Combing for Truth, Justice, and the Canadian Way

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by Raymond Nakamura & Lisa Willemse

Communication, Education and Outreach subject editors

Most of what you hear and read about science tends to focus on the process of scientific discovery itself. These are the topics that grab headlines, such as last week’s announcement that the Edmontosaurus dinosaur had a fleshy comb atop its head, not unlike that of a rooster. Edmontosaurus — how’s that for Canadian content?

Raymond&Lisapic

Original cartoon by Raymond Nakamura

Though it’s often under-appreciated, communication is at the heart of science as a human endeavour. If a researcher studies trees falling in the forest and no one hears about it, it might as well not have happened. The internet is transforming how we communicate, for better and otherwise. Science Borealis aims to broaden opportunities for science communication from Canadian perspectives.

Aadita Chaudhury recently spent some time in New York, and summarized her science outreach experiences in three diverse posts on her blog The Thylacine Reports. On the Canadian Science Writer’s Association blog, Stephen Strauss (CSWA President) reflects on the challenge of creating a science communications course. He also has a guest post on Matt Shipman’s (American) blog, Communication Breakdown, about Canada’s science communication problem.

We like to think that science is a meritocracy of ideas that builds a better understanding of reality. But science communications can expose the limitations of our fleshy computer noggins, and the need for vigilance in keeping our relationships with others respectful, even when we might never meet them face to face.

In recent months, heated discussions have taken place over gender-based discrimination and bias in science. Some of it has centred on the disparity of representation between male and female scientists in research publications and academic appointments. Theresa Liao, on her blog, Science, I Choose You, recently posted the final article in a four part series suggesting ways we can close the gap.  In early autumn, stories of sexual harassment in the science writing community triggered a torrent of activity on Twitter and in the blogosphere by science communicators and the media. For background, take a look at (American) Karen James’ summary of her #ripplesofdoubt hashtag; for some Canadian perspectives on the issue, read Kim Moynahan’s Letter to a Young Man and Sarah Boon’s Don’t Push that Button.

In the meantime, take good care of each other, hope you enjoyed the Winter Solstice, and share your Canadian science blog with us, if you haven’t already. Peace Out.

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