It looks us almost a hundred years to finally convince ourselves that atoms existed. Be patient.
It's simple. You want people to learn about science? Start sharing.
We need systems and expectations in place that filter out bad science from becoming public.
Sometimes you encounter people who believe differently than you do. I know, crazy, but let's explore the hypothetical scenario just in case it were to happen.
We’re taught that science is split between theory and experiment. This is…incomplete.
Peer review is an absolutely essential tool to the scientific machine, but it's also a human enterprise. It has flaws.
The phrase “popular science” has a benign enough definition: explaining science to the general public.
There’s a certain liberation in being able to constantly update your beliefs based on the evidence.
But we are not competing in the marketplace of commerce. We're competing in the marketplace of ideas.
So where do sensationalistic science headlines start? They start with the scientists themselves.
There are of course a few challenges to public outreach from the perspective of a scientist: difficulty in translating the jargon, fear of saying something inaccurate, discomfort in presenting to large crowds, and so on.
When we ask people to "trust" a particular scientist or result, we need to make sure that it's not the person itself that is necessarily deserving of trust, but the method and structures that they represent.
There's another source of bias that is much more pernicious and insidious. But it's surprisingly easy to find that source of bias: just look in the mirror.
Is the presentation of the data hiding something? Was anything excluded or minimized? Was anything glossed over? Was one part of the graph highlighted or emphasized to draw attention away from something else?
Take the case of the interior of a black hole (a question I get a lot). We'll never see inside a black hole, and if you were to visit one you would a) die horribly, and b) never be able to communicate your gruesome results to the outside world. So how do we know what's inside?
It's a part of the training to become a scientist, but it's not one you learn through any class. Instead, over the course of years you begin to recognize that what at first feels like harsh, personal critique is actually a vital part of the scientific process itself.
First off, the very act of using natural language to describe scientific concepts can be considered "dumbing down".
But we often hear the narrative that STEM literacy is declining, and that our mission is to fight that decline lest the general public becomes ignorant and afraid of the world around them. But here are three questions in response to that claim: 1) Can you actually reliably measure STEM "literacy"?, 2) Is it really declining?, and 3) Is that the true motivation of our mission?
So what to do? Well in the words of famed English novelist and critic George Orwell, "the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it."
So while many scientists agreed with the messages of the March, they didn't necessarily agree with the methods.