And why should scientists care if the general public cares about science?
Last week I wrote about the importance of science community engagement in public education and the role of science journalism. The implicit assumption of the post is that it is important for the general public to be engaged in science. In case you don’t share this assumption, let me outline a few reasons why you should.
- Scientific developments affect us all, whether it’s the development of new cancer therapies, understanding what causes drug resistance in ‘super bug’ bacteria, or evaluating the safety of genetically modified foods (we all consume them).
- Having a better understanding of how seemingly small contributions in very specialized areas by a large number of scientists (which includes some disagreements), over time and across the world , collectively help fields move forward will help the public understand why science is slow.
- A general public that understands how discoveries in a fruit flies or yeast can help human health and innovation in general will hopefully generate more support for research. Public support for research may translate to an increase in funding.
- Beyond financial support, an informed general public can better judge science news without the sway of politics (think global warming).
As you can see, the benefits are many for both scientists and non-scientists alike!