“Global Wahhming What a Faaahhce!” Someone Help Scientists and Academics Communicate

by mgopin on May 1, 2014 · 4 comments

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

This blog can also be found at Huffington Post


That is what I heard as I was training down the coast of my beloved New England on May 1. Responding to the ridiculously cold, miserable, stormy New England winter of 2014 that refuses to die even in May, a nice train conductor expressed himself in his thick Boston accent, with that distinctive Bostonian bluntness, combined with an endearing common sense. “Global waaaahhhming! What a faaaahce!”


What struck me about the conversation I overheard—and I write in trains and cafes deliberately to learn from people—is that all of his other blunt assessment of politics was very sensible and rather balanced, such as about taxes. I often meet New Englanders who seem like reincarnations of Tom Paine, Robert Frost, but with that thick accent that makes you ‘wondah whetheh they graduated high school, for God’s seyke’.


So why did we lose this man to bizarre myopia when 99% of scientists not being paid off by big oil have affirmed unnatural, dangerous and extremely global warming stemming from human activity? The answer is simple, scientists are terrible communicators. It takes all kinds of people to make the world a better place, and scientists are those quirky people with a genius for patience and dogged processes of discovery that upend previous thinking. But communication and persuasion is not their art. That belongs to lawyers and snake oil salesmen.


There are a few exceptions, Einstein was a great communicator, as was Carl Sagan. And no one will forget the amazing Richard Feynman explaining to the world why the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger could not survive space flight in low temperatures, by dunking the infamous O-rings into his glass of ice water, on television, and then breaking them like pretzels before millions of simple viewers, people with common sense, not owned by any corporation or election cycle.


But even these scientists could not easily translate the complex ideas of physics into their practical implications. They inspired us to be in awe of the universe, but it takes more than inspiration to go up against big oil, corrupt politicians and a wall of human inertia. It takes a fair amount of communicated common sense, and scaring the crap out of people in ways that are firmly rooted in reality.


But, seriously, sales is a time-honored skill that is the foundation of all ancient and modern trade and business. Most of us would be starving if there were not at least a few good salespeople in the family.


Who ever decided to sell a revolutionary scientific discovery, global warming, when they knew that most people would experience not warming, but extreme weather, floods, catastrophes, but not warming? Surely it was not anyone in marketing with half a brain. When you lose the Tom Paines of common sense in liberal New England, then you don’t stand a chance of evolving American culture. Don’t say something stupid and expect him to believe it.


(Just an amusing environmental aside. While writing this, I take my amazing Contigo thermos, which I carry everywhere to save on plastic and paper cups, I go up to the Amtrak café person and ask for some hot water. She says she can’t give it to me without putting it in a paper cup and charging me $2, because—drum role for the rationalization of insanity–the Food and Drug Administration won’t allow her to take my mug over her counter and fill it. Ok, so I am thinking, that there should be a carbon tax on every citizen of the planet, but a double tax on every stupid FDA bureaucrat who thinks he is making us healthier by destroying the planet.)


The bottom line is say something that makes sense to the public. “Your cahhh is killin the planet. So use a train or bus, or your freakin legs, if you don’t want your kids to live in Kevin Costner’s Wataah World.” “Get off your butt and fix up your bicycle and helmet. You can save yourself from diabetes and at the same time lower your flood insurance premiums”. And so on.


This goes for selling other critical areas of science, including social science, but for now, let’s just put everyone on notice: “If you want a planet run by common sense, then start communicating with common sense.”


© Marc Gopin
  • David Lobron

    Scientists definitely need training in how to communicate with the general public. It’s hard, because scientists always admit to some degree of uncertainty, whereas politicians and business people…not so much. It’s ironic too that you heard this from an Amtrak conductor – passenger trains are one of the most carbon-friendly ways to move people.

    I have a very good friend from Iran who, despite being extremely cultured, is obsessed with middle-brow New England, especially Boston accents. If we start arguing about politics, we cool off by imitating Dunkin’ Donuts commercials.

  • Pingback: David()

  • Pingback: Travis()

  • Pingback: charles()

Previous post:

Next post:

adobe premiere free download

buy cheap creative suite adobe reader download portable adobe flash direct download cheap adobe reader download 5 download adobe flash 9 for h264

adobe rider download

buy cheap adobe illustrator CS5 adobe page maker full download download and install adobe flash onto my computer cheapest free download adobe rea adobe in design 2 download

adobe photoshop 8 free download full version

buy cheap adobe after effects adobe pagemaker trial version download adobe photoshop cs3 extended download for free buy cheap adobe photodeluxe download adobe photoshop cs download osx

adobe 8 crack download

adobe acrobat x cheap can i download adobe filter factory adobe golive cs2 download buy cheap adobe nine flash player download free adobe photoshop 6 download

adobe flash player 9 cannot download to internet explorer 7

cs5 master collection cheapest free adobe pdf maker download adobe creative suite 3 download cheap download adobe cs3 free p2p adobe photoshop tutorial download

adobe acrobat pdf download free

buy cheap creative suite 5 adobe after effects cs2 download adobe flash psp download buy cheap adobe illustrator 8 download adobe illustrator cs3 crack download

adobe acrobat 6 free download

buy online creative suite 5 download adobe illustrator cs2 trial adobe live motion download buy online adobe cs3 free download pdf and adobe and download

download adobe photoshop elements 5tutorial

adobe incopy buy online free download adobe acrobat professional 6 free adobe illustrator cs2 download cheapest adobe photoshop trial download free adobe photoshop elements download

adobe photoshop 8 free download adobe photoshop cs3

adobe creative suite 5 cheap adobe download site adobe indesign download cheapest download adobe photoshop 8 cs adobe acrobat download warez

free download able adobe

cheap photoshop lightroom 3 download adobe pdf writer 4 adobe after effects demo download cheapest adobe photoshop 8 free download pdf and adobe and download

adobe flash player download for vista 32 bit os

cheapest cs5 master collection adobe flash offline download iran download adobe photoshop buy online download adobe photoshop download cracker adobe acrobat

download adobe reader 5

buy online adobe premiere pro adobe acrobat writer download adobe premiere free download buy online is download for adobe flash player free adobe file converter download

free adobe illustrator cs3 download full version

adobe web premium cheapest download add on error with adobe acrobat download adobe after effects 5 buy online free adobe photoshop elements download free download of adobe photoshop cs2