Tag Archives: science communication

Let’s talk about science

Quick quiz: Does the earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the earth? If you answered that the earth goes around the sun, congratulations! You scored better than 26% of respondents in the NSF’s 2014 Science & Technology: Public Attitudes And Understanding survey. Yes, let that sink in for a moment.

Storytelling and Science: The Unifying Theory of 2 + 2

storyHumans are great consumers of stories. We are fascinated with them and storytelling is a dominating force in many forms of media, engaging people from all demographics. Stories resonate with us and have the power to profoundly change our perceptions of the inner machinations of the world around us. Simply put: stories inspire thought. Perhaps unexpectedly, particularly in the face of stereotypes of scientists as Vulcanesque creatures, science necessitates a high level of adroitness in communicating ideas and concepts in a provocative way. Scientists tell stories every day to wide types of audiences. We write proposals and papers, give research talks, and discuss our work with colleagues and non-scientists alike. Moreover, we are tasked
with the Herculean challenge of motivating why our research is significant to the body of human knowledge and merits study, despite the fact that we are often among only a few handful of people in the world who are experts on the matter.

Though communication of such ideas to other scientists can be difficult, improving public awareness and understanding of scientific pursuits is an ever increasing pressure. We are presently living in a time where great efforts are being made to better STEM education in schools across the country and the impetus towards diversifying the faces of the scientific community is at the forefront of many minds. The need to connect with the general populous has become vital to catalyzing many of these changes. Yet, depictions of scientists in media often skew towards what I call the “genius stereotype”, whereby some people are simply born to do science (apparently severely lacking social skills to boot) and if you happen to not be born that way, the implication is you simply lack the aptitude for science. I believe that we, as scientists, have a social responsibility to break this wall and start engaging the public in meaningful ways. As you, dear reader, have undoubtedly guessed by now, I think that one of the most promising approaches to this end lies in the act of storytelling.