Reads of the week 5 May 2014

Numbers, social media and PGBS

Here is a collection of our favourite reads of the week 5 May 2014.

Julie Gould

At #SciComm14, one of the sessions was on the importance of data visualisation. One of the key messages was that scientists should start using quantitative phrases, like this is “95% likely”, rather than qualitative ones like “this is extremely likely” because words are subjective, and open to various interpretations. How scientists are inadvertently creating climate deniers, by Lindsay Abrams, highlights how the IPCC reports are reporting confusion by using words rather than numbers, and “[a]gain and again, it would seem that the IPCC’s language about uncertainty backfires, and undermines itself. It sows doubt in the minds of the public.”

Another favourite read, linked to #SciComm14, is about the 6 different social media spaces by Matt Locke from Story Things. It’s an old post (from 2007), but it highlights how communication online can vary depending on where you do it. I know this sounds obvious, but it’s about how users use different kinds of spaces, and the etiquettes associated with them.

One of my favourite reads ever, both funny and instructive, is Michelle Nijhuis’ Pocket Guide to Bulls**t. I recommend everyone prints out the post, cuts out the pocket guide, and sticks it to something they carry everywhere with them whilst reporting!

Fred Humphreys

Scientist at University of Portsmouth
I'm a research scientist based in Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. My passions include biology, gardening and walking.

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