Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to by Cornelia Dean

By Cornelia Dean

What we don’t understand can damage us—and does so each day. weather swap, future health care coverage, guns of mass destruction, an getting older infrastructure, stem phone examine, endangered species, area exploration—all have an effect on our lives as voters and humans in sensible and profound methods. yet until we comprehend the technology in the back of those concerns, we can't make average decisions—and worse, we're prone to propaganda cloaked in clinical rhetoric.

To exhibit the proof, this booklet indicates, scientists needs to take a extra energetic position in making their paintings available to the media, and therefore to the general public. In Am I Making Myself Clear? Cornelia Dean, a wonderful technology editor and reporter, urges scientists to beat their institutional reticence and allow their voices be heard past the discussion board of scholarly booklet. through delivering worthy tricks for making improvements to their interactions with policymakers, the general public, and her fellow newshounds, Dean goals to alter the perspective of scientists who scorn the mass media as an enviornment the place very important paintings is simply too frequently misrepresented or hyped. much more vital, she seeks to persuade them of the worth and urgency of speaking to the general public.

Am I Making Myself Clear? exhibits scientists the right way to converse to the general public, deal with the media, and describe their paintings to a lay viewers on paper, on-line, and over the airwaves. it's a ebook that would enhance the tone and content material of discussion over serious concerns and should serve the pursuits of technology and society.

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Additional resources for Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

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Tails. Journalists look for a quick overview. For journalists, details aren’t just a nuisance, they can positively interfere with our telling a coherent story. Researchers and journalists often differ markedly in where they draw the line between crucial details and needless clutter. Perhaps because of their funding environment, researchers emphasize questions, not answers. New findings may elucidate a little more of the known world, but their true practical effect may be to open the door to new questions worthy of new research—and new grants.

And when we journalists are unable (or unwilling) to judge for ourselves, we often fall back on he-said-she-said reporting. In effect, we turn the whole question over to our readers (or listeners or viewers), who probably have even less basis for judgment than we do. ” Sometimes the consensus is wrong, sometimes spectacularly wrong. I am thinking of the Australian doctors who insisted that stomach ulcers could be caused by infection with a particular microbe, Helicobacter pylori, and were roundly ridiculed by mainstream 52 the problem of objectivity science—until their idea proved so correct it won them a trip to Stockholm and a medal presented by the king of Sweden.

Could you do it? No matter what you may think, the answer is no. The science we consider as citizens is not the facts collected in the textbooks we read in school, but rather the cutting-edge findings that confront society with new issues. A technologically literate public must have some understanding of the scientific method and some knowl- 22 know your audience edge of statistics. Members of this public must know the difference between value judgments and statements of fact, between hypothesis and theory (in the scientific sense).

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