Education and Didactics


Do People in Physics Have a Responsibility to Inform the Public? (Slides)

Authors: Jonathan J. Dickau

In the present day; industrial accidents or natural disasters occur, and Physics-related questions arise, with increasing frequency. Do scientists have a responsibility to inform the public, when we are well-informed and others are lacking knowledge? Should we also safeguard certain information, in order to protect the public from harm? Unfortunately; people in positions of authority - both in business and in government - are too often lacking what many would consider a basic knowledge of Physics principles, so they need insight and information we have, to make informed decisions. But for many researchers; it is unwise or unsafe to speak out. And yet; when our leaders say they are powerless to fix things, as they have no better answers, we who know there are better answers need to acknowledge that we have failed to empower those leaders or our fellow citizens. Some are looking for ways to change this situation. The Azimuth Project, founded by physicist John Baez, attempts to provide a way for scientists and engineers to aid or save the Environment with their knowledge. Much of the information available on environmental issues is confusing or opinionated, and a Wiki, a Forum, and a Library of analysis software and information devoted to the subject assist in correcting this problem. This provides a clear example of how scientists can keep the public properly informed, and an opportunity to do so.

Comments: 24 Pages. Slides for a talk given at FFP15, fulfilling a promise made to Pete Seeger.

Download: PDF

Submission history

[v1] 2019-07-28 22:43:43

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