Miscommunication Within Science and Advocacy

cartoon-global_warming_politicsShould scientists be tooting their own horns?  In the past, scientists were much more involved in the public side of their research.  As we learned in class, those scientists involved in the hot science topics of the day would be responsible for explaining their progress.  They would be responsible for explaining their new findings to the public, or at least having someone compile work for them to explain to media, boards in charge of funding, or just on television or in newspapers.  Today, with the innovations of new technology this role of scientists has basically become obsolete, as well as the ideas about science all together.  The internet in now a much more accessible area for news and the changing ideas about scientists, and the public finds these sources increasingly reliable, despite their decreasing factuality.

Without the need to be their own spokespersons, it is now the job of another outside party, advocates, to go around goading people to understand the importance of innovations.  With this “middle” from the research to the public eye there is some area for confusion.  A sort of scientific telephone, you could say.  With implementing others to be activists for the work you do, you are allowing the possibility for different interpretations of your work.  The advocates might take your research and come to a different end or find a different side to your argument made with conclusions of your studies.  This could compromise the way the public sees you, and science in general.  The other side of it is that now scientists are less equipped to “deal with” the media and the public.  How is it possible to play the game of getting your point across while making it seem important and relevant?  Advocates are seemingly much more qualified for this position.  Would it really be better for scientists to stay in the lab, and trust those more knowledgeable about the media and public relations to convey your point?  Or is it better to bridge the gap between advocacy and science, and have both of these groups working together, or cut out advocates all together and have scientists know how to communicate as well as they know how to perform experiments and field work?  This is a growing issue in science today, and the answers to these questions could give insight to the future of those in majors related to science, with increasing reliance on the humanity side of study.  For now, we are stuck where there is so much false information out there, and so many people assuming everything they read is true.

Annelise Wilimitis (Blog #4)

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3 thoughts on “Miscommunication Within Science and Advocacy

  1. You bring up a great point about the role of scientist and the media. Should scientist just stick to what they know and stay in the lab and trust others to communicate there findings correctly. Or should they take a role in informing the public on there studies. I think that maybe somewhere in the middle is what needs to happen. Both journalist and scientist report on what is found. I think this would possibly bring a balance to the miscommunication that is happening today.

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  2. Your entire post is interesting to me because in an article I read, there is an opinion shared that scientists are partially to blame for the gap between science and the public through media. I agree that hearing the information directly from someone who researched the topic more reputable, but at the same time, the media sometimes already tries to disguise representatives as such. For example, the pharmaceutical statin commerical we watched in class where the “doctor” they had promoting their drug was not actually a licensed, practicing doctor.

    http://www.bu.edu/research/articles/social-media-distort-misinform-when-communicating-science/

    Amanda Hecker

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