Smil & The Specificity of Happy Endings

People love science in large part for what they think of as its rigor, its clean, balls-and-strikes exactitude as compared with the rest of the world’s abject chaos. This love of scientific precision, of course, ignores all the parts of science that are routinely less than exact — for instance, when science tries to tell us how its findings should be translated into solutions.…

5 Questions Public Experts Ask of Their New Research

There’s a huge but almost completely unrecognized difference between a) “communicating research” and b) communicating insights and recommending actions based on your new research with the goals of improving the world, positioning your organization and enhancing your authority. In other words, strategic communications.

Against the Schmidt Awards

Who could be against giving awards for excellence (accompanied by five-figure sums) in science communication and journalism — especially to young and previously unrecognized scientists and journalists?

I’ll take a shot.

ICYMI: The National Academies Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications will give out $600,000 later this year to 24 science journalists and research scientists “who have developed creative, original work that addresses issues and advances in science, engineering, and/or medicine for the general public.”…

Beware the Hungry Frame

Public experts often take apart and examine other people’s frames, from a scientific or other research-based perspective. But as with paintings, the easiest way to ruin a good argument is to stick it inside a bad frame yourself.

Glaring example: This opinion piece in the Guardian last week by Eric Topol, the director of Scripps Research Translational Institute, whom I’ve lauded before for his COVID-centered Substack and tireless Twitter coverage of the latest COVID research and public health policy.…

Tressie on Crypto

The discourse on crypto isn’t known for civility, or subtlety, or ambiguity, or privileging questions over answers, or appeals to experts, or being grounded in cultural history.

So when you come inside from the latest Twitterstorm on blockchain, it’ll probably take you a couple of minutes to figure out what sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom is trying to accomplish by including all the above elements in her three recent essays for The New York Times on the culture of crypto — part of her weekly column for the Times.…

How Does This Help Your Audience?

“Help me get to X (a big number) of followers!”

We still see this cringey plea from researchers all the time in social. You can offer dozens of good reasons (or maybe even hundreds of thousands, if we’re measuring in grant dollars or sales) for wanting to grow your social following or email list.…

Cowardice, Expertise & Public Expertise

Research-based experts complain about journalists a lot — about how journalists misquote them, get the story wrong, write bad headlines, use all the information the experts gave them without attribution, and frame narratives about research in undesirable ways.

Public research-based experts agree with all that criticism.…