Science Always Tells the Truth

So why is science so hard for some people to believe? Science gives answers that are not easy and it revises them often. Does that make people distrust it, simply because it follows a fierce, unforgiving line of inquiry?

Tom Nichols, writing in the Scientific American blog network asks, Do Americans hate science? He builds a case around the idea that people hate experts more than they ever did before. It’s the scientists whom people hate, he says, not the science.

Look at the big picture: The public wants presidents who don’t know what they’re doing, tv stars who are relatable but maybe lack talent, “personal belief” exemptions that allow them to refuse to vaccinate their children, ignoring the responsibility they have to the rest of us. It’s easy to hate the idea of expertise and appoint foreign policy advisors with no foreign policy experience, name education and housing cabinet members with no education or housing policy background.

Complexity is one reason people don’t embrace science, or more properly, why they don’t like scientists very much. Scientists understand complex processes, …

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Best Video I’ve Seen this Year

500 Words | Written by Lee Schneider

I’ve been looking at a lot of fundraising videos this week as I prepare a new lesson for Digital Fundraising School, which is coming this fall. Which video did I think was most effective? Which one raised the most money, got the most followers, made more hearts beat a little faster?

I’ve viewed videos about guys who decided to start a peanut butter manufacturing company after their bus caught fire on the road, listened to a graphic novelist with a charming Italian accent raise all the money she needed for her new book, and foot-tapped along with a couple of twentysomethings who managed to sing their way into funding their next album.

Then I saw a video made by a father and his seven-year-old son. It was the game-changer. They weren’t pitching anything. They didn’t want any money. They just had a plan to send a video camera into space. They did this all by themselves, using a Thai takeout food container as a space capsule.

As the dad, Luke …

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The Complexity of Science in 140 Characters

500 Words | Written by Lee Schneider

Last week’s post on Medium about science and pop culture stirred up something of an online storm. Some scientists on Twitter felt that they ought to be left alone to do science and didn’t need to communicate all that much with the public. Other scientists and science journalists seemed happy, because the more talk about science, the better.

I felt the disconnect keenly. Those doing science often think one way about communication and those who to write about science have a different view. It’s not often an easy relationship between these two camps. You want a couple examples? Ed Yong writes ‘A Guide for Scientists on Giving Comments to Journalists’ with the idea of offering to optimize conversations between scientists and journalists. Chad Orzel fired back on his blog that some of the guide rubbed him the wrong way. Emily Darling writes in The Conversation that It’s Time for Scientists to Tweet. RealScientists has a Twitter stream that does just that. While over on Ben Lillie’s Tumblr, he writes compellingly about why one of the world’s …

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Why Science Needs Help Talking About Itself

500 Words | Written by Lee Schneider

Let’s get past the idea that there are still people who believe that climate change science is a hoax. Let’s get past the notion that evolution might be a mere theory that has to compete with creationism in some schools.

I am taking a deep breath and setting both of those things aside for a moment, because I want to talk to the scientists out there who are doing world-shaking work. Hello?  Does anybody know your names?

Well, sometimes. If you’ve done a TED talk recently or aTEDx, like Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell, or if you’ve written a landmark book like Frank Wilson, and can give provocative talks about human intelligence, yeah, ok, some people know about you. If you are Kate McAlpine and make a rap video about the Large Hadron Collider and it’s really good, seven million people will watch it on YouTube. Yes: Seven million. A rap video about physics. It was good enough to make me laugh and cry at the same time.

If you’re a charismatic superstar astrophysicist …

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