Between shouting matches and silence: fostering real dialogue with the public about animal research. Janet D. Stemwedel Sa...
 
The big questions: <ul><li>How to shift from the current state of play to more productive engagement (especially dialogue)...
Why dialogue? <ul><li>Dialogue is neither a high school debate nor a political point-scoring battle! </li></ul><ul><li>Dia...
Dialogue differs from debate. <ul><li>Debate assumes a winner and a loser. </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue assumes space to art...
Why bother with dialogue? <ul><li>Balancing competing interests is hard (and so requires good deliberation). </li></ul><ul...
A good place to see committed dialogue about animal research: <ul><li>The IACUC </li></ul><ul><li>Explicitly includes a ra...
Dialogues can be challenging! <ul><li>Require serious thought (even about your own position and reasons) </li></ul><ul><li...
Some frequent impediments to this kind of dialogue: <ul><li>Presumptive mistrust of “the other side” </li></ul><ul><li>Dis...
Scientists and animal activists see different facts. <ul><li>“ Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their ow...
Being clear about your positions. <ul><li>Inadequate regulations or inadequate compliance? </li></ul><ul><li>Animal welfar...
Recognizing the range of positions available, or represented.
<ul><li>The regulatory status quo  is  a compromise position! </li></ul><ul><li>(Regulations reflect something like public...
Tying together issues that are separable. <ul><li>E.g., Scientific questions that can’t be answered without animal use vs....
Tactics matter. <ul><li>Hard to give a position fair consideration if it is routinely advanced using questionable tactics ...
Tactics matter. <ul><li>Beyond the tactics I myself use to work toward the goal, what other tactics do I  accept  when use...
Tactics matter. <ul><li>If you can accept the end result accomplished with these tactics (even if others were the ones who...
Work to even make safe dialogue possible: <ul><li>Exposing the tactics that shut down willingness to participate in dialog...
With whom should we be in dialogue? <ul><li>Who do we want to reach? </li></ul><ul><li>Who  can  we reach? </li></ul><ul><...
Drawing people in from the sidelines. <ul><li>“ There are times when I have not trusted my actual dialogue ‘partner’ … but...
People worth drawing in: <ul><li>The general public </li></ul><ul><li>Students in classes that include animal use, knowled...
Whose responsibility to enter into dialogue? <ul><li>Personal safety is not a trivial concern </li></ul><ul><li>But, leavi...
It’s OK to: <ul><li>Voice concerns (about anticipated goalpost moving, whether dialogue partner will understand your point...
What counts as a positive outcome? <ul><li>Understanding each other better is real progress. </li></ul><ul><li>Understandi...
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Between shouting matches and silence: fostering real dialogue with the public about animal research.

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Some thoughts on how to create conditions where scientists and members of the public can have productive dialogues about animal research.

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  • Graph on the DrugMonkey blog in April, making a point about the three options offered by an LA Times poll on animal research that appeared with their coverage of the April UCLA Pro-Test rally. (http://scienceblogs.com/drugmonkey/2009/04/polling_attitudes_on_animals_i.php)
  • Quoted passage from a communication with Vance Ricks, philosopher at Guilford College. (Extended quotation, and my response to Vance, in this post: http://scienceblogs.com/ethicsandscience/2009/04/impediments_to_dialogue_about_6.php)
  • Between shouting matches and silence: fostering real dialogue with the public about animal research.

