Not only in comments that I have made elsewhere in the blog, but also in other people’s comments, I have noticed a trend in these comments saying that scientists need to not only discuss and communicate with one another but also with the public. Yet, how are scientists to be taught, shown, told, etc that it is important for them to communicate their lines of inquiry and findings with others, and to do so successfully?
There obviously are scientists who do know how to communicate, and do so successfully, but I would argue that many of these scientists run up against plenty of road blocks along the way. For example, as was talked about in “Private Science, Public Inquiry” there is a good proportion of university research that is funded by private (industry) funders. Therefore, one can only assume that scientists with such funding may have difficulty getting permission by such funders to present certain results, thus inhibiting their ability to communicate with others. Also, I would assume that scientists who work in government labs have similar difficulties (e.g. there has been some evidence that some of the engineers working on the shuttle Columbia knew that there was a potential problem, but such facts were not made public until years later). What are such scientists to do? Are they to turn down private funders or fight against the government? According to Kitcher and his suggestion for how to move towards well-ordered science, the scientists should fight or step done/away from their research. However, is this something that scientists in such positions should be expected to do? This I am unsure of. For if so, there would most likely be high resistance. Also, if they do, my guess is that private funders and/or the government would find scientists who would be willing to work under such conditions and go against Kitcher’s well-ordered science.
As for those who do not communicate or do not know how to communicate effectively, how are they to be taught how to do so? First, many of these scientists would probably not respond well to being told that they do not know how to communicate. Second, I highly doubt that they would want to take classes, read something, or attend conferences specifically about communication (my guess is that the individuals who would attend such a conference would be those who already can communicate). So what is left? This I do not know, and is where I am stuck and do not know what to suggest.