Let's Talk About This

How do scientists communicate, with one another and with the public?

Richard Gallagher(rgallagher@the-scientist.com)
Sep 25, 2005

How do scientists communicate, with one another and with the public? Is discussion becoming polarized, oversimplified or exaggerated? I've had cause to wonder, and my thoughts were jogged on a recent flight during which I read Yale's alumni magazine. Here's what Yale president Richard Levin had to say in a recent baccalaureate address:

"I want to talk about two disturbing trends in contemporary political discourse in democratic nations: oversimplification and polarization. The strength of our democracy and the wisdom of our collective choices will depend on the efforts of your generation to reverse these trends.

"The tendency to oversimplification and polarization leads us to represent too many important public choices as false dichotomies.

"We need to talk sensibly about the policy choices that confront us. There are plenty of good ideas that aren't that complicated. But we need to raise the level of discussion beyond sound bites."1

At least...