Over on the Geek Psychologist blog this week is a thoughtful and thorough piece entitled “Can too much science be a bad thing? Growth in scientific publishing as a barrier to science communication.” In general, the creation of an ever-expanding mountain of new findings is a good thing. The more research is done around the world, the bigger difference we can make in terms of combating disease, finding new ecologically friendly materials, and harnessing new forms of energy. However, as is noted in the post, the communication of science to the public suffers when there are already too many new papers for scientists themselves to keep track of. With a very small percentage of findings being communicated to public currently (estimated at 4.5% for psychology in the post), the increasing number of journals and publications is certainly not helping.
Beyond just a lack of time to share new findings with the public, the post raises the question of whether the boom in scientific publication actually hurts the scientific literacy of the public. While it’s really hard to come to any strong conclusions (correlation and causation are very different), it definitely speaks to the urgency of clearly explaining scientific consensus, not just individual findings.
Thanks to the Geek Psychologist for a thought-provoking post about science communication. Let’s find a way to solve the “big heap” problem for scientists and the public, instead of shrugging our shoulders and giving up on 99% of the hard work researchers do year in and year out.