[As you read by the title, this is Part One in another of my lucky-to-be-nominated-award-winning series of two-part Mega Posts. Sorry, guys. Hopefully, this duology will be less like a continuation of one story and more like two meditations on a single topic. In this post, I’ll talk about the importance of good science communication, and in the next one, I’ll provide some of my favorite examples. Hopefully it’ll be fun for the whole family.]
One of the greatest things about science, in my opinion, is its almost neurotic obsession with exactness. (Please excuse me for anthropomorphizing the entirety of our practice, but since science is impartial and, you know, not alive, it probably won’t mind.)
Science—or scientists, rather— aren’t satisfied with vague approximations or educated guesses: they want the truth (and yes, Tom Cruise, they can handle the truth). They want to unwind everything, to shine flashlights around corners, to behave like mechanics and dismantle and rebuild the engines of nature until they can better understand how they work.
I know my metaphors are somewhat muddled—my writing has gotten a little flabby since college—but my point still stands: science is a precise discipline. And often, when communicating science to other people, that precision becomes an obstacle.