Archive for the ‘science communication’ Category

Book review: Victorian Popularizers of Science

15 October 2009

Victorian Popularizers of Science: Designing Nature for new audiences by Bernard Lightman

Victorian Popularizers of Science



Scientists can’t write?

15 October 2009

Currently I’m reading sections of Investigating science communication in the information age: implications for public engagement and popular media. In chapter 4.1, Making science newsworthy: exploring the conventions of science journalism, Stuart Allan cites journalist W. T. Stead who wrote in 1906 (see page  152):

In editing a newspaper, never employ an expert to write a popular article on his own subject, better employ someone who knows nothing about it to tap the expert’s brains, and write the article, sending the proof to the expert to correct. If the expert writes he will always forget that he is not writing for experts [b]ut for the public, and will assume that they need not be told things which, although familiar to him as ABC, are nevertheless totally unknown to the general reader.

While Allan, perhaps wisely, does not make direct comment on this—in his words—“telling bit of advice”, my impression is that he agrees with it. I’ve heard very similar lines elsewhere, including at a presentation for science writing in New Zealand.

I think it’s wrong and that it misses the real point.