2001 journal article

Science and advocacy are different?and we need to keep them that way

Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 6(1), 39–47.

By: L. Nielsen*

Source: NC State University Libraries
Added: August 6, 2018

Because of my administrative role and personality, I am very suspicious of mixing science and advocacy. Science is concerned with being right, whereas advocacy is concerned with not being passive. Consequently, science by itself can seldom prescribe social decisions; this assures that when scientists advocate, they will generally go beyond the limits of their scientific knowledge. Because scientists and professionals, just like all people, are laden with values, they need to be especially cautious and self-conscious when they act as advocates. And, because natural resource scientists and professionals often work in areas where knowledge is scarce and decisions are important across society, we have special responsibilities to be explicit about our roles as advocates. We must study and minimize our biases; clearly understand our personal values; disclose our interests; seek and embrace contrary views; and regularly assess our motives.