Using Data to Pump Your Powers of Persuasion

Monday, February 15, 2016: 9:00 AM-10:30 AM
Hoover (Marriott Wardman Park)
Bethanny Brookshire,Science News, Washington, DC
Many scientists want to write persuasively about the scientific issues that drive their work. They want to argue for funding, dispel harmful myths, or simply let the public know that what they do is critically important. But many scientists aren’t quite sure where to start. After all, shouldn’t the data speak for itself?

But when it comes to changing opinion, facts rarely stand alone in the public mind. This presentation will discuss some of the research available on how to write a persuasive article. It will discuss why knowing your audience ahead of time is the most important edge you can have. It will cover peripheral and direct forms of argument, and how to tell when to use each form to make your point. It will also discuss the popular method of “debunking” science myths, and why research shows it’s not always the best way to get your point across.

Many scientists think that science communication is just a talent that some have and others do not. But in fact there is a science to science communication. This presentation will discuss some of the research behind successful outreach efforts. It will also discuss pitfalls to avoid. Researchers will come away with the tools to more effectively persuade the public of the importance of their work.