
I firmly believe that if you find you’re mis-portrayed by the media – you’re not talking to them right! You appreciate already that you essentially work in different languages – but Scientists, it’s your job (and moral obligation when we’re talking about the fate of the world as we know it) to be intelligent enough to figure that out & work with it.
I know we all love ‘Science’, and scientific practice, and scientific rigor and falsification; they are the noblest of pursuits, but how about we stop telling the media what the science has found, and start telling them what the facts are?
If you want to change the game, first you’ve got to know how to play it.