What I Learned about Communicating Science out In the Field
My philosophy on Science Communication so far
In order to make science more accessible, relevant, and important to the general public we must, at least initially, ensure that they are well-versed and encouraged to understand and appreciate the scientific method / process more so than scientific content.
As I learned in one CST lecture, a survey conducted by the State Government found that an encouraging majority of 84% of the Victorian general public believed science and technology are improving society.
Furthermore, many love to keep up to date with science news, especially ethically challenging ones that relate to our daily lives like: human-driven climate change, stem cell research, genetically modified crops, to name but a few.
However, there is a danger of policy makers and the wider community not being able to separate the good and bad science related to so many of these important issues that affect our daily lives – not so much because they don’t understand the content, but more crucially because an understanding and appreciation for the scientific process, the passion to pursue evidence in a particularly rigorous way, has usually only been encouraged and nurtured in scientists.
Why should this be the case? The scientific evidence-based attitude of mind should be encouraged in all, young and old. Its main strength is its reliance on the results of experiments as evidence. Why is the attitude of mind that prioritises testing an idea as evidence to check claims, encouraged only in scientists?
The scientists’ disciplined and evidence-based way of thinking is useful, accessible, and applicable to everyone’s daily lives, regardless of one’s ultimate career aspirations.
Of course, science as a profession is not for everyone. But the spirit of objective, evidence-based investigation can empower all students of diverse backgrounds to make better decisions in all aspects of their lives, while also setting them up to engage meaningfully with almost any scientific topic that is important to the times or is just simply interesting to them.
This will sound familiar to you if you have seen my group’s presentation last week, but it’s a judgment that I have honed over the semester and consolidated considerably from my experiences communicating science at PHSC back in August – September. Taken together with my thoughts on the qualities that made Feynman the ‘Great Explainer’, adequately summarises where I stand on effective science communication.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed these blog posts and that they go in some small way in freeing you up and furthering you along on your own journey in doing the best science communicating that you can do.
P.S! Before it’s all over, what better way to finish the series that has revolved so prominently around the exemplary existence of Feynman as a scientist and science communicator, than an appearance by the man himself– as a ZOMBIE! Love it. Enjoy and all the best! 🙂