A few years ago, Peter Woit of Rutgers University posted an article entitled "Not Even Wrong" wondering about the way many scientists move way beyond science when they try to popularize it.
Is it a good idea, he asks, for physicists to discuss the big bang when there is very little evidence to back up what they say? Is this, he asks, too speculative a topic to be sold as serious science?
He asks, is it a good idea for physicists to promote their speculations on time travel? There seems to be a whole rash of books about time travel by theoretical physicists because people who are not educated in the way theories get devised are fascinated by it.
He notes that physicists have appeared on TV shows explaining the forces involved in crushing beer cans as part of a segment about women crushing beer cans with their breasts.
Science communication to the public is almost always about conclusions, and rarely are methods and the problems of methodology even mentioned. Theory and even pre-theoretical speculation are often presented with the distinctions between what we know and what we imagine blurred. Rarely are questions asked in science popularization, even though answerable questions are the fuel behind scientific inquiry.
Communicating science on digital media can be an important way to bring living science to a wide audience and to generate the kind of enthusiasm that the work of scientists deserves. Through regular blogging and digital reporting, scientists can personalize their work, show how the process of science really works. Communicating real science to the community will bring a real appreciation for how science works.
Brand Spells is an advertising and content creation agency with a special interest in science communication. Contact us to see how we can help you make your science live in our global community.