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Authors: Solarino, Stefano 
Title: How to strengthen public trust in geosciences
Issue Date: 2015
Series/Report no.: / 419 (2015)
DOI: 10.1144/SP419.14
Subject Classification05.03. Educational, History of Science, Public Issues 
Abstract: Abstract: Finding an appropriate way to communicate scientific knowledge has always been a challenge, but lately it has become even more so. In fact a few recent episodes have dramatically weakened the mutual confidence between society and research. This happened within a process that had been slowly leading scientists to communicate science more effectively, and society to being more inclined to learn about natural hazards. Unfortunately, in some cases the failures or the uncertainty in describing natural phenomena turned out to be very negative for the scientific community. In addition, in a few cases scientists were considered at fault or co-responsible for actions not undertaken to mitigate the risk, and these cases illustrate how the role of science became confused with that of politics. In this work I analyse what went wrong in the light of geoethics, which studies moral behaviour and the discrimination between right and wrong conduct. I then try to assess what can be done to recover and possibly instil more confidence in science, again in terms of ethics. In summary, the recent developments of the relationship between science and society suggest a ‘new deal’, in which society has lower expectations as to what science can deliver, and within which there is a scientific community that has been adequately trained to communicate with the public. Additionally, an effort must be made to include uncertainties in communication and to educate citizens in a better understanding of uncertainties as a part of the flow of information.
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