In 2014, I coauthored an analysis of cable news representations of climate science at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) with Rachel Kriegsman. The analysis received significant coverage and thousands of UCS members petitioned CNN to improve its coverage. In the ensuing year, the network stopped hosting debates about the scientific reality of industrial-driven climate change and started featuring more proactive, scientifically accurate climate coverage.
Scientists are used to defending their data and methods among their peers, but when politicians and ideologues attack their work, the same rules of logic, evidence-based reasoning and accuracy no longer apply. Further, political polarization and media fragmentation make it easier than ever for scientists to find themselves facing scrutiny – legitimate and otherwise. I coauthored a guide to help scientists respond to such scrutiny without sacrificing their reputations or driving themselves to distraction.
Dr. Michael Mann has faced more politicized scrutiny of his work than any other living scientist. I was happy to provide comments to his manuscript for The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, a must-read for anyone interested in the messy intersection between science and democracy. I was even happier to contribute to efforts that prevented Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli from accessing Dr. Mann’s university emails. The Virginia Supreme Court rejected Cuccinelli’s demand in 2012, setting a legal precedent that will protect researchers from similar politicized attacks.
As part of a report on interactions between science and environmental reporters and federal agencies, Deborah Bailin and I conducted a series of interviews with leading journalists and high-level agency communications staff at EPA, FWS, NASA and NIH.
In January 2009, I submitted one of the top recommendations for the Citizen’s Briefing Book, a project the Obama Administration transition team launched at Change.gov. The entry, “Boost America’s Economy with Legal Online Poker” argued that reforming the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act to explicitly exempt online poker would keep related revenue and taxes in the United States and lead to stronger anti-fraud and cheating protection for players. The entry was successful, due in large part to votes from the Two Plus Two poker forum.