Engaging with crackpots at conferences
May 31, 2012
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Janet D. Stemwedel (San José State) writes on engaging with crackpots at science conferences, and whether how to engage with them is an ethical question. The article is in Scientific American here.
In the continuum of “scientific knowledge”, on whose behalf scientists are sworn to uphold standards and keep out the dross, where do meetings fall? Do the scientists in attendance have any ethical duty to give their candid assessments of crackpottery to the crackpots? Or is it OK to just snicker about it at the bar? If there’s no obligation to call the crackpot out, does that undermine the value of meetings as sources of scientific knowledge, or of the scientific communications needed to build scientific knowledge?