Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hey Scientists - Being Brilliant Isn't Enough!

One of the purposes of this blog is to highlight how scientists and policy makers interact. A friend recently sent me a link to an article called "Why turning out brilliant scientists isn't enough," written by Robert Winston and published in the New Scientist magazine on February 3, 2009. [If you missed it, the title has the link to the original article.]

Professor Winston argues that scientists must "engage with - and, crucially, listen to - the public..." It's not enough to be pure scientists, so he suggests that "a two-way dialogue...seems more likely than a one-way lecture to lead to a maturing of viewes and resolution of conflict." And we all know how much scientists (and academics) like to lecture. Winston suggests that if scientists "show we care about the ethical implications of our work, people are likely to be sympathetic."

This, of course, ties in with science literacy, and understanding and appreciating science at an early age. More importantly perhaps, is the ability to teach critical thinking to our youth so that they can consider whether some of the information they receive as they grow older makes sense or not.

While Winston believes we have come a long way toward improved interaction between scientists and the public, he insists we need to do much more. "We have a duty to conduct research to ensure that the ways we attempt to engage really do have an impact..."

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