Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Flowing Scientific Knowledge

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe by only_point_five
"Advances in science when put to practical use mean more jobs, higher wages, shorter hours, more abundant crops, more leisure for recreation, for study, for learning how to live without the deadening drudgery which has been the burden of the common man for ages past. Advances in science will also bring higher standards of living, will lead to the prevention or cure of diseases, will promote conservation of our limited national resources, and will assure means of defense against aggression.But to achieve these objectives - to secure a high level of employment, to maintain a position of world leadership - the flow of new scientific knowledge must be both continuous and substantial. "
How can we assure that "the flow of new scientific knowledge" is both "continuous and substantial"? The discussion is open in the comments section ...

This is Part 2 in our ongoing discussion of Science the Endless Frontier.
Part 1 - Introduction
Part 2 - Flowing Scientific Knowledge
Part 3 - The Importance of Basic Research
Part 4 - The Need for Federal Support for Research


  1. The best way to communicate scientific knowledge to the public is through people who are trained to do so. Scientists cannot be expected to be expert writers for the public. Instead, people who are trained in science and writing should examine primary literature and report the general consensus to the public.

  2. There is a more efficient, more effect way to communication scientific knowledge to the public--scientists have to be involved! Scientific knowledge is most credible when it comes directly from scientists themselves. A Research!America poll shows that more than half of the public thinks scientists are best qualified to explain the impact of scientific developments. By far, scientists lead the field of qualified spokespeople. Medical professionals are the second most qualified spokespeople with under 20%. (Poll can be found here: http://www.researchamerica.org/uploads/poll2007bts.pdf. See slide 18.)

    The public isn't asking for expert writers--they want to hear it from the scientists themselves. Scientists don't need advanced training to speak to the public. Scientists already have the passion--now they just need to take the initiative to share thier knowledge.

  3. Another important aspect is the knowledge reaching the scientists. When research can be directed and the information directing the research is available to those who are willing to think about new possibilities, than research can be advanced more quickly and more efficiently. Gathering and recording information for use in research is such a vital part of developing new medicines and treatment and yet it is not being done as well as it should be! My organization, the Orphan Disease Connection, is working to help gather information on the rare or "orphan" diseases so that researchers have the information they need to develop new medicine! Thanks for the great work on the side of research!

  4. Thanks for the great comment Orphan Disease Connection. Would love to hear more about your data collection on NTDs.