A Role for Citizen Science?


Many people – actually citizens because they have rights – were probably put-off science at school.

Students good at science, usually went-on to university and today, still tend to join business and government as well-paid specialists.

Against this backdrop, citizen science brings the study of science and its general principles back to people in an engaging and immediately useful way.

Employing the latest tools for the visualisation of scientific concepts, communication ethics as a standpoint, builds people’s grasp of how science can be used to change and improve life today.

For citizen-science the broad goal is understanding and promoting change towards a new sustainable economy and society.

For all citizens, understanding the principles upon which science is conducted and decided, is critical to necessary debate held in the public realm  – in private it helps too!

Background

Twentieth century science proved that the world is simply too complex for anyone to recognise more than 0.000000001% of classically identified reality.

A deep natural complexity found throughout the Universe, is also dynamic, featuring changing patterns that may be defined by momentary methodological or scientific agreement, although as partial insights only.

Today, this well-researched conundrum affects the very nature and understanding of science and how we know anything.

Most politicians and even scientists, simply avoid this fundamental and destabilising insight.

In summary, our way of knowing the world is inadequate, at least to all but the most reductive explanation, and except where agreement is established using the tools and methods of science.

Yet commonly, science is misassigned in the present age by its specialisation and removal from public interest.

Even scientists are shocked by the growing risks of a 'world civilization' built on science, although one that appears to hold such simplistic and reductive explanations.

The shock felt by many at facing 'complexity and uncertainty' in science, let alone daily life, is profound.

Some try the question, but what of the past? How did they survive?

They rationalise that we know what happened then (inaccurate), so we must know what is happening now (inaccurate).

They continue, if the future is inherently unpredictable and we don't really know the past, let’s stick to the present?

However, sticking to the present makes it impossible to change based on science — there is no evidence in the present only representations, or theories, that might be true or not.

This is why citizen science and in truth all science is a participatory programme, because we all need to agree reality continuously, against the background of complexity and fake news!

Ask yourself a simple question.

What if the looming crisis of sustainability – defined by the Royal Society (UK) for the UNCSD in 2012 as an integrated crisis of political, cultural, environmental, economic and social issues – really is happening in y/our one lifetime?

Just suppose it is a real and present danger that threatens us all?

Just suppose, we do nothing to address multiple issues, now quite regularly reported in the media, as ‘existential threats to human civilization’?

What of our future, if we do not understand the reality of our present using the best methodological tools, information and data?

Could this be the problem?

We simply don’t have the tools to ‘think’ about issues of such complexity, nor, certainly, do our politicians. Or indeed any expert group including scientists themselves?

This dilemma appears to sum-up much of the failure of governance and collective action today?

Everywhere there is dispute and disagreement, even under the shadow of a looming crisis that threatens us all.

Yet what can we do under these circumstances?

Communicating ethics

Today, children and adults, everybody, requires to examine their values as a basic part of living and communicating.

Without such self-examination we are all guilty of making assumptions and having opinions, ungrounded in science, ethics or logic.

Evaluating the logic of communication and in-depth examination of life values are two key techniques practised via communication ethics.

Returning to the questions above, the scientific standpoint demands detailed and continuous reinterpretation of all life values in our communication together as world citizens.

Communication ethics is a straightforward, simple-to-employ practice for group or individual learning and/or decision making.

It works against imprecise thinking and thoughtless behaviour to protect the lifeworld and indeed fundamental human security against risk.