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(WFAA Fort Worth)   Alan Alda wants scientists to stop using all those high-falutin' sciency words, because they just sound like jibberish to non-sciency folks   (wfaa.com) divider line 115
    More: Unlikely, Alan Alda, Stony Brook, benefit society, visiting professor, teaching assistant, scientific research  
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2794 clicks; posted to Geek » on 01 May 2013 at 12:40 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-05-01 10:55:44 AM  
Actually scientists usually don't need to use the high falootin' words. The good ones CAN use layman's terms successfully.

The problem is science reporting.
 
2013-05-01 10:59:31 AM  
Maybe if they were all read to us in his soothing voice, it would take the edge off.
 
2013-05-01 11:00:32 AM  
Wouldn't it be better still to just educate the non-sciencey folk?
 
2013-05-01 11:06:34 AM  
Use too many big words and you're an elitist.
Dumb it down too much and you're condescending.
It's a fine line we walk.
 
2013-05-01 11:14:02 AM  
We should listen to him. He's not a doctor, but he played one on TV.
 
2013-05-01 11:16:33 AM  

bdub77: We should listen to him. He's not a doctor, but he played one on TV.


He's also the host of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS. It's a really good science show for laypeople, sort of like Nova Science Now (only it predates it by about a decade).
 
2013-05-01 11:22:31 AM  

Mentat: Use too many big words and you're an elitist.
Dumb it down too much and you're condescending.
It's a fine line we walk.


That's true, but PBS shows that it can be done.  Cosmos, Nova, Scientific American Frontiers.  All good science shows that mostly avoid science jargon (or at least explain it first) without being condescending to the viewers.
 
2013-05-01 11:26:28 AM  

doglover: The good ones CAN use layman's terms successfully.


Hurray for these guys:

www.myclassiclyrics.com
upload.wikimedia.org
www.greatthoughtstreasury.com
www.nndb.com
www.popsci.com
d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net 3.bp.blogspot.com
www.americanhumanist.org

And the guy who popularized the whole thing:

upload.wikimedia.org
 
2013-05-01 11:33:55 AM  

Mentat: Dumb it down too much and you're condescending.


RexTalionis: doglover: The good ones CAN use layman's terms successfully.

Hurray for these guys:

[www.myclassiclyrics.com image 315x304]
[upload.wikimedia.org image 250x268]
[www.greatthoughtstreasury.com image 297x450]
[www.nndb.com image 240x300]
[www.popsci.com image 283x300]
[d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net image 460x276] [3.bp.blogspot.com image 540x540]
[www.americanhumanist.org image 300x301]

And the guy who popularized the whole thing:

[upload.wikimedia.org image 220x334]


What is that man doing in a list of good scientists?

Did you not ever see Les Miserables? When you kick a single mother out into the street you're a bad person, and she only had ONE kid. Pluto has FIVE moons.
 
2013-05-01 11:49:21 AM  
Look, if it ain't about Lost Secrets of the Bible, Ancient Aliens, or The Mystery Of Atlantis, it ain't science.
 
2013-05-01 12:07:30 PM  
Did he force scientists to succumb to his will with two vicious doberman's?

- To Kill A Clown the one Alan Alda reference that no one gets.  If you have to see one 'Nam vet goes berserk movie, make it this one.
 
2013-05-01 12:31:05 PM  
In other news, Alan Alda is alive.
 
2013-05-01 12:33:09 PM  
Look,  doglover, just because it is not a major planet does not mean it's not a planet. It is just a dwarf one. Any good educator will not forget to mention it, but will note it's reclassification as a small cold ass rock instead of a larger one with a constant orbit.
 
2013-05-01 12:46:52 PM  
In fairness, that psychiatrist guy usually explained it for him..
 
2013-05-01 12:48:08 PM  
Not as long as have to listen to "Going forward, please wireframe the misssion critical actionables in your discussion deck". Nothing is more worthy of scorn than that tripe.
 
2013-05-01 12:57:43 PM  
i43.tinypic.com

If there's a term I don't understand, there is a thing called the internets (has something to do with tubes) that I can use for further research.
Don't dumb it down on account of me. I'll figure it out.
 
2013-05-01 12:59:53 PM  

Mentat: Use too many big words and you're an elitist.
Dumb it down too much and you're condescending.
It's a fine line we walk.


What do you mean? Could you explain that a little easier?
 
2013-05-01 01:01:13 PM  

barefoot in the head: Not as long as have to listen to "Going forward, please wireframe the misssion critical actionables in your discussion deck". Nothing is more worthy of scorn than that tripe.


