Joe Gaydos from the SeaDoc Society encouraged the scientists attending to learn to communicate our science in a more effective way. We need to be able to talk to the general public about the science we are doing in way that is interesting and useful to them. Joe asserted that this is necessary to counteract people who are “denialists” – people who allege there is a conspirancy, use fake experts, cherry pick evidence, create impossible standards for their opponents, use logical fallacies and manufacture doubt. Joe cited Randy Olson’s book “Don’t Be Such A Scientist” that describes how many scientists are too negative, too literal, and poor storytellers.
Joe suggested four main principles for scientists to be more effective in getting their good science out to the community:
1. Resolve to speak from science, not opinion. Speak about your data and know what it means and the implications for society.
2. Know the playing field – understand the audience you are communicating with. Don’t send detailed scientific publications to elected officials who have no time to read them.
3. Pursue excellence and be realistic – focus on whether the big message got across, not the minute details.
4. Expect backlash – it is going to happen and is not a sign of failure, but rather can be an indication that your message is getting attention.