Weekly Roundup 77

Science communication. The idea of trying to explain a scientific comment to some one who could be generously described as a layman. The ancient Greek scholars will all have learnt rhetoric and so I can imagine it was sufficiently easier for them to explain an idea to a group of citizens than it is for scientists now. Ultimately this blog can be seen as a form of science communication which aims to be a bit more advanced than the sensationalist science stories often found online. For instance typing in “physics” and checking on Google News posits “Have We Been Interpreting Quantum Physics Wrong The Whole Time?” to which the short answer is, probably not. The article is interesting and would certainly be good for a neophyte to science but doesn’t really cover any actual scientific points in any great detail (this is probably an unfair criticism as this particular article is actually considerably above average in this regard but generally the lack of detail is apparent in many newspapers’ science pages). Compare this to the original paper, which is perfectly legible to a scientist but becomes incomprehensible to an ordinary person about half way through the introduction. Bridging the gap between these extremes, and also talking about some more varied science rather than quantum, quantum, relativity and more quantum, would put us a long way forward towards public comprehension of science. The problem is there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do so. Scientists can’t be expected to start from first principles every time they write a paper and newspapers can’t be incentivised to write in even a mildly technical format when their reader’s average comprehension is below this. The only real solution is to start at the source and provide more thorough science education in school, which, as with seemingly all solutions, requires a lot of money.

Thank you to Natalie Wolchova for the science article which, as I’ve said, I’ve been a bit harsh to to make the point and thank you to Robert Brady and Ross Anderson for the scientific paper. Until tomorrow, goodnight.


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