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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Ames, Iowa » National Laboratory for Agriculture and The Environment » Soil, Water & Air Resources Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #390157

Research Project: Managing Energy and Carbon Fluxes to Optimize Agroecosystem Productivity and Resilience

Location: Soil, Water & Air Resources Research

Title: The soil scientist's role in 21st century society

item Sauer, Thomas - Tom

Submitted to: International Soil Science Congress Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/28/2022
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Recent events have thrust the value and reliability of scientific knowledge into high profile social media and political discussions. To many scientists this development is perceived as a rapid onset of antiintellectualism while in fact hostility towards science has a long history. In this presentation I will provide an analysis on the sociology of science as it relates to current issues and the role soil scientists could or should have to play in solving societal problems. Hostility toward science results when research findings conflict with values held by individuals or institutions from which they derive a strong sense of satisfaction. Another potential source of hostility results when rapid technological development leads to economic injustice. In both examples, scientists and their discoveries can be portrayed as arbitrary and fickle with negative consequences for those whose views are in opposition. Scientists, meanwhile, often have a large emotional investment in their way of life and struggle to understand how the non-science community fails to recognize the value of their profession and its discoveries. While scientists view their own skepticism as a virtue, they do not find societal doubts of science positively. It is important to accept that no research is conducted in a social vacuum, and research findings should not automatically be assumed to be beneficial to society. Soil scientists can benefit from an understanding and awareness of public skepticism toward science and adjust their interactions to achieve a more effective result.