One of the things I think the scientific community should do is open up their research, even with its jargon. What I mean is since I left academia, it is nearly impossible to access scientific research. Fortunately, I have a lifetime membership to University of Michigan Alumni Association or I would have no access at all. I get a limited Proquest library access with that.
But then when I go to cite the things I write on Medium, the people looking to fact check my work can’t access the journals I reference. I understand that journals need to make money to survive, so I’m not saying they have to give it away free. But currently they charge $20–30 just to look at a single article. There is no university library access pass the public can buy that I am aware of. There is no repository of journals that can be accessed with some other kind of account. (I can also get articles via research.net, but again, you really have to have published to make an account there).
I think this is a big us versus them barrier to knowledge dissemination. It assumes scientists can have all the knowledge, are the only ones capable of understanding the knowledge (there are no autodidact learners in this scheme), and the only ones who can critique the science.
Let me give you an example. As a scientifically-trained person, I am very much in the pro-vaccine camp. Still am, please keep that in mind as I write the following:
However, I have a brother who says one of the big reasons he supported Trump was his anti-vaccination stance. I was appalled. Then, my brother says to me, “I know you would accept me if I came out as gay, so I expect that you’ll accept me when I say this. I am anti-science.” My heart sank in ways I cannot describe. I also haven’t really accepted it, so I guess I’m not that open-minded.
Still, I let him tell me the reasons he believes scientists have been too close-minded about vaccinations. He sent me a diagram of the differences between how many vaccination exposures we had as children compared to today. Here is 1983 directly from the CDC website:
Then he made me look at the schedule for 2015 which was the most recent the CDC had:
Then, he asked me to look at the scientific studies on vaccines and autism. I accessed what I could. I thought I was going to find a longitudinal study of babies who had shots versus babies who didn’t. That is not what I found. It is not possible for a person unconnected to academia to find such a study if it is available. Instead, I found studies that looked at whether having mercury in vaccine shots caused autism. That’s it. Nothing about what my brother was concerned about: that sheer overload of the immune system was what was causing autism. Potentially. He just wanted scientists to look at it more.
I wanted to tell them they had. I wanted to get the studies to prove it. It was not possible. Our publicly available science has poorly answered the questioned posed as the anti-vaxxers embrace bad science. It is frustrating.
In sum, I hail your article for everything that you said, and I’m sorry to tack on a rant of my own about this availability of scientific information. But you see, my brother. Sigh.