A Conversation for The Four Main Reasons Why Scientists are Sometimes Incomprehensible


Post 1


I think some of your assumptions are dodgy. I do not agree that most scientists communicate in symbols rather than words. I think that is a stereotype.Scientists must be good verbal communicators, especially when publishing research for review.However there is some truth that verbal communication is perhaps not the forte of scientists. There is a great corpus of good scientific writing however , e.g. writers like Richard Dawkins, - who whatever your opinion of him - does make his ideas clear -Stephen Jay Gould etc.

Good discussion though.


Post 2


I think this is one of the rules of movie science. That scientists write in symbols and talk in normal English, probably explaining to other eminent scientists how great their invention is, when the other scientists in reality would be well aware of how impressive a cold-fusion generator is and would rather hear about how it actually works.


Post 3


It's not just a matter of talking in symbols rather than talking either. Science has a whole language of its own. I mean, outside of science, who's ever heard of ions, molecules, singularities and wotnot? The trouble with scientists communicating with laymen is that the layman doesn't have the scientific background to understand the technical terminology, so the scientist has to try to explain stuff in a language that can't handle it - English (try explaining what an ion is without using any scientific terminology).


Post 4

Caveman, Evil Unix Sysadmin, betting shop operative, and SuDoku addict (Its an odd mix, but someone has to do it)

..or try explaining why you should put de-ionised water into your iron. That's a tuffie, if you're talking to my aunt.


Post 5


But It's not just science that has a whole other language. I know from friends that a linguists definition of fluent or a historians of class may be very different from the one you would use everyday. And in fact I think that can be more complicated than sciences where at least you know what you dont know (if that makes sense!)


Post 6



I disagree. Look at the homework that is turned in for a science class. Compare this to the homework that is turned in for an English, history, philosophy, political science, etc. class. The scince homework will be predominantely math, symbols and diagrams. The other will be essays.

When I was an undergrad doing orgo, one person looked at the problem set I was working on, and said "hey nice doodles ya got there". It was actual a description of how to carry out a chemical reaction, but it was written entirely in symbols.


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