Why is science communication important?
November 12, 2019
Why is science communication important? After all, scientists are really busy discovering important stuff, and there are already established ways of communicating with other scientists That said, science communication can be good for science, and the people who do it. It can help with funding — especially with broader impact statements, and non-traditional funding sources. And it can do wonders for your ego, if being a celebrity scientist’s your thing. Then, of course, effective science communication can help ensure decision makers pay attention, and even make science-based decisions! These reasons for communicating more publicly about science all have their place, but sometimes they’re more about the communicator, and less about the audience. Which can be a problem. For more audience-focused science communication, there are three “E’s” that are sometimes helpful The first is Enrichment. Science feeds our curiosity, and our sense of wonder and awe, and just like art, it helps us understand and appreciate who we are more. Then there’s Education. People need the skills, knowledge and insights that come from science if they’re to be part of building a future based on things that that actually work! And the third E is Empowerment. If we’re to have a society that’s guided by decisions that use evidence, not make-believe, decision makers need to be empowered through effective science communication. Of course, doing this well means listening to and engaging with people, not just talking at them. And we desperately need better training and communication opportunities for scientists, and an academic culture that respects and supports science communication. Because if we don’t, we’ll all be worse of for it!