Persuasion 101 for Science Communicators

Look out, it’s another hot take!

Many of you probably saw the recent article from Scientific American.  It’s another in a long line of opinion pieces talking about how scientific communicators are probably doing it wrong in one way or another. We will get to my own hot take in a bit, but this article bothered me in particular because it’s thesis statement was, “…are we leading audiences to rely less on data than emotion?” I agree with the author that unscrupulous emotional appeals aren’t the best way to gain the public trust, but the Op-Ed left me with the impression that data driven argumentation is the one good way to do science communication.  That’s a premise I do not support.

I think the real problem is many folks giving advice to scientific communicators have a real misunderstanding about what persuasive communication actually is. If we are seeking to persuade audiences, and as scientific communicators our basic goal should at least be to persuade folks that our work is interesting and worthwhile, we need to understand how persuasion works from a communications perspective.

What I’m not saying in this essay is that using data to drive your scientific communication is wrong.  I think data driven communication efforts can be effective and compelling! I am saying persuasive communication is a flexible tool and we, as a scientific community, are doing ourselves a disservice if we don’t understand all the different ways we can use it.

Like in so many instances, we ignore the wisdom of the Social Sciences at our own peril.

Buckle up buttercup.  Get ready for Persuasion 101 in 500 words**.     

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Persuasive Communication 101

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Sweet Link ParTEA (August 2018)

We hope everyone has had a great August. As always, this month has gone by too fast. It’s already time again for our collection of awesome links and videos that we found enjoyable and/or important this month. Let us know if we missed any super cool posts!

“She drew their attention as a wolf that had a lot of moxie and was very adventurous.” Check out this NatGeo article about Nate Blakeslee’s new book, American Wolf, who’s central character was once “the most famous wolf in the world”.

This in-depth interview with Francis Weller, author of The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief, is a must read when you have the time.

We are clearly fans of Priya Shukla‘s Forbes articles. Check out this one about the ocean’s itty bitties with an important link to carbon cycling.

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Sweet Link ParTEA (July 2018)

We are so excited to be back on the STS blogging train and are grateful to have so much support and enthusiasm from everyone that checked out our posts or various social media pages. To keep the momentum going, we want to bring back an ancient (like 5 years, y’all) type of post we both had on our personal blogs before combining forces. We will be compiling cool videos, articles, pictures, etc. covering multiple disciplines and posting them on the last Thursday of every month. We will post many of these as we find them on our Twitter or Tumblr pages, so check us out there if you don’t want to wait.  Whenever we find something that makes our day, we’ll save it so we can make yours too.

To learn more check out the full article on Octonion Math.

This amazing blogpost on Thesis Whisperer about Not doing the PhD (and being OK with that). Very important read for grad students (and anyone who knows a grad student,  really).

On a similar note, if you’re doing a PhD, this blog post gives solid advice about how to fight against your protectionist tendencies.  The best PhD is a finished PhD.

Continue reading “Sweet Link ParTEA (July 2018)”