I took a great course last semester with Dr. Hurteau called “Science and Policy.” As all great classes do, it made me think deeply about my place in the world.
I learned that I would much rather be an “honest broker” than an “issue advocate”. In practice, that means providing ALL options that have been investigated by science AS WELL AS conveying how much confidence or lack there of that we have. In other words, we scientists come to the table to broaden the options. And then we let policy makers do something (or not) with that information. In contrast, an issue advocate picks the direction that they want and pushes for that outcome. In that case, that person is narrowing the scope.
Full disclosure, I have participated in the “graduate education day” at the New Mexico legislature, to raise awareness for the importance of government support of graduate education. That feels different to me than advocating for a particular solution to a policy problem.
I still, of course, hold my personal political and social views, and I can act on them as a citizen, but when I’m interacting with policy-makers as a scientist, I will be much more careful to prepare the widest possible scope.