Wednesday, February 7

Should physicists spin, or just electrons?

Interesting post on Nanopublic, discussing what means should scientists resort to to get their message across to the public - are the means used by advertisers and PR companies automatically unacceptable, will using them damage our message, or are we neglected a useful tool to get important information across to sections of the public who are increasingly "scientifically illiterate"?

A number of fields, particularly medicine and ecology, already use celebrities to get their message across to the wider public. But certainly, we need to know where the public is. There's no point continuing to lecture in a fashion that would have worked in the early 20th century and thinking that will get the message across. Or, indeed, thinking if you can get a slot on the TV then that is job done.

The problem in some ways is the same as the advertisers have - the market is fractured. In the old days, it was hard to get a slot on TV, but if you got to explain your work on Horizon, that's several million BBC viewers covered. Now Horizon is dumbed down, and the viewers are watching dozens of channels, or even worse looking at any one of millions of websites.

And if I knew how to find them, I'd be a rich advertising executive with a ferrari, not a scientist with a pushbike.

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