ScienceOnline Climate – a few links

August 19, 2013

Last week I went skipping off to the amazing and fun ScienceOnline Climate Conference for a few days.

My scholarship focuses in large part on the ways knowledge about science, nature, and health are produced, deployed, understood, and/or acted on.

My primary goal in attending this event was to get a better understanding of how science communicators are situating people in their work – whether that means looking at the differing relationship Indigenous arctic people, scientists, tourists, and commercial fisheries have with wild ice or enacting policies on climate change related coastal damage in Southern states or engaging with members of the public who deny climate change is being accelerated by human behavior.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many attendees had an anthropology background or who were very interested in how engaging with the topic from an anthropological perspective could strengthen their work.

I made some great contacts, put faces to a lot of names I only knew online, and saw some old friends. I’ve got posts in progress about 3 workshop sessions: communicating climate change as a non-expert, the role of art in communicating about climate change, and using games to communicate climate change issues.

In the meantime, here are links to Keynote speaker Andy Revkin’s post on his NY Times blog, Dot Earth and Plenary session panelist Dan Kahan’s (@cult_cognition) article at Yale’s Cultural Cognition Project, “Who distrusts whom about what in the climate science debate?”

You can also check in to the conference wiki, where blogposts, pictures, and video of sessions are being added even as I type.

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August 23, 2013 @ 6:28 pm

You have echoed Revkin’s argument repeatedly that as activists we need to stick to promoting only the most rigorous studies, but I don’t feel you’ve ever argued persuasively that any real harm comes from using extreme stories or extreme theories or extreme examples to excite the public and spur them to action. Your conference sounds like something Exxon would put on to tell PR flacks how to keep people complacent.

August 24, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

Corporate sponsorship of ScienceOnline was so minimal I was largely unaware of it. I just actually googled to check and learned the sponsors were, as I thought, all professional societies. That in no way means that there can’t be bias or corporate funding of those societies – I’m unclear if you’re insinuating something with that comment that I’m missing???

As for the harm done by doctored images or the fatigue caused by crying wolf over studies that turn out to be at best speculative and at worst very Bad Science, I think the flap over the image of the polar bear on the iceberg that started this discussion (a few days ago) speaks volumes. Just look at Limbaugh’s take-away from the fiasco and the message millions of his listeners took away from him:

How is that not harmful? Yes, many of his listeners are climate deniers. But Rush wasn’t the only one who used this one mis-step to discredit a hell of a lot of good science and to put doubt into the minds of a lot of people about the credibility of the magazine and the judgement of the editors.

August 24, 2013 @ 8:21 pm

Climate change activists need to be more creative to get people to care. I think scientists in lab coats forget that we need to grab the public with the biggest baddest headlines we can muster and shake them up where they live. It works for people like Limbaugh. It can work for us. Scientists are corrupt and beholden to companies like Monsanto. We must team up with scientists who speak our truths. Their truth can no longer be the only truth out there. Speaking truth to power doesn’t require scientific knowledge, it requires passion and action and love of mother earth. Stephen Colbert’s idea of truthiness will get us farther than science’s so-called truths.

August 24, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

Citizens have to stand up for the planet and for themselves. We believed scientists that vaccines were safe, yet scientist after scientist has thrown off the yoke of Big Pharma so they can sleep at night. The same needs to happen regarding the environment, GMOs, and other issues of grave importance to our survival. We gotta start somewhere or the revolution never happens. Hundreds of girls have died in canada alone!

Dr. Diane Harper was the lead researcher in the development of the human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix. She is the latest to come forward and question the safety and effectiveness of these vaccines. She made the surprising announcement at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination, which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2nd through 4th, 2009. Her speech was supposed to promote the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccines, but she instead turned on her corporate bosses in a very public way. When questioned about the presentation, audience members remarked that they came away feeling that the vaccines should not be used.

“I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all.”

— Joan Robinson

Dr. Harper explained in her presentation that the cervical cancer risk in the U.S. is already extremely low, and that vaccinations are unlikely to have any effect upon the rate of cervical cancer in the United States. In fact, 70% of all H.P.V. infections resolve themselves without treatment in a year, and the number rises to well over 90% in two years. Harper also mentioned the safety angle. All trials of the vaccines were done on children aged 15 and above, despite them currently being marketed for 9-year-olds.

So far, 15,037 girls have reported adverse side effects from Gardasil alone to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (V.A.E.R.S.), and this number only reflects parents who underwent the hurdles required for reporting adverse reactions. At the time of writing, 44 girls are officially known to have died from these vaccines. The reported side effects include Guillian Barré Syndrome (paralysis lasting for years, or permanently — sometimes eventually causing suffocation), lupus, seizures, blood clots, and brain inflammation. Parents are usually not made aware of these risks.

August 25, 2013 @ 12:25 am

Maureen is correct. Western medicine is a subjective and oppressive construct that creates nightmare vaccine scenarios that will wipe out life on the planet while scientists sit around waiting for evidence. It is Foucault’s system of control and coercion put into practice on a grand scale. The HPV vaccine is a genocide in the making.

August 25, 2013 @ 12:33 am

The Canadian Health service page on myths and facts relating to HPV notes this:
In the vaccine trials, deaths were reported in both groups, but investigators concluded that it is highly unlikely that the HPV vaccine caused the deaths. Most deaths were caused by the usual reasons seen in the age groups studied, such as motor vehicle accidents, overdoses and blood clots. Other causes were blood poisoning, pancreatic cancer, heart beat irregularities, and suffocation.