caprices: (Default)
I have several half-abandoned blogs scattered across the internet, and it looks like it's time to add another one! I have just gotten back from Australia and a really depressing but still very cool conference that, when not talking with great enthusiasm about causes of death in animals, talked with gravity about the serious threats to the ecosystem. Many of these threats are already firmly entrenched, such as invasive species, pollution by degraded plastic, and the oft-cited topic of climate change. The world as we know it is already farther down the path of destruction than most people realize.

This doesn't mean there is nothing to do so full speed ahead. There are many ways that we can change our behavior and the environment we live in. There will be no putting it back in the box we took it out of, but I for one believe it's worth seeing what we can accomplish together. If we can cover an entire island chain in houses in a single generation, we might not be able to turn it back into its pristine state (assuming it had one) but we had better darn well be able to coax it back into some sort of functioning ecosystem.

Personally, I like ecosystems because I think they're way more complicated than we give them credit for, and I think they are beautiful. But they are also life sustaining. And we can all agree that everyone benefits from healthy ecosystems, be it for fish and timber, clean water, or personal aesthetic.

My blog will hopefully be a first step in my own efforts to bridge the gap between what scientists discover about our world and what everybody else knows. There's a lot of challenges, though. As I see them:
1. Base level knowledge.
Most non-scientists don't know how to interpret science, because there's a base level understanding needed for critical thinking. Without understanding, there is no trust, and without trust, there's not a whole heck of a lot of learning.
2. REALLY base level knowledge.
This one varies by person. Does it really matter that everyone know how cellular respiration works? Or maybe for some people it's better just to understand food safety. No one can agree on what we "should" know, but without out some experience with basic life functions, i.e. how a plant grows from seed to plant to food, it's probably going to be hard to find common ground.
3. Incentive
I see this as a job for communication sciences. Finding the message that speaks to people is hard, and it's even harder when there's no pay-off for their hard work in listening. Anyone who has had eight hours of classes each day for a year KNOWS that listening is hard work. But there's lots of ways to get the message across. Humor is good (see xkcd.com). So is good formatting (not present in this particular blog post). My personal favorite is cake, but that one is hard to convey over the internet.)

4. New and improved information
Both ways. Effective ways to communicate...and useful information communicated. To that end, I will be practicing presentation of scientific information, the things I find. I will also give tips for scientists on how to present their information so that it is appreciated by the masses. First tip: Start a blog...

Disclaimer: I am only a veterinary medical student. I will do my best to fact check and write clearly, but I love hearing from others, so if you know the topic or think I made a mistake, let me know! 

And if you've made it all the way down here, congratulations! Help me think of a name for the sort of blog I'm envisioning, because I'm pretty sure "caprices" sends the wrong message. :)

June 2014

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