chapter  6
Contested Boundaries
How Scientists Deal with Uncertainty and Ambiguity in Language
ByPriya Venkatesan Hays
Pages 13

Language is a tool for scientific production. Language allows scientists to get their message across and communicate their findings, and it plays a key role in the process of building scientific arguments and shaping scientist's ideas. Language is not only a tool of science but serves as a context in which science develops. However, language in its malleability and fluidity sometimes manages to get out of control from the hands of scientists. This article is a study of how language escapes the rigidity of scientific work and serves as a means by which science expresses doubt, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Interestingly, while many politicians have embraced this doubt, particularly in debates about climate change, scientists, in positivist fashion, have engaged in meaningful efforts to erase ambiguity and uncertainty in their work. In fact, on the question of uncertainty, ambiguity, and doubt in scientific language, politicians and scientists seem to be on opposite ends of the epistemological spectrum.