Effective communication begins with word choice

Reflections: Global Change Seminar

-by Julie Wiemerslage

Over the past two weeks, first-year IGC fellows in the Global Change Seminar talked about denialism in science. The discussion concluded last week by discussing how scientists can use better science communication techniques to mitigate denialism.

Fellows in our class participated in a few activities to practice more effective science communication. One activity was to think about words that we use every day within our disciplines that might be interpreted differently by the average person or even by scientists in other disciplines. Here is what some of our fellows came up with! Can you think of other words that have different meanings for scientists and the public?

Words that can muddle your message
  Theory   Error   Landscape   Sign   Scale   Organic   Invasive   Radiation   Scheme   Outlier  Anomaly   Manipulation  Aquifer   Green   Values   Normal distribution   Richness   Uniform   Respiration   Ecosystem Services  Riparian   Models   Regulations   Sequestration    Biocontrols   Bias   Infrastructure   Sign   Hypothesis  Confidence

IGC fellows will continue to learn effective communication strategies next week as they participate in the Alan Alda Center’s Science Communication Workshop!

-by Julie Wiemerslage