Science communication

On making people feel they are smart enough to teach themselves, or failing that, that they are smart enough to fund YOU to teach yourself



Philosophy of

For people who wish to learn actionable skills we have teaching. But for people who have not yet decided to learn a thing, we have science communication.

The most generous interpretation of the purpose of science communication I think regards the public as people who are ready and curious to learn about the world with just a little bit pre-digestion of the science out of respect for their busy schedules.

A less generous version regards the public as the funders of science who should be pacified with a little infotainment so they will keep funding the real scientists to do real work.

Perhaps less generous still, science communication might be the supplier of trite factoids to make the audience sound clever when they regurgitate it somewhere else.

Most cynically of all, good science communication practice is a tool that can be weaponized in information warfare, for example in pseudo-scientific conspiracy theorizing.

I prefer to focus on the first use case, because I do not have the stomach for the others. I am not raising funding for a startup heading to an IPO, which is the only thing that would pay me enough to swallow my pride for the next two use cases. The last case I would reserve for a case of actual outright war.

I am currently implicated somewhat in what I hope is the first use case, so here are some useful links for my own reference.

Interesting examples of

acapellascience.

References

Cook, John, Stephan Lewandowsky, and Ullrich K. H. Ecker. 2017. “Neutralizing Misinformation Through Inoculation: Exposing Misleading Argumentation Techniques Reduces Their Influence.” PLOS ONE 12 (5): e0175799. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0175799.
Delfanti, Alessandro. 2020. “The Financial Market of Ideas: A Theory of Academic Social Media.” Social Studies of Science, October, 0306312720966649. https://doi.org/10.1177/0306312720966649.
Gasparyan, Armen Yuri, Alexey N. Gerasimov, Alexander A. Voronov, and George D. Kitas. 2015. “Rewarding Peer Reviewers: Maintaining the Integrity of Science Communication.” Journal of Korean Medical Science 30 (4): 360–64. https://doi.org/10.3346/jkms.2015.30.4.360.
Nyhan, Brendan. 2021. “Why the Backfire Effect Does Not Explain the Durability of Political Misperceptions.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (15). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1912440117.
Reyna, Valerie F. 2021. “A Scientific Theory of Gist Communication and Misinformation Resistance, with Implications for Health, Education, and Policy.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118 (15). https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1912441117.
Tamariz, Monica, T. Mark Ellison, Dale J. Barr, and Nicolas Fay. 2014. “Cultural Selection Drives the Evolution of Human Communication Systems.” Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 281 (1788): 20140488. https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.0488.
Ureña, Raquel, Gang Kou, Yucheng Dong, Francisco Chiclana, and Enrique Herrera-Viedma. 2019. “A Review on Trust Propagation and Opinion Dynamics in Social Networks and Group Decision Making Frameworks.” Information Sciences 478 (April): 461–75. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ins.2018.11.037.

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