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Differentiating Public Opinion and Common Sense

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" If we believe that research findings should prevail over public opinion or common sense, then how do we respond effectively as researchers to ensure that bias from our own participation in public discourse is eliminated?

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I'm not 100% sure of what you're asking here. All I can see is that even good researchers have biases and emotions, so, in our own public activism, how do we avoid promoting that bias? (Am I right here?)

If so, then we're talking about the role of the "public intellectual" that is, the scholar who also has a strong public role. Think of Noam Chomsky here, or even the late Allan Bloom or Edward Said.

Here's a decent article to start: http://icps.gwu.edu/files/2010/11/PI.pdf (It's a symposium on precisely these issues).

Etzioni, A. Reflections of a Sometime-Public Intellectual. PS. October 2010: 651-655
Orfield, G. A Life in Civil Rights. PS October 2010: 661-670

The professional researcher does have a certain responsibility to the public. This responsibility is based on the fact that the real scholar is capable of data gathering, definition and analysis far beyond the typical layman's ability. This contributes to the public debate by placing in public view the normally esoteric data for any specific issue area. In maintaining a scientific and objective approach to the data, the intellectual can fall on one side or another of an important issue without sacrificing his or her integrity as a scholar. In other words, the responsibilities of the scholar in public ...

Solution Summary

The solution differentiates public opinion and common sense. How we respond effectively as researchers to ensure that bias from our own participation in public discourse is eliminated is determined.

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