Chapter 10 of the report on the 2013 community summer study held at Snowmass, titled "Communication, Education, and Outreach" is available since Jan 24th in the Cornell ArXiv. It is a 26-pages document describing the importance of outreach activities to foster the development of particle physics, and offering ideas and strategies to improve the communication between scientists and policy makers. This is none other than the problem I have often referred to as the one of "filling the gap" between science and the general media.
I think the report is a balanced look at the situation and a fair attempt at showing in what way the gap could be narrowed; but I have some reservation on the emphasis it gave to different aspects of the problem. The document also provides some interesting data on the beliefs of particle physicists and their involvement with outreach and communication activities.
One important part of the report concerns the strategic issue of "Building support among policy makers and opinion leaders". Here the authors identify several recommendations. I am not too interested in this particular issue though, so I won't comment on this part further. I would just like to say that to me the one of "educating your congressman" is a distracting goal. Much more important than that would be to create the conditions for a change of our society, such that the next generation of congressmen are chosen also on the basis of their scientific literacy rather than the other way round. I really think we should work at the roots of the problem rather than finding ourself in the emergency of fixing the top as well as we can.
The text contains the word "blog" twice and Twitter and Facebook are mentioned once. I believe this is a measure of the fact that those media are not considered very important to the cause by the authors of the study, which is contrary to my own belief (as is obvious by the fact that I have been blogging for eight years now...). In fact, I do believe that the combination of social media and outreach activities such as blogs and articles on popular science magazines available online is one very important tool for the capillary diffusion of scientific literacy and ideas in support of basic research to the general public.
In the part titled "Building public appreciation for particle physics", which is more interesting to me, the report focuses on distinguishing the audience in categories - "popular science enthusiasts", "everyday people", "parents", "science skeptics", and "critics of public funding of science", for the purpose of trying to tailor to the different targets the outreach means and the messages to convey. I believe that this may be a good schematization, but I fear it sounds a bit like micromanagement to me. Besides, no single person belongs to one and only one of those above categories.
I would have preferred to see more focus on the improvement of the way we reach people based on the ways we have to reach them - i.e. the media. If we conquer the media, we reach everybody. Television, newspapers, facebook. Those are the ways, like it or not. Television is also mentioned just once in the report, while I believe it should still be one of our main concerns. There is too little good science in TV programs, and we do too little to increase that; of course, the problem in that case is how to make science entertaining, and that is a tough one - but until we face that we are doomed to lose.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Kudos To "The Independent" Newspaper For Debunking Nibiru "Blood Moon" Hoax
- It's Not The Nicotine: US Teens More Likely To Vape For Flavorings
- Your Microbiome Did Not Cause Your Weight Problem
- Control Cancer By Making The Tumor Cell Environment Hostile
- A Great Blitz Game
- On Sexuality, You Weren't Born That Way, Says Paper
- Beekeeping Fad And The Stress Of Traveling Is Harmful To Bees
- "Great, glad to hear it and thanks for signing the petition :)...."
- "Well, I´m not worried anymore about nibiru, because I know is a hoax afterall and also I sign..."
- "Thanks, Skynix, glad you like the articles. Yes of course, to many readers of Science20 then what..."
- "Yes that's a good point, the Moon can look reddish just as the sun does when close to the horizon..."
- "When will you people open your eyes and see that this is very much real and thats a FACT..."
- Gallup Poll: Great Example of How to Bias a Social Science Study
- Another Kardashian Craze Debunked
- Fad Friday: Ditch The Body Wrap!
- Commonly Cited Stat of 10 Bacteria for Every 1 Human Cell Is Wrong
- Why The EpiPen And Other Generic Drugs Are So Expensive
- Latest IARC Report Connects Fatness with More Cancers
- Solving a 48-year-old mystery: Scientists grow noroviruses in human intestinal cell cultures
- Scripps Florida scientists shed new light on the role of calcium in learning and memory
- Volcanic eruption masked acceleration in sea level rise
- Sunflowers move from east to west, and back, by the clock
- Earlier snowmelt reduces forests' ability to regulate atmospheric carbon dioxide