Talking about science, evolution with the public

Monday, July 20, 2009 at 11:19 PM Bookmark and Share
Anyone who works in a specialized field (e.g. law, neuroscience, chemical engineering, etc.) knows that talking about the details of their specialty with the public is hard. There's a lot of basic background, jargon and important yet subtle details that often need explaining, and many experts often fail to recognize these as barriers to clearly communicating what it is that they do and why it's important.

So how well do we talk about evolution in the public sphere? Well, all too often, not so well. For starters, the wise old advice to "know your audience" is a good place to start. Are you talking to a bunch of computer scientists, or a bunch of people who haven't taken a science class since the 1980s and don't believe in evolution for religious reasons??

While there's plenty to be said on communicating science to the public, I just wanted to pass along a few words by Eugenie Scott on the issue:
Accept it: Talk about evolution needs to evolve
By Eugenie Scott
August 1st, 2009 - ScienceNews

2 comments:

Posted by: David Steen | 7/22/2009 11:40 PM

Useful article. I will be referring back to it.

There are a handful of recent books that tackle the subject well. Jerry Coyne and Ken Miller, for example, have a demonstrated ability to communicate evolution to those who may not initially 'accept' it. Although authors such as Richard Dawkins write well (and to my mind, on point) I would never recommend his books to someone who knew little of the subject...

Posted by: Paul | 5/13/2010 9:28 PM

Original Date: 7/23/2009 12:26
Yeah, folks like Don Prothero, Jerry Coyne, Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, and a few others do a good job at reaching out to that crowd.

People like Dawkins tend to focus too much on peoples' core religious beliefs, which is pretty non-productive in most situations. I think the British accent might also rub some Americans the wrong way - draws up too many stereotypes or something ;)

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