My new Huffington Post piece on scientific authority and cultural boundaries

David Kaiser

David Kaiser

Just a quick invitation to check out my HuffPost musings on the Evolving Culture of Science Engagement project and our recent report. As an historian of science, I’m sometimes tempted to point out that there’s little truly new under the sun in science communication. If you go back far enough — say, to Michael Faraday’s hugely popular public lectures in the mid-19th century, which presaged today’s TED Talks and science festivals — you can find antecedents to many of today’s outreach practices. 

But listening to the creative science communicators we gathered at MIT last year, and looking at their work in blogs, books, podcasts, YouTube videos, live storytelling, comedy, the arts, and just about every other medium and setting in contemporary culture, it’s undeniable that the range of styles and sensibilities in science communication has expanded in ways that scientists of the past could hardly have imagined.

As I suggest to my HuffPost readers: Imagine if bongo-playing, nudes-sketching, safe-cracking, Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman had a Twitter account.

There’s a lot about this new era of public science engagement that we don’t yet understand, and my colleagues and I are eager to dig into the new questions with old-fashioned empiricism. Please toss your name into the ring if you have ideas or expertise for the work ahead.

And watch this space for upcoming guest posts by Emily Graslie, Johanna Blakley, Matt Matcuk, and others.