Technical Controversies over Public Policy: From Fluoridation to Fracking and Climate Change

Technical Controversies over Public Policy: From Fluoridation to Fracking and Climate Change

by Allan Mazur

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Newspapers and TV often report controversial risk warnings over technological innovations, scientific developments, or environmental hazards that have at their core a dispute between experts who contradict one another not only on preferred policy but also on the scientific facts that underlie decisions about public policy. Recent examples are the disputes about climate change, fracking, vaccination and autism, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Adversaries mobilize constituents with similar interests or ideologies, form opposing coalitions, and compete for media exposure. They articulate arguments and counterarguments. "Facts" become malleable, differently appraised by each side. Uncongenial evidence is ignored or discredited. For many adversaries, winning the policy argument is primary; evaluating the true degree of hazard is secondary. How can we determine which side’s "facts" are right and which wrong? Do news media enlighten the public or worsen polarization? Can policymakers deal with controversial science and technology more cogently than they do now?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781351593021
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 08/29/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 190
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Allan Mazur is Professor of Public Affairs at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Table of Contents


Part I. Preliminaries

1. The Controversy over Climate Change

2. Technical Controversies May Be Good, If They End Well

Part II. The Age of Heroic Engineering and the Age of Technical Controversy

3. The Age of Heroic Engineering

4. The Age of Technical Controversy

Part III. Facts in Dispute

5. Disputes Between Experts

6. Separating Disputes over Facts from Disputes over Values

Part IV. Participants

7. Partisans

8. Beliefs

9. Social Links among Controversies

Part V. Protest Movements

10. Growth of Protest

11. Mass Media: Quantity of Coverage Theory

12. The Fracking Controversy

13. Seriously Science-Driven Policy


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