03 MAR 2014 by ideonexus

 How to Explain Science

As nearly as I can see, the only secret in popularising science (or anything else) is remembering what thinking went on in your head when you first really understood whatever it is you're now explaining: especially (1) what misunderstandings needed to be cleared away, (2) what metaphors and analogies proved helpful, and (3) what reassurance had to be offered. The effort involved is slight, the benefits great. Among the potential pitfalls are oversimplification, the need to be sparing w...
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Remember what was going on in your head when you first understood the thing.

19 NOV 2013 by ideonexus

 The Selfish Gene as a New Perspective on an Old Hypothesis

The selfish gene theory is Darwin's theory, expressed in a way that Darwin did not choose but whose aptness, I should like to think, he would instantly have recognized and delighted in. It is in fact a logical outgrowth of orthodox neo-Darwinism, but expressed as a novel image. Rather than focus on the individual organism, it takes a gene's-eye view of nature. It is a different way of seeing, not a different theory. In the opening pages of The Extended Phenotype, I explained this using the me...
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It is Darwin's theory, but a story told from the gene's point of view.

14 OCT 2013 by ideonexus

 Introverts Thrive Online

Studies have shown that, indeed, introverts are more likely than extroverts to express intimate facts about themselves online that their family and friends would be surprised to read, to say that they can express the “real me” online, and to spend more time in certain kinds of online discussions. They welcome the chance to communicate digitally. The same person who would never raise his hand in a lecture hall of two hundred people might blog to two thousand, or two million, without thinki...
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Possibly because it is a world of ideas?

12 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 Journal Papers Don't Trigger Revolutions

It appears that the extremely important papers that trigger a revolution may not receive a proportionately large number of citations. The normal procedures of referencing are not used for folklore. A real scientific revolution, like any other revolution, is news. The Origin of Species sold out as fast as it could be printed and was denounced from the pulpit almost immediately. Sea-floor spreading has been explained, perhaps not well, in leading newspapers, magazines, books, and most recently ...
Folksonomies: science popularization
Folksonomies: science popularization
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Science that makes the news does.

21 DEC 2011 by ideonexus

 Interest In Science Comes from Greed

I do not believe that the present flowering of science is due in the least to a real appreciation of the beauty and intellectual discipline of the subject. It is due simply to the fact that power, wealth and prestige can only be obtained by the correct application of science.
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Science is necessary for wealth and power, so most people pursue it for those reasons rather than awe and enlightenment.

28 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Carl Sagan Punished for Popularizing Science

Yet instead, Sagan was punished by the scientific community for his public endeavors. The persecution began as early as the 1960s, when Harvard University denied him tenure. Nobel laureate Harold Urey, a chemist who had previously served as one of Sagan's mentors, helped quash his chances with a nasty letter objecting to Sagan's budding media and outreach efforts.
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His outreach efforts were used against Sagan's pursuit of tenure at Harvard.

19 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 The Unimaginative Naming of an Ancestor

Raymond Dart, then, gave the name Australopithecus to the Taung Child, the type specimen of the genus, and we have been stuck with this depressingly unimaginative name for our ancestor ever since. It simply means 'southern ape'. Nothing to do with Australia, which just means 'southern country'. You'd think Dart might have thought of a more imaginative name for such an important genus. He might even have guessed that other members of the genus would later be discovered north of the equator. S...
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The name for Australopithecus is non-descriptive and unfortunate.

18 MAY 2011 by ideonexus

 Scientists Must Practice Communicating Science

Why should it be hard for scientists to get science across? Some scientists, including some very good ones, tell me they'd love to popularize, but feel they lack talent in this area. Knowing and explaining, they say, are not the same thing. What's the secret? There's only one, I think: don't talk to the general audience as you would to your scientific colleagues. There are terms that convey your meaning instantly and accurately to fellow experts. You may parse these phrases every day in your...
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And apply the scientific method to their efforts to determine what works.