Christopher X J. Jensen
Associate Professor, Pratt Institute

Rachel Carson still under attack for bringing her values to bear on her science

Posted 17 Sep 2012 / 0

Slate Rachel Carson Didn’t Kill Millions of Africans: How the 50-year-old campaign against Silent Spring still distorts environmental debates

There is a lot of interesting stuff here, including a fascinating view into how scientific findings get processed by the public (both left and right leaning). The ad hominem attacks on Carson are interesting because they seem to be a proxy attack on environmentalism as a whole. And here is where the science that supports some demands for environmental regulations gets into trouble: it has to be very careful about how it extrapolates from scientific knowledge to prescribed action. Scientists who fail to write as Carson did in a normative framework risk allowing their discoveries to go unnoticed. But as soon as scientists inject their norms, they are subject to attack from those whose values are not underpinned by scientific knowledge.

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