Laura Helmuth Profile picture
Feb 20 26 tweets 12 min read
Looking forward to the @AAASmeetings plenary on problems in science communication, with @hholdenthorp @JaneLubchenco @AstroKatie @DrJoSimps & Kathleen Hall Jamieson…
There's been a shift in science in past 25 years toward more engagement & communication & solutions -- @JaneLubchenco
But when she & other scientists talked to Newt Gingrich about climate change, he wanted to know which policies he could champion that were different from That Al Gore Thing.
The actions people will take are affected by values, beliefs, politics, social dynamics. Science has to be understood & salient & useful. We have to be aware of other factors & listen to social scientists about how to communicate effectively. -- @JaneLubchenco
And here's a great essay from @JaneLubchenco from right before she joined the Biden administration…
It's easier to write off the results of science if people haven't encountered scientists in the wild and don't know what they're really motivated by, how they work, who they are. It's valuable to see. -- @AstroKatie
We need to change academia to make communication at least not harmful to your career -- @AstroKatie at #AAASmtg
For a fun example of Katie Mack doing some meta science communication…
Distilling information during a crisis moment at a hospital has to be understandable and relatable. To do good medicine, we need specific science around communication to reach each patient where they are. -- @DrJoSimps at #AAASmtg
Science communication did a pretty good job! If you look at the huge uptake of vaccines, public learning more all the time, there have been real successes and higher accuracy than you'd expect, despite misinformation and attacks. -- Kathleen Hall Jamieson at #AAASmtg
Once misinformation has lodged, it's hard to get it out. Here's a nice Here's How To Do It story by Kathleen Hall Jamieson about how to protect people from misinformation and debunk effectively.…
How messages about smoking became effective: Narrative is powerful, but it can be atypical. How can you harness that power to make it clear that you're describing what's typical? For smoking message, we needed both. -- Kathleen Hall Jamieson at #aaasmtg
Statistics are important, but we have to make connections in a clinical world and share the narrative of what's relevant for them. -- @DrJoSimps
Use visualization, analogy, to give people a feel for the physics of astronomical events. Metaphor is the most important tool I use. But you have to be very careful to not allow people to believe it's 100% precise. -- @AstroKatie at #AAASMtg
Holden to Jane: "one degree of warming" might not sound like that much?
Jane: Make the narrative relevant to people's lives. Use visualization, analogies, metaphors.
We're working to deliver the next climate assessment. It provides global info, but tailored to regions & sectors
More than 450 scientists are working on the climate assessment, with diverse expertise & experience. They will make it reflective of what we've learned about science communication: two-way, engaging, not just facts but stories & relevance. - @JaneLubchenco at #aaasmtg
Q from the audience: The public seems to be more receptive to information from comedians. Should their skills be used to make science more accessible?
(good question)
All the speakers, basically: Yep, yep, yep. Especially on social media, humor helps get your message out. When message is funny, people will share it more often. Not everything should be joked about, but opportunities for playfulness in discussions about science - @AstroKatie
But don't make light of something that is really serious for someone. -- @JaneLubchenco at #aaasmtg
Remind people about successes. The Montreal Protocol ozone hole agreement. We made things better. Same thing with vaccinations. No smallpox. -- KHJ
Public confidence in science and scientists remains high. It's important to be visible as scientists, to connect the dots for people between scientists, science and things we are benefiting from -- @JaneLubchenco
Good Q from moderator @hholdenthorp: Who is a good science communicator we could emulate?
@JaneLubchenco says @KHayhoe
@AstroKatie says there are so many! @xkcd
@DrJoSimps says @LeeBeers
Kathleen Hall Jamieson says @DrShepherd2013
Research we should know about:
@JaneLubchenco says Susan Fiske on gaining trust through warmth and competence…
From @AstroKatie: Scientists are often perceived as amoral. Presenting ourselves as caring not just about science but people and life and society are crucial for building trust. We need better tools to deal with misinformation. We're up against people who skillfully share lies
Who the messenger is and how it is delivered matters, improves access for how to engage and critique and apply that information. -- @DrJoSimps at #aaasmtg
Great talks, fun chat, thanks to @AAASmeetings for a fantastic conference & to everyone who cares about science & engagement & communication & evidence and is trying to get it right #AAASmtg

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More from @laurahelmuth

Feb 21
Headlines are the most important three to 12 words in any story. Here's where they come from, in case anybody's interested, and some observations about recent trends and misunderstandings (thread)
The writer or videographer or graphic artist (the person whose name, or byline, is at the top of the piece) usually doesn't write the headline. The editor (whose name is probably not on the piece) usually writes the headline.
The same story can have different headlines depending on where you're seeing it. Print headlines have to fit a physical layout with images and other display copy (words that aren't part of the story, like subheadlines or captions)
Read 14 tweets
Feb 20
This year's @AAASmeetings has had some great sessions on misinformation, and I'm looking forward to this one starting at 11 ET…
Research by @lkfazio shows that repeating false claims makes people more likely to believe them, even if the false claims contradict knowledge people had before they saw the misinformation
Is there a link between "epistemic motivation" and misinfo? Yep, according to research by @dannagal. Trump supporters are more likely to say they value intuition and emotion as a way to get to truth, and to endorse false info. They're not as swayed by data & evidence.
Read 7 tweets
Feb 19
Great talk at @AAASmeetings by @katestarbird about participatory disinformation and how quickly Trump-fan grievances on social media amplify conspiracy theories…
"some of us are trying to understand how to put a wrench in this system and stop the madness"
Platform policies around health and election misinformation have made a difference -- suspensions on Twitter took out accounts spreading misinformation and linked to astroturfing and QAnon (didn't get it all, though)
Read 7 tweets
Nov 18, 2021
Substack seems to be attracting a certain set of writers who are arrogant, self-righteous, offended by social justice efforts, and/or just looking for a fight. This thread is about one small part of this pattern: editing, and what contempt for editing says about someone (1/x)
Substack is a platform that lets writers publish what they want, unedited. I get the attraction. It can be painful to hear from an editor that, say, your introduction takes too long to get to the point or your metaphor doesn’t track or your logic has holes in it (2/x)
A good editor identifies the parts that are confusing or unsupported or insensitive and helps fix them. Sure, there are bad editors, but in most cases writers and editors can reach an agreement about structure and language that works well for the editor’s publication (3/x)
Read 8 tweets
Oct 24, 2021
One of the many invisible good deeds people deserve more credit for is not kicking down, especially on Twitter, even when it’s tempting. I recently got kicked at by someone with 11x more followers than me, let’s call him Yatt Mglasias. <thread>
I tweeted out a lovely story by some desert ecologists about how movies often present deserts as wastelands, but they’re actually really interesting and rich. The story was pegged to Dune, and my tweet (I realized belatedly) could be read to mean that I didn't understand Dune.
I got dunked on by a few people who hadn’t read the article. Then Yatt tweeted a snide tweet to his half-million followers. Predictably, legions of Yatt fans are now sending me elaborate, misogynistic messages about how stupid I am.
Read 5 tweets
Mar 30, 2021
One of the biggest barriers to progress is the fact that most of the people who have succeeded in a given field and have the power to change things think the system works ~just~ ~fine~ the way it is. 1/x
You help run a medical school and you had to spend years of your training sleep deprived? Well, so should new trainees. 2/x
Your have won an award and now your organization wants to change the contributions it recognizes with its awards? Nonsense. The awards recognize the exact right types of accomplishments! 3/x
Read 9 tweets

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