over one of the columns, you get a pop-up that explains the finding in a sentence or phrase.

GAB – That’s terrific! I like the simplicity of the description, too.

BEN – Well, I didn’t forget your lectures about writing for a junior high reading level. You chopped up too many of my sentences after your program evaluated them as written for philosophy majors.

GAB – Well, I hope people of all reading abilities can use this tool, and especially kids who are in junior high. They’ve got more at stake here than adults do.

BEN – That is too true. Look, I’m so grateful for your help, and can hardly believe that we’re almost there. We’re almost ready for our launch. Now comes the biggest test of all: how will people respond to the real thing, when it’s really about their backyards.

GAB – I can’t wait to see.

FINAL COMMENTS

In the final session of The Science of Science Communications II colloquium’s second day, Dietram Scheufele, the John E. Ross Professor in Science Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, identified four themes that struck him forcefully over the course of the day.

The first involves the role that scientists should play as arbiters of what is knowable. With controversies over vaccines, for example, scientists can determine the probabilities of certain things happening given particular levels of vaccination in the population. However, the policy implications of this information must be worked out through the democratic process, not in the scientific arena.

Second, the social and behavioral sciences have a fantastic new source of information in the data being generated by social networks. By making the invisible visible, these data provide scientists with information that they have never had before.

Third, collaborations involving business, scientists, and science communicators offer great potential, and not only in areas where science can help business sell more products. The field of science communication has much to learn from business that could be both unanticipated and extremely useful.

Finally, ethical issues play a surprisingly large role in science communication. What can be done is not always what should be done. Science communication needs to be held to a higher standard than most other forms of communication. That may put science at a political disadvantage, but failing to maintain high standards puts science at risk.



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