Book review: Am I Making Myself Clear?: A Scientist’s Guide to Talking to the Public by Cornelia Dean
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press; 1 edition (October 30, 2009)
I bet you can name some good science communicators. People like Carl Sagan, Richard Dawkins, Carolyn Porco, Neil deGrasse Tyson and Lawrence Krauss among others
They stand out, don’t they? Probably because the rest of us are bad science communicators. We picture scientists as ponderous, given to continual qualification, lovers of jargon, bad speakers (as well as bad dressers) and not interested in communicating with the non-expert anyway. We don’t even want to communicate effectively with fellow scientists for a different speciality or research area.
Perhaps that’s a bit harsh. There are many scientists, particularly younger ones, who recognise science communication is important. Some of these probably consciously try to pick up relevant communication skills, and/or practise these in internet and other public settings.
Perhaps more importantly, there are many scientists who recognise science communication is important.
Posted in book review, New Zealand, SciBlogs, science, Science and Society
Tagged Carl Sagan, Carolyn Porco, communication, Large Hadron Collider, Lawrence Krauss, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Science in Society, scientific communication
I have always enjoyed Carolyn Porco‘s talks. She is the director of CICLOPS, the Cassini Imaging Science Team. Cassini is currently in orbit around Saturn.
In this talk given at the AAI 2009 Convention she covers some interesting topics (see video below). These include the question of science and atheism, can science determine if a god exists and the contribution of Galileo to the scientific method. I think the latter subject is very important in the International Year of Astronomy. We keep being distracted from it by religious apologists whose only motive is to find excuses for the Church’s treatment of Galileo, in the process often distorting or denying Galileo’s scientific contributions. Porco also discusses problems with the modern-day public attitudes towards science.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, Science, Science and Society
Tagged astronomy, Carl Sagan, Carolyn Porco, Cassini–Huygens, Contact, Saturn, scientific method, solar system, space
Here’s a book to look forward to.
Coming this September is Richard Dawkins‘ latest book The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. I understand that this book will engage more with the arguments of those who seek to deny this evidence – the creationist/intelligent design proponents.
It should be good. Not only is Dawkins an excellent presenter and populariser of science – he is also an extremely good writer. This is why he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1997 and the Royal Society in 2001.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, book review, Dawkins, science
Tagged Atheist Foundation of Australia, Carolyn Porco, Frank Wilczek, Jim Al-Khalili, Matt Ridley, Melbourne, New Zealand, Richard Dawkins, Royal Society, Royal Society of Literature, Royal Society of New Zealand
John Brockman over at the Edge website periodically poses a stimulating question to a whole range of thinkers, some of the worlds finest minds. I’m currently reading the book compiled from responses to the 2006 question: “What is your dangerous idea?” Fascinating.
The 2008 question is; “What have you changed your mind about? Why?”
As the Edge site says:
When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that’s faith.
When facts change your mind, that’s science.
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?”
One hundred and sixty three contributors answered this question with relatively brief statements. They are well worth reading. I have listed extracts from a few of the contributors below. Continue reading
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, belief, diversity, evolution, faith, god, interfaith, religion, science, superstition, tradition
Tagged Alan Alda, Austin Dacey, Brian Goodwin, Carolyn Porco, Dimitar Sasselov, Edge, Helen Fisher, J. Craig Venter, John Brockman, Lawrence Krauss, Michael Shermer, PZ Myers, Roger Highfield, Steven Pinker, Susan Blackmore
Albert Einstein expressed his awe for the beauty of reality and humanity’s exploration of it in this manner:
“If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it”
“One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike – and yet it is the most precious thing we have.”
Many other scientists profess a similar passion. Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins are well known for their enthusiastic popularisation of science – for bringing the awe and understanding to the general public. Carolyn Porco is also a great populariser of science.
Posted in agnostic, agnosticism, atheism, diversity, religion, science
Tagged Carl Sagan, Carolyn Porco, ESA, European Space Agency, internationalism, moon, NASA, planet, Richard Dawkins, Saturn, solar system, Titan