Guest Post By Forrest M. Mims III “On Being A Scientist”

In response to my post

National Academies Press Book “On Being A Scientist: Third Edition: 2009

I have received the guest post below.

Guest Post By Forrest M. Mims III [www.forrestmims.org ;www.sunandsky.org; twitter.com/fmims; www.youtube.com/fmims]

Ralph Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Science, is among those listed in the credit for “On Being a Scientist” (page vii). I enjoyed a pleasant conversation with Dr. Cicenone during the 50th Anniversary of the Global Carbon Dioxide Record Symposium in November 2007 in Hawaii, where he gave a keynote talk and where I spoke about the Mauna Loa Observatory book.

During a February 2007 interview with Bob Ryan, former president of the American Meteorological Society, Dr. Cicerone expressed his support for global warming science. The interview closed with a statement that very much conforms with the ideals expressed in “On Being a Scientist” and gives vigorous support to those who are attempting to raise the credibility of global warming science.

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BR [Bob Ryan]: What’s the responsibility of the scientist today in this area of obviously political changes and policy? How do you separate the role of the scientist from the politician and the policy makers?

RC [Ralph Cicerone]: It is getting harder because what we need from scientists first and foremost is what we’ve always needed – that they have to be absolutely open-minded and tough-minded in evaluating the evidence and conducting experiments and doing calculations. They have to let the chips fall where they may. But what is making it harder is that as each of these fields of sciences becomes deeper and more specialized and more dependent on 20 years of learning before you can do anything, it makes it harder to communicate to the rest of us who are not specialists of what all these individuals know. So, we are actually asking scientists now, at least some of them, to do more than we asked of them in the past. We need rigorous, hard-nosed, extremely skeptical scientific attitude that is very independent-minded. On the other hand, we are asking them to communicate across all professions and across all livelihoods at the same time.

 BR: Quite a Challenge.

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