Get all up in your science – five ways to access science information
Learning about science from a scientist is easy… if you know where to look.
I’m involved in a lot of outreach events, and I find that people are eager to learn about science but don’t always know where to start.
So here’s my Dave Letterman style top five easy ways get your science right.
Number 5. The Nobel prizes:
An easy way to learn about what scientific community is excited about, and they are very well covered and explained. For example, see my last post and these pages.
Number 4. The IGnoble prizes:
This ceremony recognizes valid, but ridiculous sounding research.
For instance, this year’s IgNobel physics prize acknowledges the study of the friction coefficient of a shoe on a banana peel, and the friction coefficient of the banana peel and… the floor.
Number 3. Get your sources right.
While journalists do their part to get science news out there, in this crazy 24/7 news cycle, it’s not always easy for them to get it exactly right. So be very critical of what you read, and if you can, go back to the source. Here’s a few ways how:
– Read tweets from science organizations (@who, @BBSRC, @EbolaAlert…),
– follows associations like the excellent Sense about Science which aims at giving people the tools to investigate science claims,
– And my favorite : askascientist.co.uk who bring scientists and laypeople closer together by answering questions online.
Number 2. Demand that everyone get their sources right.
I recently went to a workshop aimed at encouraging scientists to speak to the media called “standing up for science“. There I learned that as I scientist, I should make my voice heard, or someone less informed might speak for me. Indeed, many scientists like myself think that our voice isn’t strong enough to make a difference. That’s where you can help, by demanding that scientific claims be attested to by scientists. Give scientists a voice!
For exemple, you could learn about the #AskForEvidence campaign, This campaign gives a platform for people to challenge dubious scientific claims. It is supported by notable personalities like Daren Brown, Colin Blakemore and Dara Ó Briain.
And finally (drumroll please) Number 1. Get the word out: scientists want to talk to you!
Scientists are not nerds… Well, they are, but they are not crazy people… Well, once again…
One thing I can say with certainty is that scientists are passionate people and they deeply care about what they do. And just like anybody else, they are more than happy to talk about their passion.
So where can you meet a scientist? There are constantly science outreach schemes being implemented, either via student mentoring mentoring, or science information events.
In London for example, the science museum has late night events on the last Wednesday of every month. The National science and engineering week encourages the organisation of science outreach events.
And if you don’t know of any events happening in your city, go to a university and try to suggest one to them! They’ll usually be glad to see someone is interested.
Because in the end, we are (relatively) normal human beings, and we know how to talk about our research, and you deserve to understand it.
We want to do this because we care about science, because we care about information, and because it is thanks to people who pay taxes and give donations that we can do our jobs, so mostly: because we are very grateful.
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