Hello there bloggies! Welcome to this week’s Science Sunday!
Every time I go home, my parents inevitably bring up some study they have read about in the newspaper or saw in the local news. They mention that some new random chemical causes cancer or that eating this food isn’t healthy anymore. What follows is a conversation discussing why or why not whatever we are talking is ridiculous or is at least somewhat true.
Fortunately, they take most of these headlines with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, usually you need to take science headlines in the news or online with a grain of salt. In the search of catchy headlines and views, articles presenting scientific findings or reporting on health news tend to exaggerate findings and are overly dramatic. One of the more interesting (and definitely dramatic) cases of this is the recent back and forth between Science Babe and Food Babe (#TeamScienceBabe). Although many of the sources of mainstream science information tend to be misleading at best, people take a lot of these pieces at face value.
With this information taken as scientific fact, people change their daily habits and their opinions. I think the most common place you see this is with nutrition, fitness, and health. One-day dark chocolate, red wine, and low carb diets are healthy and the way to go to maintain your health. Then, the next day, you’re told to avoid all of these. Everyone gets confused and ends up following their own somewhat informed diet.
People for the most part trust the opinion of experts in different fields (in this case, the doctors and scientists doing medical and scientific research). It’s an important partnership that allows for innovation in the lab and the revolution of society, health, and daily life.
It’s vital that this partnership remains strong. The public invests resources, time, and education into scientific research. In the United States, the easiest way to see this investment is with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), where taxpayer dollars directly fund scientific and biomedical investigations. Not only that, but millions of people donate millions of dollars to non-profit organizations like the American Cancer Society or the ALS Foundation (in other words through the ice bucket challenge) where the money is awarded to help investigators unlock mysteries of disease.
But this partnership is more than just the public helping to fund research. Other sectors of the economy use scientific advances. For example, politicians need to remain updated on findings in order to effectively implement policy. The accuracy of communication between the scientific community and other sectors ensures that people in business/politics can best do their jobs to fuel innovation. If this relationship is tarnished by a lack of or misleading communication, then faith in science and scientific progress can only go down.
So, do your best in communicating your science to all communities and all sorts of people. We don’t live in a science bubble. The world is more and more connected with access to all sorts of information. Let’s try to make it the highest quality we can!
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Hope you stop by again soon!!