Who Needs to Change?

Carl Zimmer, on The Loom, writes about A Flock of Dodos, and comments on scientists who are portrayed in the movie as “inarticulate and high-handed.” Zimmer expands on this topic in a very balanced way, I think, but I question what is expected of scientists in terms of public relations.

I know well from my own field that those who do the best work in their field are often not the best people to present it to the uneducated. If you expect all scientists to learn to speak publicly like Kenneth Miller, then many of them are going to have to take time away from research and from teaching other people to be good scientists.

I know I harp on this topic, but the bottom line here has to be education, especially science education, starting from elementary school. Most people, and most politicians claim that education is our priority in this country, but the actual state of education doesn’t reflect a high priority. Scientists would be able to communicate scientific ideas much more easily if the public was conversant with basic scientific concepts.

Of course, in a democracy, we need to educate the public in order to get the funding and the standards for the needed education, but that is a task for all of us, not just those in the scientific disciplines. I certainly hope this task can be accomplished.

(See my previous essay, Make Education a Priority.)

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