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Seeking Good Debate"Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life"$
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Michael S. Evans

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285071

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285071.001.0001

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Science and Bad Debate

Science and Bad Debate

(p.150) Chapter 9 Science and Bad Debate
Seeking Good Debate

Michael S. Evans

University of California Press

This chapter demonstrates that respondents' confidence in science depends on science remaining “faceless” in public life. Respondents largely endorse the public narrative of scientists as virtuous seekers of knowledge for whom participation in public life is a distraction or, at worst, corruption. Thus, respondents see science as valuable, but generally disapprove of scientists in public life. In some cases, respondents think that science representatives are abusing the authority of science for their own personal gain. In other cases, respondents think that scientists are trying to cut off good debate by deploying expert knowledge to silence opponents. Since public defense of science by science representatives runs counter to what ordinary people expect, science is particularly susceptible to challenge in public debate.

Keywords:   science, public life, science representatives, expert knowledge, public debate, scientific authority

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