59. Fear of loss of the social status by researchers
Social status is a basic good that people in society seek. In our society there are a number of themes of interest which are perceived to be the symptom of a certain kind of inferiority. People who are interested in these areas are automatically perceived as second-grade, mad, clowns, and marginal (and could be squeezed out of social niches where they reside). Other researchers will avoid contact with such people and avoid reading their papers. When such people lose status, they also lose the ability to inform the thoughts of officials in power. The study of global catastrophic risk sometimes falls into a category of status-lowering activity, but not always. Sir Martin Rees, former Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society (2005-2010) has recently taken a serious interest in global risk, and due to his extremely eminent stature, has only suffered from a minor drop in status, if any. Yet, there is still not enough of a critical mass of researchers in the area of global catastrophic risks to give it robust credibility.