Put that in your next four-blocker for tomorrow's staff call.  It'll be a complete game-changer!
 
2013-05-01 01:03:04 PM  
 
2013-05-01 01:03:19 PM  
This is what I do for a living. Not everyone is well-versed in scientific jargon or technical terms, so I try to interpret the concepts involved in terms that a layman (including children) will understand. Someone said above "why not just educate the public?". Well, getting concepts across in terms the public will understand can be a first step towards that happening. Carl Sagan was a master of this, and so is Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Sagan was a hero of mine growing up, and it's one reason I got into this field.
 
2013-05-01 01:06:26 PM  

Abe Vigoda's Ghost: If there's a term I don't understand, there is a thing called the internets (has something to do with tubes) that I can use for further research.
Don't dumb it down on account of me. I'll figure it out.


Well not everyone is as awesome as you are.
 
2013-05-01 01:07:36 PM  
 making complicated science understandable

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qQQXTMih1A">https://www.youtube.com /watch?v=1qQQXTMih1A

Surely you must be joking Dr.

RIP
 
2013-05-01 01:10:39 PM  
He was on NPR two years ago talking about this
 
2013-05-01 01:10:47 PM  
Science is a discipline where the devil is in the details. A particular concept needs its own science word because there are all sorts of details attached to that concept that are necessary to understanding that concept fully. If you reduced the scientific term into layman's terms, you're losing information somewhat akin to reducing an image file's resolution.
 
2013-05-01 01:11:00 PM  
Dr. Gumby was ahead of his time.

www.cardinalfang.net
 
2013-05-01 01:11:06 PM  

Mugato: Abe Vigoda's Ghost: If there's a term I don't understand, there is a thing called the internets (has something to do with tubes) that I can use for further research.
Don't dumb it down on account of me. I'll figure it out.

Well not everyone is as awesome as you are.


It's the cross I have to bear.
 
2013-05-01 01:14:00 PM  
If scientists had their way we would all be speaking Latin.
 
2013-05-01 01:16:00 PM  

PapaChester: Look,  doglover, just because it is not a major planet does not mean it's not a planet. It is just a dwarf one. Any good educator will not forget to mention it, but will note it's reclassification as a small cold ass rock instead of a larger one with a constant orbit.


Here's my question: do those same "good educators" also mention Eris or Makemake or Ceres or the other dwarf planets?
 
2013-05-01 01:16:52 PM  

Abe Vigoda's Ghost: Mentat: Use too many big words and you're an elitist.
Dumb it down too much and you're condescending.
It's a fine line we walk.

What do you mean? Could you explain that a little easier?


I don't understand why he felt the need to use a big word llike "condescending."
 
2013-05-01 01:17:54 PM  

Ghastly: Wouldn't it be better still to just educate the non-sciencey folk?


Like by presenting scientific ideas, concepts, discoveries, theories, etc., in layman's terms for people to understand?
 
2013-05-01 01:22:02 PM  

tortilla burger: Science is a discipline where the devil is in the details. A particular concept needs its own science word because there are all sorts of details attached to that concept that are necessary to understanding that concept fully. If you reduced the scientific term into layman's terms, you're losing information somewhat akin to reducing an image file's resolution.


When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.
 
2013-05-01 01:24:34 PM  
Gibberish, subby, spelled correctly right there in the fifth sentence in the article.
 
2013-05-01 01:27:00 PM  

meanmutton: When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.


Science is a job, not something someone does on TV for kids.
 
2013-05-01 01:27:34 PM  
He ain't too bright. Guy can't even tell apart a chicken and a baby.
 
2013-05-01 01:30:26 PM  

mccallcl: meanmutton: When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.

Science is a job, not something someone does on TV for kids.


Based on the article, he's talking about when a scientist is speaking to the public, like on TV for kids for instance.

FTFA: There's no reason for the jargon when you're trying to communicate the essence of the science to the public
 
2013-05-01 01:31:28 PM  
JAMES BURKE DOES NOT GET ENOUGH RESPECT!!

encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com

Connections2 was an awesome show.  But nooooooo, nobody ever mentions him, do they?  Just cart around that tart in the wheelchair all the time.
 
2013-05-01 01:32:05 PM  
Look, with any computer, you're gonna have to learn a few new tricks.
 
2013-05-01 01:33:50 PM  

RexTalionis: doglover: The good ones CAN use layman's terms successfully.

Hurray for these guys:


heh...I thought this:

d1jqu7g1y74ds1.cloudfront.net

was you pranking us with this:

i2.cdnds.net
 
2013-05-01 01:41:46 PM  
cdn.videogum.com

IT'S NOT A GALLUS GALLUS DOMESTICUS, IT'S A CHICKEN!!!
 
