Despite what some *cough* recent books *cough* may say, science communication is just as good today as it always was. It’s only getting better.
Chris Hallquist feels that some people have been saying otherwise:
… I get the impression [Unscientific America] revives the current-science-communication-is-worthless line that Mooney, Nisbet, and their ilk have been using for awhile. This line is nonsense, and I know it’s nonsense because I know I’ve benefitted a lot from already-available popular science, and I’ve talked to other people who’ve benefitted from it.
Thus, I propose a blog project, a sort of one-shot carnival: write a blog post thanking popular science writers for whatever they’ve done for you…
Personally, I got into science-writing after reading Richard Dawkins‘ The Ancestor’s Tale. It was well after I became an atheist, and his few jabs at religion didn’t bother me at all.
That’s not a very interesting story, though, so I’ll tell another. It’s about a great science communicator whose name I don’t remember.
During my senior year of high school, my anatomy class went on a field trip to listen to the Man (I have no idea who he was) talk about the “latest science discoveries.”
This was just after the Human Genome Project made headlines. They had just announced the sequencing of the human genome, but beyond that headline, I didn’t understand many of the implications.
The Man who spoke explained to the audience of high-school students that we now knew approximately how many genes we had — far fewer than anyone had predicted. Our gene count wasn’t very different from that of corn. We shared many of our genes with mice and chimpanzees. It was overwhelming and incredible all at once.
The Man also spoke about theoretical approaches scientists were taking to “cure” or slow down the HIV virus.
After hearing that talk, my close friend Sacha was so inspired, she decided right then to become a pharmacist. (And she did!)
Science communication at its best involves passionate speakers, using terms everyone can understand, and inspiring them to learn more.
Carl Sagan did it. Neil deGrasse Tyson does it. The Man from my field trip did it.
Who inspired you? Share your story and let Chris know.