Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For KVMR folk, on science communication - excellent piece by Chris Mooney

Excerpts from Good Communication is Good Scientific Practice: (emphases added)
...this point about communication... is ... naive or worse--this contention that somehow, climate scientists are dirtying themselves because they now want to communicate to the public. Or that they're just trying to become better spin-meisters.

... Climate scientists overwhelmingly feel they’ve failed to reach the public and to explain their work to them, and polling data strongly supports this concern

...imagine that you’re a scientist, and you're aware that it's imperative to explain what you do, and why it matters, to non-scientists.

When it comes to scientific topics, citizens—and journalists, and policy-makers--want to know what the bottom line is, in plain language. They want to know why a topic matters, who it affects, what we can do about it. And can you blame them for feeling this way? There is a lot out there to pay attention to. We're all suffering from information overload, all the time.

...[Scientists, in communicating, have to learn to put the conclusion first--followed by the details, because] what non-scientist is going to follow all the steps, trying to keep up with all the jargon and alien terms... without even knowing where it is all going to lead and why it matters?
...once you understand why the details matter, you are more likely to grow interested in them and want to learn more.

...making science more relevant to the public that is affected by it is ...[essential]. Science matters; the public both needs and also deserves to know this; and scientists need to help them understand why.

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