Dr. Donald I Siegel, Syracuse University
“The Dismissal of Facts in Water-Related Decision Making: Root Causes and What to do About It”.
Water scientists no longer can assume that societal decisions on water, ranging from contamination to resource allocation, will be based on preponderance of scientific fact. Regional and social tribalism, single issues tied to ethics, and a fragmented digital media lead to bipartisan repudiation of science and the scientific method. Opposing sides of water (and other) scientific issues use identical play books to reduce the value of scientific facts; “cherry picking” data, smearing bearers of unwelcome scientific news, promoting obstructionist rhetoric, and not expressing true concerns. The scientific debate over methane concentrations in drinking water serves as a case in point. A possible way for scientists in water quality or quantity debates to ameliorate this sad state of affairs is to publicly respect and take the time understand the opposition to sound water science, thereby offering a chance for compromise in the future.