science | July 25, 2013

Why Sharing Science Matters: David Eagleman

Bringing research results from the lab into public discourse can sometimes be costly and time consuming. As science speaker David Eagleman wrote in a recent report, the process can take away crucial time from busy researchers. But, as the recent recipient of the Society for Neuroscience Science Educator Award argues, sharing research breakthroughs is a crucial part of the process. In his new report, the renowned neuroscientist shares some important reasons why the dissemination of science research matters. And, why it's important to give lectures and share findings with the public.

1) To give funders a ROI: "Would you invest billions in an industry that doesn’t share its accomplishments, landmarks, open questions, and goals?" Eagleman asks. "We cannot reasonably ask funders to continuously contribute to a field that is taciturn or un-interpretable."

2) Inspire critical thinking: "For reasons of utility, expense, and expectations, it would be better if knowledge about the scientific method saturated deeply into the squares and capitols of our nations." By providing scientific research to the masses, new findings can be used to better take on other important institutional tasks.

3) Setting the facts straight: "Practicing scientists cringe when the protagonist in a movie spouts a line that reverses the work we’ve invested in the name of evidence and clarity," he writes. "But remember that it’s our own faults. The producers don’t have our years of training. We need to be sharing more with them; we need to inspire them to care about the value of validity."

4) Improve public policy: "Recent decades have witnessed the same story played out repeatedly: recall the powerful suspicions about vaccine-triggered autism, cell-phone triggered brain tumors, and so on. All of these stories should remind us of the usefulness of attaching the conversation to a scaffolding of best evidence." Eagleman stresses the importance of attaching scientifically proven fact to discussions where people's well-being is at stake.

5) Define the difference between what is scientifically verifiable, and, what is not: "It is critical for the public to have an appreciation of the uncertainty inherent in the scientific process," Eagleman explains. There is often a great deal of variability between scientists over the right answer to a problem; it's important for the public to know that there isn't always a one-size-fits-all explanation.

6) Sharing the love of discovery: "Science is not just about the generation of facts; it is about opening our eyes to the vastness of our ignorance and sharing the inspiration for further discovery."

Up Next

digital and social media | July 24, 2013