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Covid, consensus and conspiracy: Mapping a change in narrative

I have written about the concept of consensus before, in the context of climate change. Now it’s time to write a few words on how consensus is used as a concept in the context of covid, or more precisely, in the debate about the origins of the coronavirus. The emerging literature surrounding this origin story …

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Tracing the contours of the consensus debate in climate change: The sequel

In August 2013 I wrote a blog post on the issue of ‘consensus’ in the context of climate change. This topic had been put into the climate communication spotlight by a paper published in May 2013 by Cook et al. entitled: ”Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature” (for more background, …

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Climate, science and politics: The certainty and consensus confusion

In this, my probably final, blog post on climate change, I’ll return to a topic that has troubled me for many years, namely religious rhetoric used in debates about climate change science and climate change politics. The terrain between climate change science and climate change politics has become a bit of a swamp and the …

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Consensus in science

At the Circling the Square 2 conference there was a lot of talk about ‘consensus’ and Mike Hulme gave an inspiring key note lecture about the concept from a philosophical and sociological perspective (Paul Matthews has provided a summary on the conference blog). All this made me think a bit more about the meaning of …

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Consensus on climate change: Tracing the contours of a debate

Soon the new IPCC report on climate change will be published (a leaked version is already circulating). This will probably generate a lot of talk about what one may call the four Cs: Consensus, certainty, confidence and credibility (let alone the other two Cs: climate and change). The discussion about consensus is already in full …

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Science and trust – the sequel

In 2018 a new ‘International Science Council’ (ICS) was established and I wrote a blog post in which I critically dissected the announcement of this launch. I tried to show that this announcement seemed to perpetuate a series of misconceptions relating to science and trust. At the end of October 2023, the ISC Centre for …

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Frontier AI: Tracing the origin of a concept

The UK government has convened an international AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire which will take place on 1 and 2 November, 2023. On 16 October the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology tweeted: “The agenda for the opening day of the #AISafetySummit has been published. The UK is laying out a focused plan …

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Endemic confusion

A few days ago, I saw this tweet by Bill Hanage and smiled: “For some reason there seems to be a lot of talk about endemicity again. For the avoidance of doubt, omicron is not endemic right now in much the same way that the moon is not a hamster”. I read many of the …

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Making Science Public 2021: End of year round-up of blog posts

We are coming to the end of a another pandemic year, and time seems to expand endlessness towards an uncertain horizon. That means quite a few of my blog posts this year were still devoted to covid and the pandemic, but I also wrote about genetics, climate change and some other incidental topics. As usual, …

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IPCC reports, climate change and language work

This blog post is not about climate change communication. It is about what I call the ‘language work’ carried out by scientists when writing the various IPCC reports. Introduction On 9 August 2021 the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, namely the Contribution of Working Group 1 …

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