Thursday, February 5, 2015

We Need to Trust Science

One of the reasons I became so passionate about Scientific Communication during my transition into Interdisciplinary Studies was the realization of how increasingly important it is. The way science is presented to the general public is the key to having the information understood correctly.

According to this article by Smithsonian, people respond more strongly to the term Global Warming than the term Climate Change, even though they mean the same thing. Apparently, when people hear Global Warming they are more able to directly associate it literally as the world is warming up, and that makes it more relatable and identifiable to them. Or they think so because everyone else does. The article states that in the past ten years people Googled Global Warming more, use it more in conversation, and rank it as a higher priority for elected officials than Climate Change.

Basically what this all proves is that terms like this can have a certain initial effect on people that spreads like wildfire throughout the media and can even spread panic for the wrong reasons when it's not necessary. We also saw this sort of thing happen when the Ebola cases started in the US. Science told us that we had nothing to worry about, but regardless people still panicked. When scientists are faced with an issue or a new discovery, the way they present it to the public needs to be taken into careful consideration. Even though these two phrases mean the same exact thing, a different interpretation is created for each term.

This can be difficult though because there's great diversity in how people perceive science. People apparently don't seem to trust scientists, according to this article. This is a whole different story, but more reason to find communication of science to be so important! Science drives everything, literally everything. If we can't trust scientists, or understand science as a whole, then it's harder to progress as a society. Science without communication might as well just be complicated algorithms and gibberish because more times than not, the audience member does not have a Master's degree in Astrophysics. This is exactly the reason that the interdisciplinarity of science and communication is so crucial to modern society.

http://speakersofscience.com/notes-from-the-editor/science-communication-communication/

6 comments:

  1. I think your point on global warming is spot on. The climatologists are important, for sure, but without the journalists, it seems unlikely that there would be funding for the kind of research we need to stop climate change. Without a public understanding of the issue, all the best science in the world probably can't save us. I can really see you making a difference in the world with this degree, Izzy. Your timing is perfect.

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    1. Exactly! It's the only way science is going to continue to get funding. And thank you, I'm going to try! :)

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  2. I find it very interesting that people respond more to the term global warming. I wouldn't think of that. And yeah people tend to be influenced by media and they panic a lot and that's why many things are kept in secret because of this reason.
    The problem with people is that they don't have enough knowledge about particular problem. For this reason, your interdisciplinary perspective is becoming essential. It is important to know how to present the information to ordinary people. The proper communication is the key. Good luck with your major!

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    1. Thank you! That's exactly it, people freak out when they don't understand so it's super important!

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  3. I could not agree more with what you say in post Izzy! It is very difficult for scientist for find the best way to present information to public. It seems to go two ways: the public panics or the public does not react at all. We need to find a way to get that trust between public and scientists and communication is at the heart of it. I really enjoyed this blog post!

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  4. Thanks Heather! Awesome scientists like us will find a way (;

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