Why I work to get more everyday people and scientists engaged with each other: Inspiration from Seth Godin for #sciengage
My sister brought Seth Godin’s blog to my attention a few months ago. He writes about, among other things, “changing everything.” Though at first glance it is not related to my work as it is really about business and marketing primarily, I have really enjoyed reading his short daily posts and have even saved a couple. But his recent post about the law of averages really resonated with me about why I do my work.
I had heard his point about working to raise gas mileage overall by improving the worst-mileage vehicles in the context of buying a new car: i.e. you make more of a difference replacing a low-mileage car with a higher one than stressing about two or three or even five or ten MPG difference going from something already pretty good (say 30 MPG) to something better – if you go from 10 to 15 MPG, even, you have improved your MPG by 50%, vs going from 30 to 40, a change of (only) 33%.
So this makes me think about why it’s important to get more scientists involved in engagement. Sure, I do help the scientists who are already practicing engagement (and especially the ones doing a lot and doing it well) do more or better. But I can make a bigger difference, I think, if I can get more scientists to start and help out even a little. Similarly, I don’t necessarily work to improve existing ideas or models of public engagement, or reaching the same audiences in new ways, but I try to push to get more people involved, again, working on the bottom end of the law of averages, as Seth explains. I said it again to someone today, that plenty of people are working on making science education in schools better. That’s great, and necessary. I get more jazzed, however, helping adults recognize the science in their lives and their connection to it, in spite of or because of the difficulty in it. I am grateful every day for the chance to do that at UF and in UF/IFAS Extension (who has a new web page – go check it out).