Thursday, 16 April 2015

Book Marks: Book Blogs, Passive Science, Etc.

Scott Pack "wrote a thing about book blogs and whether or not they actually sell any books." Not by themselves, apparently.

"I do think that a combination of factors can make a difference, and often a big difference," Pack writes. "If a book gets a couple of cracking reviews in the newspapers and book bloggers are chatting positively about it online and booksellers (don't forget the crucial role they play) are getting behind it then that can be sufficient critical mass to ensure a decent audience."

Is it time for scientists to stop writing in the passive voice? Short answer: Yup.
But why?

Among other things, the passive voice may make it more difficult to celebrate particular scientific accomplishments. When scientists fight for the passive voice, they’re not fighting for their right to write poorly. They think science should speak for itself. But in a time when climate change deniers blind themselves to hard data and vaccine conspiracy theorists blithely cover their ears to public health risks, it has never been more clear that science doesn’t speak for itself.

I've always found academic writing terribly textbook-y: staid, sleep-inducing and doesn't do the science and facts any favours. Some fields of science can be exciting, and increasingly relevant to our daily lives to the point where even non-scientists start to take note.

But when you let the "science speak for itself", it tends to put up barriers and warns laypeople off. In other words, the science becomes inaccessible. To get people, including scientists themselves, interested again, maybe it's time to reframe all those years of hard work in an accessible manner. Perhaps this will remind scientists why they got into this field in the first place.



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