The ‘Sagan’ effect

Nice article on science outreach.

Couple of snippets.

5 percent of the most active public scientists do half of all outreach
This seems about right to me. My assumptions were that this was because non active scientists either didn’t like it or didn’t see the point in it.

There is also a widely perceived “Sagan Effect” or a professional stigma attached to spending too much time translating one’s research to the broader public

This one was a bit of a surprise to me. Interestingly no one admit to placing a Sagan effect on anyone but many think that it happens.

Additionally, a widespread conception among academics is that dissemination of research findings beyond peer-reviewed journals is “dumbed-down” [9] science and thus not undertaken by the most talented of researchers [10].

Einstein one said that if you cannot explain it to your Granny, then you don’t really know it. Dumbing down is not the same as careful explanations.

However, some scientists feel widespread disinterest in science and mistrust of scientists is a more pressing issue than a lack of science knowledge among the public. They believe that the public is simply apathetic or even opposed to learning about science and the scientific process, meaning that outreach efforts will have little impact

This one is very worrying. This could become a self fulfilling prophecy.


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