Science Communication in Today’s Age

 

By: C’Aira Dillard

Science communication is so important in today’s world because science is something that is used in everyone’s daily lives and majority of individuals do not understand it. Everything revolves around science. Oceans, the brain, energy, nature, and anything else you could think of. Until I started this program, I had never really heard of science communication. I always thought it involved the analytics of science or data input. Simply typing numbers into an Excel spreadsheet about a particular experiment. After learning more about science communication, I realized that it was totally not what I thought it was. I noticed that I had seen it before, but never knew that it was called science communication. Science communication could be a person given a TED talk to an audience about a science topic, a scientist posting a blog about heart arrhythmia, or a scientist posting their article on Facebook so anyone could read it. I would define science communication as being a way of conveying scientific concepts to the average person, in a way they would be able to understand. The idea should not be too far fetched to where the receiver would not retain the information. The author should also know their audience, which will determine what type of social media platform should be used to spread their message. If the article or paper does not have much science jargon and is intended for the general public, I would suggest posting it on Facebook or Twitter. The audience would have easier access and be more compelling to read it. If the article is intended for other scientists, by all means post the article on a private website where only scientists are subscribed to. The sender needs to know their audience.  Also, the receiver should provide feedback about the message. Feedback can be distributed in many ways. One way is to provide direct feedback, such as you either understood the message or not. If the conversation was not face to face, the audience can demonstrate their feedback. For example, they could buy the product that is being sold or spread the intended message, among others.

Social media is a great way for people to spread their ideas, especially scientists. Not only are social media platforms a great way for scientists to spread their ideas, majority of people tend to get their daily news and simple information from social media. You do not hear much of the younger generation turning on the news to see what is going on in the world. They rely on social media to get all of their information. Scientists should be aware of this change for future generations. Staying up to date with society is key. Based on the prompt, “47% of Americans used social media to discuss or follow science.” If this is the way society is hearing and understanding science, scientists should change the way they target their audience. Move away from relying solely on scientific websites to publish scientific articles. Now, I am not saying to never post on scientific websites ever again but be cautious of your audience. The major downside to relying on social media is the misinterpretation and false information that is able to be published. You cannot believe everything on the internet. The audience should take a look at the authors credentials. What credibility does this person have to post an article about the effect of pollution and carbon dioxide levels on the oceans and sea life? Is the author an actual field scientist on this topic or an 8th grader writing a paper for environmental science class?  There is no filter on social media that can monitor what is true and false, or how accurate a person’s results are. The receiver of the message has to be able to take a further step to decipher which parts are true or not. Dig further to find if other scientists have similar results or if the results are drastically different. Also, it is so much easier to communicate and network with other scientists around the world through social media. If different scientists conducted a similar experiment, they could share their findings and data simply through Facebook or blogs. Blogs are helpful for scientists to communicate among each other and the general public.

Published by cairadillard

I am a rising sophomore at Johnson & Wales University majoring in Biology Pre-Med.

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