The Sciences

Good Communication is Good Scientific Practice

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyMar 23, 2011 1:20 PM


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Sometimes, it is important to make a very simple, basic argument--to outline a set of assumptions that are ever-present but too rarely stated. That's what I did in my latest DeSmogBlog item, explaining why the new emphasis on science communication is wholly merited:

The truth is that what scientists are learning right now about communicating will actually help them to fulfill a major civic responsibility they have—especially if they receive public research funding. The whole point of the government's funding of science is that the taxpayer supports work that's expected to create a payoff for society in some way—not necessarily immediately, or in a predictable fashion, but certainly work that is relevant (or could be) to social problems, to generating new innovations, and so on. In this context, it is essential for scientists to explain to citizens what it is that they’re doing with tax dollars: It’s part of the job description. It is even written into many government research grants—and it should be. It helps to promote accountability and responsiveness in a scientific community that, although often seemingly walled off in an "ivory tower," in fact is intimately tied to a non-scientific public in myriad ways.

I also give a basic but fundamental example of how different scientists and non-scientists are when it comes to what they expect from an act of communication. You can read the full post here.

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