    1. 1. Between shouting matches and silence: fostering real dialogue with the public about animal research. Janet D. Stemwedel San José State University [email_address]
    2. 3. The big questions: <ul><li>How to shift from the current state of play to more productive engagement (especially dialogue)? </li></ul><ul><li>Who, in particular, to try to include in a dialogue of this sort? (Who to try to reach with such dialogue?) </li></ul>
    3. 4. Why dialogue? <ul><li>Dialogue is neither a high school debate nor a political point-scoring battle! </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue involves laying out positions, questions and really engaging with them. </li></ul><ul><li>Opponents vs. dialogue partners with shared responsibilities. </li></ul>
    4. 5. Dialogue differs from debate. <ul><li>Debate assumes a winner and a loser. </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue assumes space to articulate your position and your reasons for your position. </li></ul><ul><li>Dialogue also assumes listening, asking questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Goal is better understanding of everyone’s positions and reasons. </li></ul><ul><li>Disagreement at conclusion doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong! </li></ul>
    5. 6. Why bother with dialogue? <ul><li>Balancing competing interests is hard (and so requires good deliberation). </li></ul><ul><li>Better way to deal with disagreements than hoping they’ll go away (or turning to violence). </li></ul><ul><li>Keeps participants in touch with the complexities. </li></ul><ul><li>Makes it harder to dehumanize “the other side”. </li></ul>
    6. 7. A good place to see committed dialogue about animal research: <ul><li>The IACUC </li></ul><ul><li>Explicitly includes a range of interests and points of view. </li></ul><ul><li>In a broader sense, the dialogue includes not just committee members but also PIs, institutions, governmental agencies. </li></ul>
    7. 8. Dialogues can be challenging! <ul><li>Require serious thought (even about your own position and reasons) </li></ul><ul><li>Commit you to taking your dialogue partner seriously </li></ul><ul><li>Usually need something like ground rules and a facillitator </li></ul>
    8. 9. Some frequent impediments to this kind of dialogue: <ul><li>Presumptive mistrust of “the other side” </li></ul><ul><li>Disagreements about the facts </li></ul><ul><li>Tendency to tangle a number of issues together </li></ul><ul><li>Fuzziness about what’s actually being claimed </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of tactics on how the positions and the people advocating them are viewed </li></ul>
    9. 10. Scientists and animal activists see different facts. <ul><li>“ Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.” </li></ul><ul><li>Should be clear about where our facts come from. </li></ul><ul><li>Should be honest about where there are gaps in our knowledge. (Modeling intellectual honesty discourages goalpost shifting.) </li></ul>
    10. 11. Being clear about your positions. <ul><li>Inadequate regulations or inadequate compliance? </li></ul><ul><li>Animal welfare or animal rights? </li></ul><ul><li>What values are competing and how they get prioritized. </li></ul>
    11. 12. Recognizing the range of positions available, or represented.
    12. 13. <ul><li>The regulatory status quo is a compromise position! </li></ul><ul><li>(Regulations reflect something like public will here.) </li></ul>
    13. 14. Tying together issues that are separable. <ul><li>E.g., Scientific questions that can’t be answered without animal use vs. moral status of animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Separating them may help you find (limited) areas of agreement, even common ground moving forward. </li></ul>
    14. 15. Tactics matter. <ul><li>Hard to give a position fair consideration if it is routinely advanced using questionable tactics (especially violence and intimidation). </li></ul>
    15. 16. Tactics matter. <ul><li>Beyond the tactics I myself use to work toward the goal, what other tactics do I accept when used by others? </li></ul><ul><li>If your main concern is achieving the goal, are there tactics that you yourself would not choose that won't bother you terribly is the goal is achieved? </li></ul>
    16. 17. Tactics matter. <ul><li>If you can accept the end result accomplished with these tactics (even if others were the ones who actually used these tactics), is this relevantly different from supporting them? </li></ul>
    17. 18. Work to even make safe dialogue possible: <ul><li>Exposing the tactics that shut down willingness to participate in dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>Getting people to stop using those tactics (and to actively work against others' use of them rather than passively accepting whatever ground seems to be gained through their use). </li></ul><ul><li>Promoting rational engagement (especially where there is real disagreement) </li></ul>
    18. 19. With whom should we be in dialogue? <ul><li>Who do we want to reach? </li></ul><ul><li>Who can we reach? </li></ul><ul><li>Whose concerns ought we to hear? </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t want to waste time with people who won’t argue in good faith. </li></ul>
    19. 20. Drawing people in from the sidelines. <ul><li>“ There are times when I have not trusted my actual dialogue ‘partner’ … but where at the same time I knew that behind/beside/near that person, there were other people who I did trust slightly more – and so, I wasn’t really addressing my ostensible partner so much as I was addressing a range of people including that person.” </li></ul>
    20. 21. People worth drawing in: <ul><li>The general public </li></ul><ul><li>Students in classes that include animal use, knowledge built from animal research </li></ul><ul><li>Activists who are not extremists </li></ul><ul><li>Members of the scientific community who aren’t on the front lines </li></ul>
    21. 22. Whose responsibility to enter into dialogue? <ul><li>Personal safety is not a trivial concern </li></ul><ul><li>But, leaving your position to people who don’t value dialogue (or who rely on problematic tactics) has a cost </li></ul><ul><li>“ Playing a zone” in engaging with the public. </li></ul><ul><li>(Plenty of dialogue opportunities closer to home can support engagement with larger public) </li></ul>
    22. 23. It’s OK to: <ul><li>Voice concerns (about anticipated goalpost moving, whether dialogue partner will understand your point, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge anger, fear, frustration </li></ul><ul><li>Acknowledge where your knowledge is gappy </li></ul><ul><li>Identify areas of disagreement that are unlikely to be resolved by further facts or rational argument </li></ul>
    23. 24. What counts as a positive outcome? <ul><li>Understanding each other better is real progress. </li></ul><ul><li>Understanding the positions and reasons (even our own) better is progress. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeing the humanity of the people with whom we’re disagreeing is progress. </li></ul>

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