I spent a long time thinking about how to engage meaningfully with nonscientists after the election (truth be told, I think a lot about engaging meaningfully with nonscientists all the time). And it turns out, the Nature Editorial Board is thinking about it too:
“Some would respond with ‘don’t bother’ — picking holes in science is just a ‘denialist’ tactic, and correcting such people will have no influence given the imminent new political shape of Washington DC. On the contrary, Nature persists in the belief that researchers who take action by engaging with people beyond their peers in support of the evidence can make a positive difference.”
Read about it over at Nature.
I hope that the current political climate has galvanized scientists in the US to become more engaged. To climb down from the Ivory Tower and get in the trenches of science communication. To fight for our funding, and for the future of scientific research in the United States.
Along those lines, you’ll be seeing a few “what can we do to help now” posts in the coming days. First up, from the American Naturalist blog, what can graduate students do in a science world that doesn’t always appreciate science.
- Stay focused
- Think of others
- Be cautious around undergraduates
- Explore your community & be an advocate
- Get better at communicating science
- Plan for the worst
How bad is climate change? How is it currently effecting coastal communities? What can we do to stop it?
An interesting blog post from the World Resources Institute addresses just these questions!
Check it out here, and keep looking out for garage octopuses.
The thing that scares me the most about the current political climate is the idea that we are living in a post-fact world.
As someone who works to validate evidence, and uses data to address question, the idea of coming to conclusion in the absence of such facts is terrifying, but the idea that other people don’t believe the evidence because it goes against their personal doctrine… I can’t express in words how fundamentally terrifying this has become.
Over at Scientific America, there is an excellent article about people who don’t believe facts and what’s to be done about how to proceed.
1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews.
Before 2016 ended John Hawks (Paleoanthropologist) asked the simple question on facebook:
“What questions in the science of human evolution have not received enough attention? Which ones should we be investigating in 2017?”
The answers will largely surprise you, and mostly revolved around trust. In the age of people doubting science and facts, these are important questions to be asking, and even more important for academics and scientists to be addressing.
Read the full article here.
Sea turtles are in trouble. They are notorious for swallowing things they shouldn’t and given the amount of plastic that ends up in the ocean this is unlikely to stop anytime soon.
But the baby sea turtle at aquariums, like the one at Monterey Bay, are helping people see the importance of protecting these curious little eaters.
Read about it over at Scientific American!
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The bird mask wearing plague doctor.
They stuffed the beaks of their masks with aromatic flowers, spices, and perfume to ward off disease carrying miasmas.
Their lenses were darkened to avoid the evil eye which could have allowed an evil spirit to enter their bodies and give them the plague.
They practiced bloodletting and turned to barbers to do surgeries on their patients.
By today’s standards their methods were wrong. But that’s not really the whole story. We have the benefit of years of experience and science to be able to say we know better.
And ultimately understanding how they came to the above conclusions allows us to look at science in general, and the scientific method in particular.
Read about it here!