Tuesday Thought Leadership Teardown

“What We Know Now” vs. “Next New Paper” Science Communications

Here’s a new Nature Medicine paper: “Maternal cannabis use in pregnancy and child neurodevelopmental outcomes.” Of course we’re going to want to read that.

And the findings don’t disappoint our curiosity: The authors find a 50% increase in the rate of autism spectrum disorder in children born to women who use cannabis compared with women who don’t.…

You Are Not a Futurist

I’ll double down on something I wrote last week: Don’t predict, describe.

Especially: Describe trends and tell us where/what they will lead to.

Right now, expert predictions are, at best, thought exercises that verge on entertainment. At worst, they’re horoscopes: almost always wrong, almost always without accountability, almost always hiding one or more key and very debatable assumptions.…

Tuesday Teardown: Direct Authority Quotes

Researchers can make three kinds of quotes that add authority to their outreach content:

  1. Citations of other works, which might or might not be attached to an actual verbatim quote from the source;
  2. Maxims — those over-familiar sounding quotes worn so smooth by so many previous quoters that they’re almost pre-digested; and
  3. Direct authority quotes — quotes from conversations with colleagues or other authorities, used by permission.

Anecdotes Often Beat Stories. Beat the Snot Out of Them.

We’re told that anecdotes (brief retellings of incidents) are impoverished forms of communication, and stories (longer narratives with peaks and valleys and telling details and surprising twists and moments of reflection and insight) are the highest form of communication.


In a recent “The Undercover Economist” — economist and journalist Tim Harford’s reported column for the FT designed to answer questions based on the best available research — Harford asks the question “Should we take a few long holidays, or lots of short ones?”

TTLT: Presenting Science vs. Creating a Campaign

The monarch butterfly is in trouble — in large part because development is chewing up its habitat, including that of its feeding and host plants (milkweed) across North America.

Just to stabilize its population, the monarch needs an “additional 1.8 billion stems of milkweed,” according to Abigail Derby Lewis of Chicago’s Field Museum and Adele Simmons, a philanthropist, writing in a recent Chicago Tribune op-ed.

TTLT: Disasterology is What Public Scholarship Looks Like

Disasterology is the public scholarship site of Samantha Montano, an assistant professor of emergency management & disaster science at the University of Nebraska Omaha.

It’s great. It has much of everything public scholarship should have — the bones of a one-stop shop for translating research into timely, jargon-free insights and solutions that decision makers and other non-specialists can actually apply.…