Citizen Science restores trust in science; isn’t exploitative

A recent review comment made the claim that Citizen Science (referring to my Jungle Rhythms project) is exploitative. With due diligence on part of researchers, not only is this comment misguided, it also is a testament to a pervasive ivory tower way of thinking about science.

Science is often perceived as a field of the select few with limited interaction between the scientific world and the public. Or as aptly put in the Guardian Science section: “Science is the invisible profession. Most people have no idea what scientists do, and may harbour a vague feeling of suspicion or uneasiness about the whole endeavour.”

This lack of transparency has been abused many times over to create doubt and confusion in order to push a political agenda, fueling among others climate skepticism. In addition, a lack in transparency and limited communications creates a less educated public and one which is less used to dealing with complexity.

Citizen science provides a way to counter all these issues. It allows citizens to actively contribute to science, directly communicate with scientists and at times attain PhD worthy knowledge through self-study. In today’s society with increasing distrust in science through fake news and “alternative” facts this direct and transparent communication about science between scientists or science communicators and the public is key to retain or restore trust in science.