Science Communication: A Duty of the Next-Generation Scientist

Author: Jessica Y. Chen (@BluntDrJChen)

Editors: Charles Lu, Ellyn Schinke, and Shweta Ramdas

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

It’s frustrating, as a scientist, to watch from afar as the claims of anti-vaxxers are given credence in many parts of the country, despite ample evidence suggesting that they’re not correct.

Why and how can so many people be misled?

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La ciencia tras bastidores: Correlación y causalidad

Escrito en inglés por Brian Moyers, traducido al español por Thibaut R. Pardo-García y editado por Attabey Rodríguez-Benítez.

Cuando hablamos sobre problemas científicos, la frase “correlación no implica causalidad” a veces es utilizada. Pero, ¿Qué significa esta frase? La ciencia hace declaraciones sobre causa y efecto. Por ejemplo, el fumar causa cáncer de pulmón, las emisiones de carbón causan cambios climáticos y altas temperaturas causan un aumento en violencia. Claramente, los científicos tienen alguna manera de inferir relaciones causales. Pero, ¿Cómo es que ellos luchan con la idea de que “Correlación no implica causalidad”? Si no utilizan correlación, ¿Qué herramientas utilizan para inferir causalidad?

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Conversations about Science Writing: Nick Wigginton

MiSciWriters member Kristina Lenn chatted with Nick Wigginton, the assistant vice president of research at the University of Michigan, about the importance of communication among researchers and the big responsibility science writers carry in the current political climate.

 

 Anyone who has ever done collaborative research can list the benefits of being able to work with another group and learn about the cultural differences between researchers. Dr. Nick Wigginton knows better than anyone else how important communication is to successful collaborations.

Prior to his tenure at Michigan, Dr. Wigginton received his doctorate in Earth Science, and his dissertation was a collaborative effort by his department, physics, chemistry, and biology. This interdisciplinary gauntlet gave him the tools he needed to succeed as an editor for Science magazine where he needed to address the research and cultures of multiple departments.

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#Scijack: Co-opting Twitter for Science Communication

Author: Ada Hagan

Editors: Whit Froehlich, Scott Barolo, and Irene Park

I doubt Dr. Shaena Montanari ever thought that a single Twitter conversation would earn her 3,000 new followers (1,000 within two hours) and help launch a new hashtag. But that’s what happened when she replied to a political tweet that mentioned velociraptors.

fig1 - scijackSource

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Opinion: The #Resistance Wears Lab Coats

Author: Ben Isaacoff

Editors: Irene Park, Ada Hagan, and Scott Barolo

President Donald J. Trump is wildly inconsistent on many issues. Under different circumstances, it might be amusing how often he contradicts himself. But one issue he has unfortunately been very consistent about is a dismissal of science and outright attacks on the scientific enterprise. The Trump campaign, his transition and appointees, and now his nascent administration, have deeply scared many of us who care about science.

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Science behind-the-scenes: Which fields are “real sciences”?

Author: Bryan Moyers

Content Editors: Christina Vallianatos, Molly Kozminsky

Senior Editor: Alisha John

 

 

Well, that field isn’t really science.”

Oh, that’s just a soft science.”

Most people who work in the sciences have probably heard phrases like these.  Translation: that field is lesser.  The physicists say it about everyone lower than them in the pecking order, as do the chemists, biologists, and so on down the line.  The nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford famously said, “All science is either physics or stamp-collecting.”  People argue about this at scientific conferences and in the media.   The science and pop-culture webcomic xkcd has even parodied the issue.

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Communicating science: From Michigan, across the world (wide web)

By Ada Hagan

“Most of the fundamental ideas of science are essentially simple, and may, as a rule, be expressed in a language comprehensible to everyone” – Albert Einstein

We’ve discussed it on the blog before, but science has a communication problem. Sure, research is performed and shared via research articles or at scientific conferences, but rarely do scientists directly relay results outside of their academic niches. Few scientists disagree with broader science communication in theory, especially since much of the funding for research is provided by taxpayer dollars. And we learned in our first “Science behind-the-scenes” post that the final step of the scientific method is to “communicate your results.” So why is it that researchers don’t interact more with non-researchers regarding science? Part of the issue is that the intense specialization of researchers into a narrow topic, combined with a lack of effective communication training, makes effective communication a difficult task.

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