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    Richard Chatwin said:

    Important points raised there and a good read- especially around scientists out past peer reviewed journals and research articles.

    One thing I would like to add to the goals of ‘communication shift’ highlighted above is that we should not forget about the basics of science- the stuff that is taught in schools and universities. A lot (A LOT) of people won’t know this or will have forgotten it, and yet this content forms the building blocks of the more current/new research being done.

    If we want to open dialogues with the public around issues that impact society, such as climate change, it will be far easier to have if the basics are understood – eg: the carbon cycle.

    The way to do this is to make communicating the basics more pervasive in society. Unfortunately the basics don’t make very newsworthy stories, so don’t get featured in traditional science sections of newspapers. However there are still some good online blogs out there which discuss the background to specific scientific areas, without relying solely on ‘new’ developments in the field.

    One way to think about it would be ‘systemic review’ type pieces for the public. Without worrying the new research, first summarise the basics of the field. That way the dialogue can be much more open because there is an underlying understanding on both sides.

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    Dan Hicks said:

    It’s good to see practicing scientists thinking hard about the social value of science and science communication. However, I think this post is still limited, especially with respect to science communication. Name, this post seems to assume that science communication is a one-directional affair, going from “scientists” to “non-scientists,” “society,” or “the public.” This is problematic first because neither “scientists” nor “the public” are homogeneous masses. Many ecologists and environmental chemists, for example, entered their field because they’re devoted environmentalists. This is very different from the motivations that lead people to become high-energy physicists or network theorists. On the other side, communicating with powerful industry representatives or policymakers is very different from communicating with blue-collar workers or community organizers.

    The second problem with this assumption is that “scientists” — whoever that is in a given case — often have a lot to learn from “the public” — whoever that happens to be. See, for example, Steven Epstein’s book /Impure Science/, about the role of activists in AIDS research, or the significant scholarly literature on environmental justice and community-based research. In the jargon of my field (philosophy of science), scientists have one kind of epistemic authority, but so do many non-scientists.

    All together, I think a minimally adequate conception of “science communication” needs to be specific and needs to recognize that communication is about conversation, not lecturing.

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