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What is an activist scientist?

What is an activist scientist?

Nicholas Goldberg: Can scientists moonlight as activists — or does that violate an important ethical code?

By Nicholas Goldberg

In a recent interview with The Guardian, scientists Stephen Hawking and Brian Cox, along with Richard Dawkins, who were awarded the Nobel Prize for their contributions to modern biology, noted that the current age of science is as much about activism as it is about research. They said, “Scientists, more than anybody else, must be willing to challenge the status quo. Scientists need to be activists, not just about science.”

The concept of activism, or political activism, is one of the most controversial in terms of whether or not it should be pursued in the sciences. In many cases, scientists have become activists, but how and when? Can scientists really moonlight as activists? Is it permissible for scientists to use their expertise and experience for any cause the public chooses to champion?

We have known for ages that scientists are not just researchers; they are also activists and activists are defined by a variety of definitions. When we asked a physicist and an activist what the differences between them are, the answers we received were often quite different.

When we ask about activism in the context of science, we are often met with the same questions: “What is activism?” “What is a scientist activist?” If we could boil it down to one question, we would have “Who is a scientist activist?”

The idea of an activist scientist is quite interesting because it is not a question that has a simple answer to it. In fact, it is a pretty complicated question. And as many have discovered, it is not easy to answer.

Why is activism so controversial?

Activism is a response to a specific problem or event. This does not mean that the problem could only come from the government and that activists do not face problems that government officials do. The fact that it is controversial is not a flaw in it. Many scientific activists have found themselves in many different types of situations, and to be an activist, one must find something to work with. Some call this “finding the cause”.

In the case of science, the causes that are more commonly found are environmental contamination, climate

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