Tag: Science communication

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?

Science behind-the-scenes: (Almost) Everything grade school taught you about science is wrong

By Bryan Moyers

Do you remember being taught the “Scientific Method” in school? There were always slight variations, but it went something like:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Do background research
  3. Form an educated guess (hypothesis)
  4. Test your hypothesis by doing an experiment
  5. Analyze your data and draw a conclusion
  6. If your hypothesis is wrong, return to step 3 with a new hypothesis.
  7. Communicate your results

These steps seem like a great tool to introduce students to science.  They’re simple and easy to understand once the teacher explains words like “hypothesis” and “experiment”.  If you’re like me, perhaps you remember it seeming straightforward—scientists follow a linear set of steps that produce powerful results. Teachers drilled that method into us grade after grade.  If only they weren’t completely wrong.

It’s a zoo out there: Breaking down communication barriers

By Alisha John

Despite countless trips to zoos across the country, there is one elusive species I have never encountered: Scientia normalis. This species is more often referred to by their common name, scientists. Scientists are not normally seen in public, often preferring to remain in their native habitat of the laboratory. Because of this, stereotypes dominate the perception of the entire species and are often reinforced in popular culture and the media. These stereotypes depict a species of mostly older males with unruly hair, glasses, a white lab coat, and a vial of brightly colored liquid. (*cough* Albert Einstein *cough*) Recently, however, there has been an effort to remove some of the mystery surrounding this species and correct the outdated stereotypes.

scientist

Scientia normalis archetype. Image source

Health literacy — It ain’t just about education

By Silver Lumsdaine

Literacy Drug_Package_Insert

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration – Drug Package Insert (FDA 115)

“The great enemy of communication…is the illusion of it.” –William H. Whyte

What if 9 out of every 10 Americans had trouble understanding and responding to ordinary traffic signs? It would be a national emergency, of course. Imagine the chaos, the crashes, and the loss of life that would occur if people didn’t know how to interpret stop signs, one way signs, do not enter signs, speed limits, and sharp curve ahead warnings. The public’s health and safety would be in grave danger and immediate action would be required.

Keep it simple: Explaining (science) with only the ten hundred most used words

By Alisha John

 

Simplify_Desktop_WP_JonAshcroft

Image credit: Jon Ashcroft

 

“So, what do you do for a living?”

It’s a simple question you’ve probably heard more times than you can count, but it isn’t necessarily easy to answer. When you’re a scientist, jargon is king in your day-to-day interactions. A seemingly simple question like this can induce an internal battle between the highly technical, scientific part of your brain and the social part that wants to relate to people outside your area of study. Winning that battle is only achieved by effectively communicating your work with people outside your field.

Under the hood: Why scientists are a great fit for science communication

By Ada Hagan

 

 

Imagine this. The check engine light comes on in your car.

You drive it to an auto parts store to get the check engine code read free of charge and an employee gives you their best guess for the needed repair. Feeling you have the solution, you drive to your local repair shop (that would have charged $100 to read the code!) and request the repair.

Proud of your resourcefulness, you pay, pick up your car and leave with a swagger to your step.

Until 3,000 miles later when the check engine light comes on. Again.