You laugh, you lose:
Learn to better communicate your research to non-scientists at the
Workshop on Communicating Science & Engineering with Chris Mooney
When: May 24, 2010-9am-1pm. Lunch will be provided.
Where: MIT- Room/Bldg TBA
Why: These days, amid ongoing media controversies over climate change, the teaching of evolution, the safety of vaccines, and many other scientific topics, researchers are increasingly asking themselves questions like these: Should I be doing more to communicate about my work to the public? And if so, how should I go about preparing for media encounters–and what should I be ready to say? This workshop will help.
Due to the heavy interest in this workshop, we will be accepting participants on an application basis. Please email your name, institution, year, program, and a brief paragraph explaining why your interested in this workshop to firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications are due May 14. We will notify all applicants of their status no later than May 17.
A brief bio on Chris Mooney:
Chris is a 2009-2010 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science-dubbed “a landmark in contemporary political reporting” by Salon.com and a “well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing’s assault on science and scientists” by Scientific American-Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write”The Intersection” blog together for Discover blogs.
In the past, Chris has also been visiting associate in the Center for Collaborative History at Princeton University, and is a contributing editor to Science Progress and a senior correspondent for The American Prospect magazine. He has been featured regularly by the national media, having appeared on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” CSPAN’s Book TV, and NPR’s Fresh Air With Terry Gross and Science Friday (here and here), among many other television and radio programs.
Among other accolades, in 2005 Chris was named one of Wired magazine’s ten “sexiest geeks.” In addition, The Republican War on Science was named a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times book prize in the category of “Science and Technology,” and Chris’s 2005 Mother Jones feature story about ExxonMobil, conservative think tanks, and climate change was nominated for a National Magazine Award in the “public interest” category (as part of a cover package on global warming).
Chris’s 2005 article for Seed magazine on the Dover evolution trial was included in the volume Best American Science and Nature Writing 2006. In 2006, Chris also won the “Preserving Core Values in Science” award from the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals.
Chris was born in Mesa, Arizona, and grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana; he graduated from Yale University in 1999, where he wrote a column for the Yale Daily News. Before becoming a freelance writer, Chris worked for two years at The American Prospect as a writing fellow, then staff writer, then online editor (where he helped to create the popular blog Tapped).
Chris has contributed to a wide variety of other publications in recent years, including Wired, Science, Harper’s, Seed, New Scientist, Slate, Salon, Mother Jones, Legal Affairs, Reason, The American Scholar, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, Columbia Journalism Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and The Boston Globe. In addition, Chris’s blog, “The Intersection,” was a recipient of Scientific American’s 2005 Science and Technology web award, which noted that “science is lucky to have such a staunch ally in acclaimed journalist Chris Mooney.”
Chris speaks regularly at academic meetings, bookstores, university campuses, and other events. He has appeared at distinguished universities including the Harvard Medical School, MIT, Yale, Princeton, Rockefeller University, and Duke University Medical Center; at major venues such as the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco and Town Hall Seattle; and at bookstores across the country, ranging from Books & Books in Coral Gables, Florida to Powell’s in Portland, Oregon. In 2006, he was the keynote speaker for the 43rd Annual Dinner of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties and the Edward Lamb Peace Lecturer at Bowling Green State University. In 2007, he was the opening plenary speaker at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Melbourne, Australia.
Chris has been profiled by The Toronto Star and The Seattle Times, and interviewed by many outlets including Grist and Mother Jones.
Kids, lemme save you four hours of your life, and sum up for you Chris Mooneys method for communicating science:
- Be attractive.
- Dont be unattractive.
- Dont talk about science (See #1 and #2). Keep things nice and superficial. Telling people Pluto isnt a planet or vaccines dont cause autism makes them feel all oogy, thus rendering you unattractive in their eyes. Plus, you dont want to appear as if you are an actual working scientist. Scientists are Aspies in Ivory Towers that cant kumoonicates gud, aka nerds/geeks/dweebs, thus require the assistance of someone who can follow #1 and #2, like Chris Mooney.
Look, as someone who has no problem with flaunting their looks for attention, I really dont mind Mooneys ‘great hair’ or his ‘ten sexiest geeks’ affiliation. I have zero problem with people using their gender/boobages/sexuality as a way to get peoples attention on important topics like misogyny in religion, or soften scary topics like cancer or ‘scary’ math.
But when you flaunt your looks, and your position/arguments have no substance, and you have a gaping 5 year hole in your resume, you kinda end up just looking like a bimbo. A bimbo who spent 5 years as a whore on the Science Communication Bunny Ranch, and is now trying to get his shit back together by using pre-whore head shots and leeching off the brains of student scientists and gullible Ivy League administrators.
Or you just look like a traveling salesman. To quote XKCD Explained, with minor alterations:
It appears that the Author, in an attempt to increase
traffic to his blog and web comicscientific literacy, was fooled into attending a conference on Social MediaScience Communication and was disappointed in its offerings. These conferences are organized and run by self-proclaimed “Social Media Experts”“Science Communication Experts”, which generally translates to “I either have an english degree or none at all, have no technical skills, cannot create anything of value – but I still need a job.”
These “experts” generally talk people (like the Author) into listening to them with big promises of
traffic and moneyreal world advice. They then spout-out useless mantras that don’t actually mean anything and couldn’t possible help anyone achieve their selfish goals of attaining internet celebrity and promoting science. Instead, they merely attempt to create more of themselves – useless people making useless websites that steal or link to content created by others that add nothing but useless page views.
On a completely unrelated note, I heard some Harvard kids were roped into providing science content for The Intersection, soon. heh.