Communicating science in public controversies: Strategic considerations of the German climate scientists

Senja Post

In public controversies on scientific issues, scientists likely consider the effects of their findings on journalists and on the public debate. A representative survey of 123 German climate scientists (42%) finds that although most climate scientists think that uncertainties about climate change should be made clearer in public they do not actively communicate this to journalists. Moreover, the climate scientists fear that their results could be misinterpreted in public or exploited by interest groups. Asking scientists about their readiness to publish one of two versions of a fictitious research finding shows that their concerns weigh heavier when a result implies that climate change will proceed slowly than when it implies that climate change will proceed fast.

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