Inexact Science

Scientific knowledge is always contingent and uncertain, even when it’s the best we have. Should that factor into how we communicate science to the public, and if so, how? We discuss a recent article about the effects of communicating uncertainty on people’s trust in scientific findings and scientists. When should and shouldn’t scientists communicate uncertainty, and how should they do it? How should scientists prioritize keeping people’s trust versus being up front about what they don’t know? What are the different sources of uncertainty in scientific knowledge, and how should scientists deal with all of them? Plus, we get a followup letter from someone who asked about career support for a nonacademic partner – and they share what they learned and how things worked out.


The Black Goat is hosted by Sanjay Srivastava, Alexa Tullett, and Simine Vazire. Find us on the web at, on Twitter at @blackgoatpod, on Facebook at, and on instagram at @blackgoatpod. You can email us at You can subscribe to us on iTunes or Stitcher.

Our theme music is Peak Beak by Doctor Turtle, available on under a Creative Commons noncommercial attribution license. Our logo was created by Jude Weaver.

This is episode 79. It was recorded on April 27, 2020.