Sweet Link ParTEA (September 2018)

Last week was a garbage fire, with the news and all.  As a result, I’m (Rachel) going to give myself a pass on this post being many days late.  We hope these links give you a good distraction and help you welcome in October and the changing seasons. 

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This is a fascinating article about methane entering the atmosphere from thawing permafrost.  They dive into an arctic lake!  “Overall, if Walter Anthony’s findings are correct, the total impact from thawing permafrost could be similar to adding a couple of large fossil-fuel-emitting economies – say, two more Germanys – to the planet. “

If you want to up your #SciComm game check out this huge, free resource.

This is a very thoughtful piece about how teaching students the common underlying point of statistical tests might help them learn more, as opposed to parading as many tests as possible out over the course of the term.

Want to check out a fascinating and strangely beautiful #DataViz of how random the success of an individual published work can be?  Click right here.  I found this weirdly mesmerizing.   

The Atlantic takes a stark look at what was lost in the burning of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro at the beginning of the month.  “Many of these presumably lost specimens were holotypes—the first, best, and most important examples of their kind.”  We both thought this fire was significant and each added an article about it.  This one does a really nice job of putting into context the importance of museum specimens to ongoing research efforts.

Continue reading “Sweet Link ParTEA (September 2018)”

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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

Continue reading “Persuasion 101 for Science Communicators”