The High Price for Telling the Truth (And Why You Need to Do It Anyway)
By Kevin M. Folta, Ph.D.
Horticultural Sciences Department
University of Florida
Watch Presentation (25 min 19 sec)
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There are great public controversies in areas where the science is well established. Areas like vaccination, genetic engineering and climate still spark intense public discord, featuring asymmetrical discussions on social media that erode public trust in science. Scientists and agricultural producers attempt to step into these discussions and make the situation worse, mostly because we rely solely on our expertise to convey factual information to correct misunderstanding. It does not work. The presentation will detail my journey through two decades of science communication with the public, show my mistakes and corrections, the near career-ending attacks from activists, and the way to move forward by earning trust and encouraging broader participation of the scientific community. Creating trust in science and agriculture requires everyone to participate in effective ways using the most appropriate media.