The Future of Science Communication
Every story needs a beginning, but I am not sure where my story begins. I guess we can trace it back to my early days when I was diagnosed with a case of attention deficit disorder, after showing interest in several toys during a psychological assessment. A toy was given to me every five minutes and apparently it would have been normal to finish playing with one toy before moving on to the next. I have always argued that if the doctor handed me a toy to look at, I would look at it, regardless if I already had one to play with. I felt that they rushed their diagnosis and defined me into a category. Medication was prescribed, but my parents were and have always been against it. Over the years however I started to notice that I would start an activity after activity without focusing on a single one. But where is the line drawn between disorder and enthusiasm for intellectual nurturing? At such a critical stage in a child’s development, what may seem as a disorder can nurture creativity that sparks from the initial motivation to pursue an activity. As a music student, my teachers often criticised me for trying to learn several pieces at once. After 12 years of playing instruments, I noticed that I could not sit down on a piano available in public and play something, for what I know are small segments from many compositions, and cannot play one piece very well. And it’s because sometimes we want to do everything, and we feel a collective is more important than a single accomplishment. The important factor is the balance between the best of both worlds. Perhaps it will not make me a concert pianist with an extensive repertoire, but by drifting through the library of musical works, I managed to find the genre that suits my personality the best and therefore use music as a method of expression, reflecting what I have learned from it rather than having a practised ability to play several pieces.
It’s the relationship between science and art or logic and emotion. Let’s take the genetic code for example. It serves as the collection of data passed down through generations that have been exposed to disease, mutations or other factors that can affect an organism’s biology. A given set of variables or codes that can be interpreted and transcribed into information is by far more important than simply having a lot of data. That is to say that amount of data is not proportional to the information that can be extracted from it. If we take a step backwards and think of it as an art, writers and musicians both work with a set of data, however in this case the data is represented as musical notes or letters that can be arranged into words. Musicians often captivate us because they compose their songs harmonising notes together, trying to create melodies and searching for the emotions that overpower us or expose the emotions that are absent to us. Writers do the same with their novels, working with a stockpile of words that in a certain order can relay the message they want to communicate, making every written passage unique. Although DNA is fairly conserved among us and we are all based around four key chemical structures, our data keeps being shuffled, variables that are passed down from our parents are in effect and taking into account that the decisions we make in our lives can affect our internal biology, we as individuals can be equally as unique, particularly because of how data is expressed within us. The balance is reached when we collect all the data that is available to us, combine it and analyse it, paving the way to new ideas and discovering new things.
In science we are taught from early on that our essays must not use any proper nouns. It is because the experiments need to be analysed from beyond the scope of the single or group of investigators and written to maintain a level of professionalism and scientific discipline. It may be an excellent way of proving ground-breaking research and sharing it amongst scientists, but we limit the number of people that are reached from these studies. We let the expression of the research be handled by the media who often do not have background training in the subject area and are after the key impact words that will capture attention rather than spread the deeper message. Currently we report science as it is and not what it really means to society and life. Interpretation of it may result in doubts or lack of understanding that can be followed by the perpetuation of a wrong idea based around the lack of knowledge or the intention to mislead and stir fear. We must not only ask the right questions and answer them in a scientific way, but also allow our readers to reason through a variety of scenarios on how the research affects us as a population. By producing these questions and discussions as the research goes along, we can get several people educated as research progresses, instead of news media reporting on something that people may not be so familiar with and often sparking outrage or deep concern, without detailing all the information that is available.
We must change the way that science is communicated, developed and applied by changing the way we report on-going research. It is imperative that we also keep to a high intellectual level so that professionals can trust and rely on our work, but also make it simple for students to understand and integrated into their studies, giving readers an easy-to-access, online library of scientific literature that is otherwise only available to scientists and academics. We encourage people from all backgrounds to engage with us, so that we aid in the communication of research and make it easier for those that have an interest in science, but do not have relevant training or experience, understand and develop their own goals and satisfy their curiosity or passions. The aim is to not only communicate on-going studies but to encourage people to think, analyse and engage in current events without being told how to think or shown articles that are one-sided or reviewed by non-professionals. We want to work with the many different methods of communication so that even though those who do not know much about a certain article can find the information, background and other relevant news directly on our website without needing to search for it elsewhere.
Although I cannot tell you where my story begins, I can show you where it’s going.
Dr. Emmanuel G Escobar
Founder & President