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A Nuclear Winter's TaleScience and Politics in the 1980s$
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Lawrence Badash

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012720

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012720.001.0001

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Concern about the Good Name of Science—and with Getting the Message Across

Concern about the Good Name of Science—and with Getting the Message Across

(p.77) 6 Concern about the Good Name of Science—and with Getting the Message Across
A Nuclear Winter's Tale

Lawrence Badash

The MIT Press

As more and more scientists gained experience in the application of science in support of public policy, their involvement in politics often generated a positive response. However, the old professional ethos of simply doing good science and respecting the mores of the profession was no longer enough. Scientists also now had to maintain science’s good name in the eyes of the public. This chapter examines the controversy involving nuclear winter scientists, particularly the TTAPS team at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (comprised of Richard Turco, Owen Brian Toon, Thomas Ackerman, James Pollack, and Carl Sagan). It looks at how scientists strive for early publication of their work and whether the TTAPS team violated the (imprecise) norms of the scientific community with their public announcement that nuclear winter conditions were a likely consequence of nuclear war. It also discusses the reaction of the news media to the issue of nuclear winter.

Keywords:   nuclear winter, nuclear war, science, scientists, news media, publication, politics, Carl Sagan, Richard Turco, James Pollack

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