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Over the past several years, some important fields of scientific study (e.g., climate change, evolution) have become entangled with ideological agendas. Unfortunately, when scientific findings have political or religious implications, stakeholders tend to react emotionally, displaying either unquestioning acceptance or extreme skepticism, depending on their own ideological perspective. This creates a wedge between elements of the scientific community and certain societal groups. On the one hand, scientists are accused of allowing their political viewpoints to affect the way they analyze, interpret, and report their findings. And consistent reports of data tampering and academic dishonesty only add fuel to this fire. On the other hand, skeptical members of the public are dismissed as being irrational, unintelligent, or foolish. In such a culture of suspicion and defensiveness, it is difficult to make progress.

For this week’s discussion board, think about the societal groups to which you belong (e.g., political, religious, ethnic).

How would you describe your group’s relationship with the scientific community?
Is there any “bad blood” between your group and some part of the scientific community?
Explain. What areas of division or distrust can you identify? What is the impact of these divisions?

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