Olympia Brown disagrees with Steve Cross
Science communicators are a community, she argues.
In the last issue of People & Science , Dr Steve Cross laid out why he doesn’t feel part of a science communication community.
The political divides that Steve mentions are undeniably there, but I feel there is more that brings us together than separates us.
I find Science Communication as useful a label as any. I don’t disagree with Steve that there is a huge diversity in approach, from historians of science to pharmaceutical PR teams to science showoff participants.
Like a giant octopus, there may be no connection between the arms, but I would argue they all meet at a central point.
We all value science, technology, engineering and maths. I suggest something like ‘Science is an interesting and useful part of life, and I want to help more people to use it, appreciate it, engage with it and understand it.’
That’s not to say we agree with everything done in the name of science. But by using the methods of science, from data analysis to logical argument, scientists and science communicators can stand up to multinationals and totalitarian regimes.
Feel the passion
I was also disappointed by Steve’s dismissal of people who cheerlead for science as being ignorant of what they’re doing, lazy, or pulling the wool over their audiences’ eyes.
In science communication, we can navel-gaze for hours, thinking about the wider societal implications, the politics, and the dominant hegemony of the military-industrial complex. But sometimes, I just want people to feel the passion for new ideas and different ways of seeing the world. I think science is wonderful, just as I think it’s challenging, messy, controversial and actually quite hard some of the time.
But, if we are not passionate about science, why are we doing this?