Scientists Political Positions
Scientists are often important players in the Government (see Part 3), especially when it comes to environmental actions. Many scientists have had significant effects on policies, such as Carl Sagan's work on the nuclear winter published in 1983 that proved influential in nuclear policies (he eventually modified the account). But despite some common thought otherwise, scientists do not always have completely neutral positions--in fact they rarely do. When political scientists talk about scientists in relation to government they refer to them having different positions:
The Pure Scientist: This scientist is unconcerned with politics. He merely tries to find the truth without regard to its political impact. If he finds that deforestation doesn't destroy species nearly as much as we thought, he will publish the finding without thought to how certain corporate bodies and interest groups will use the evidence to promote the continued deforestation (this was an actual case in the 90s, as cited in Kristin Shrader-Freschette's Ethics of Scientific Research).
Science Arbiter: This scientist is aware of the effect their findings has on science but generally stays away from political action. The science arbiter may take minor actions, such as taking care to phrase and explain the findings they publish so that they are harder to misuse, but they do so without getting involved in the mess of politics.
Issue Advocate: This scientist takes his science into the political arena and does so with a purpose, attempting to sway policy makers to a certain view. Often scientists become issue advocates because their findings are so significant to them that they feel they must do what they can to address the issue. A lot of scientists talking about global warming are issue advocates. Sometimes these scientists are open about their political positions, other times they are not. Those who pretend to be one of the other types but are really promoting one cause are called stealth advocates.
Honest Broker: This scientist is interested in the pure science and seeks to inform policy makers on the evidence but don't do it to promote a particular view. They honestly seek to marshall all the information they can and helping to connect scientific findings with public policy. Unfortunately these scientists are difficult to distinguish at times from stealth advocates. The ideal would be for scientists to work towards being honest brokers, so that the science becomes clear and untainted by predetermined political dispositions.