2013-05-01 01:45:22 PM  

nocturn: JAMES BURKE DOES NOT GET ENOUGH RESPECT!!


James Burke thread? James Burke thread.

/misses the days when you could learn things on TLC and see news on CNN
 
2013-05-01 01:54:11 PM  

Ivo Shandor: nocturn: JAMES BURKE DOES NOT GET ENOUGH RESPECT!!

James Burke thread? James Burke thread.


Mah people, represent!
 
2013-05-01 01:56:47 PM  

RexTalionis: He's also the host of Scientific American Frontiers on PBS. It's a really good science show for laypeople, sort of like Nova Science Now (only it predates it by about a decade).


I'm pretty sure those are hosted on youtube by PBS. I love watching stuff like that.
 
2013-05-01 02:01:27 PM  

FirstNationalBastard: [cdn.videogum.com image 450x300]

IT'S NOT A GALLUS GALLUS DOMESTICUS, IT'S A CHICKEN!!!


Came for this leaving satisfied
 
2013-05-01 02:06:28 PM  

meanmutton: When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.


In some ways, having no information is better than misinformation. Words and explanations need to be carefully thought out so that they don't give people a false idea of what a concept means. This is the big struggle with science journalism - it's really easy to spread misinformation through a thoughtless explanation. Not saying that it shouldn't be done - but rather, "translating" science into regular speak is a much more difficult job than anybody gives credit for
 
2013-05-01 02:08:15 PM  
Alan Alda is still alive?
 
2013-05-01 02:17:07 PM  

tortilla burger: meanmutton: When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.

In some ways, having no information is better than misinformation. Words and explanations need to be carefully thought out so that they don't give people a false idea of what a concept means. This is the big struggle with science journalism - it's really easy to spread misinformation through a thoughtless explanation. Not saying that it shouldn't be done - but rather, "translating" science into regular speak is a much more difficult job than anybody gives credit for


I really like Terry Pratchett's idea of "Lies to Children" - explanations start off simple to understand (and wrong in many details) and are progressively refined and improved as you gain the necessary knowledge to understand those explanations.  The key is making sure that the people you are talking to know that that's what you are doing - otherwise, smart brats pick holes in the "lies to children" versions and think they've picked holes in the real thing.  Happened a lot to me when I was in high school - being a relatively smart brat, I'd pick holes in the simplified explanations and think I'd seen something nobody else had, which of course, wasn't the case - what I was being taught was an approximation to guide future understanding, not the real scientific understanding of something.

Simplifying is ok, just make sure people know that that's what you are doing.
 
2013-05-01 02:18:12 PM  

meanmutton: tortilla burger: Science is a discipline where the devil is in the details. A particular concept needs its own science word because there are all sorts of details attached to that concept that are necessary to understanding that concept fully. If you reduced the scientific term into layman's terms, you're losing information somewhat akin to reducing an image file's resolution.

When you use language that no one understands, you're losing even more information.


That's what was great about the old crew, laymen wouldn't get the detail even if you gave it in it's most simple form.  That's where good analogies come into play.  And Burke and Sagan were excellent when it came to explaining scientific concepts while utilizing analogies to cover all the fiddling details that would confuse the average joe.

Which is why I hate Michio Kaku
upload.wikimedia.org

He might be smart and a good communicator in general, but you wouldn't know it from his shows.  On air he comes off as a fluff poet.  Stupid current nowaday strictly fantasy speculative science shows are stupid.

*harrumph*
 
2013-05-01 02:22:25 PM  
I don't know any of my colleagues that use the so called "jargon" outside of the scientific community.  If they do use any words like that then it is because no other words are adequate in the English language or the words should be common enough that people should have heard them in middle school .
 
2013-05-01 02:27:04 PM  

Abe Vigoda's Ghost: [i43.tinypic.com image 400x266]

If there's a term I don't understand, there is a thing called the internets (has something to do with tubes) that I can use for further research.
Don't dumb it down on account of me. I'll figure it out.


So when your doctor is trying to explain to you what needs to be done you will be sitting there with a laptop and wikipedia to find out just what the hell he is talking about? That seems like a colossal waste of the doctor's time.

Ghastly: Wouldn't it be better still to just educate the non-sciencey folk?


Medicine, biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, social sciences, economy etc. Should we really need to teach everyone every bit of jargon? You'll be tacking on 10 years of college level education just getting people to understand the chemistry, medicine and physics terms.
 
2013-05-01 02:28:44 PM  
Are we sure it was actually Alan Alda, and not Bill Hader doing his Alda impression?
 
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