Spent a great couple of days at NCAR/UCAR last week, culminating in a lecture on "Communicating Climate Science in a Polluted Science Communication Environment."
There are 10^6 great things about NCAR/UCAR, of course.
But the one that really grabbed my attention on this visit is how much the scientists there are committed to the instrinsic value of communicating science.
They want people —decisionmakers, citizens, curious people, kids (dogs & cats, even; they are definitely a bit crazy!)—to know what they know, to see what they see, because they recognize the unique thrill that comes from contemplating what human beings, employing science’s signature methods of observation and inference, have been able to discern about the hidden workings of nature.
Yes, making use of what science knows is useful—indeed, essential—for individual & collective well-being.
That’s a very good reason, too, to want to communicate science under circumstances in which one has good justification (i.e., a theory consistent with plausible behavioral mechanisms and supported by evidence) to believe that not knowing what’s known is causing people to make bad decisions.
But if you think that “knowing what’s known” is how people manage to align their decisionmaking with the best available evidence in all the domains in which their well-being depends on that; that their “not knowing” is thus the explanation for persistent states of public conflict over the best evidence on matters like climate change or nuclear power or the HPV vaccine; and that communicating what’s known to science is thus the most effective way to dispel such disputes, then you actually have a very very weak grasp of the science of science communication.
And if you think, too, that what I just wrote implies there is “no point” in enabling people to know, then you have just revealed that you are merely posing—to others, & likely even to yourself!—when you claim to care about science communication and science education.
I spent hours exchanging ideas with NCAR scientists--including ideas about how to use empirical evidence to perfect climate-science communication--and not even for one second did I feel I was talking to someone like that.