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Opinions on science communicators?

  1. Jul 11, 2015 #1
    Good morning all,

    I wanted to get some opinions on the following situation. Feel free to share.

    I often encounter pages on social media such as Facebook where channel owners/moderators label themselves as "scientists" (without any kind of academic degree) or as people "doing science" without using any kind of numbers or mathematics or anything with any *real* explanatory power whatsoever. Usually posts on these channels involve sharing interesting pictures and writing 10-20-30 paragraphs of a cliffnotes-like explanation with a smörgåsbord of unrelated philosophy thrown in for good measure.

    I used to ask these channel owners/moderators why they considered themselves as such, whereas a label of "science communicator" seems much more highly appropriate. However, I learned that doing so is somehow tantamount to an insult (which I don't understand why), so I don't frequent them as often as I do my textbooks.

    I guess I'm curious as to whether I'm just splitting hairs, or there's actually a problem on these social media channels. As for myself, I was particularly influenced by the following quote in the beginning of my undergraduate career:

    "I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be."
    - Lord Kelvin

    I've come to completely agree with Lord Kelvin's words (and also, Richard Feynmann's), as I've noticed in my own life that scientific explanations without numbers/mathematics are like stringed instruments without strings. But perhaps this comes from my own underpinnings as a theoretician-in-training.

    What do you guys think?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2015 #2


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    Gold Member

    I think that in general the "science" present by such moderators should just be ignored. There are plenty of places to get real science. If you have the option of going to a nice steak house, why would you want to eat rotten, uncooked dog meat?
  4. Jul 11, 2015 #3
    ^ This. In spades.
  5. Jul 12, 2015 #4


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    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It's the same reason why people talk about cars and label themselves as car experts, even though they may actually know very, very little about cars overall. They just don't know any better. Or they don't care. Or both.
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