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Engaging the Public

"As scientists, we are trained to recognize the limitations that might undermine our own conclusions, and it often feels very uncomfortable to present a simplified message. Furthermore, many non-scientists seem uneasy when the language and concepts get too ‘scientific' and complicated, and seem to prefer ending the conversation to asking for clarification. Movement needs to come from both directions to bridge these gaps. In the long run, we desperately need a more educated and literate public. However, because many factions of our society benefit from the ignorance of our populace, there will be both individual and systematic resistance to these attempts. I remain optimistic, in part because of the expectation the internet has created for available, reliable information." This is a spot-on excerpt from Vivian Siegel's editorial from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of a relatively new journal - Disease Models and Mechanisms - from the Company of Biologists. For those of you who have not seen this journal, definitely check out the link provided here. Also, please read the editorial I have quoted - you can read it here. One way to engage the public is through science cafes - check this url to find one near you and get involved! The taxpayer has the ability to dictate how many dollars can go for research and if we inform them and demystify science and make it accessible, it will be a lot easier to get their support. If you would like to start a science cafe, e-mail me and I'd be happy to tell you how I went about it. It's not hard, but does indeed take a lot of time - time well spent in my opinion.

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