Tag: MIT

The Reasons For Sci Comm Training

By Chris Mooney | May 25, 2010 9:28 am

Sagan TimeWhen I blogged the other day about the media training I was doing at MIT, the first comment read as follows:

Frauds at work.

Science is not about PR, Mooney.

You and your ilk make me feel both ill, and embarassed to say I am a scientist.

You should go crawl back under your rock.

To which Aileen Pincus, who also does media training, ably replied:

There’s no question that science is losing the public relations battle, so it’s interesting to me to still find scientists like the poster above who obviously believe that learning to communicate the science somehow harms the science. Yes, those who apply science commercially don’t suffer from such delusions, and they’re a good many of my clients. Others however, come to understand the real world of how science in funded only after long, losing struggles. Public support for science, essential to that funding, isn’t something to be scorned–and that can only happen when scientists learn how to talk to non-scientists.

Indeed–and that is only one of the reasons that many scientists are interested in having such trainings. Read More

Do Scientists Want (or Need) Media Training?

By Chris Mooney | May 23, 2010 4:14 pm

Sagan TimeTomorrow at MIT, I’ll be giving a four hour “boot camp” on science communication to a group of graduate students and other interested parties. The session begins with an overview of the “theory” of science communication–why we must do it better, what the obstacles are, and how a changing media environment makes it much tougher than it was during the era when the dude at right was so popular (the same era when the dude at *top* right was about to deregulate the media…).

Then, the session goes into a media “how to”–rules for interacting with journalists, media do’s and don’ts, and an overview of various key communication “technologies,” such as framing. Finally, it ends with a role playing in which the scientists get to try out their chops in a Colbert-style interview, and see if they can stay on message while traversing the very rockiest of media seas.

I get the sense there is an increasing demand for this kind of training, which is often not provided in the standard science graduate curriculum. The hunger seems especially strong among the younger set of scientists.

Why? Read More

On The Color of Hamburger

By Chris Mooney | March 23, 2010 10:44 am

20080919-rare-classicinnardsHere at MIT, we’re doing a science journalism boot camp this week on food. And I’ve already picked up my first troublesome factoid: Hamburgers that look well done, observes J. Glenn Morris, Director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida, aren’t necessarily safe.

In his lecture this morning, Morris observed that while cooking meat at a temperature of 160 degrees kills pathogens like the dangerous E. coli 0157:H7, 25 percent of hamburger patties will appear cooked at lower temperatures than that. Therefore, not only are rare or medium rare patties not necessarily safe to eat, but even a brown color shouldn’t inspire full confidence.

In truth, you need a food thermometer to be sure you’ve got a well cooked hamburger. And nobody whips those out before digging in at a fast food or pubby food restaurant.

I know I don’t, and I eat a lot of hamburgers. Or at least, I used to.

More technical details here.


MIT's Medical Evidence Boot Camp

By Chris Mooney | December 1, 2009 8:58 am

MedEv09All week this week, I’ll be attending this Knight program “boot camp” on medical evidence reporting, with a lot of big speakers like former FDA chief David Kessler and New England Journal of Medicine editor in chief Jerome Kassirer. This may inspire lots of great blogging in real time from the sessions–or, I may be so busy learning about things like relative risk that I will be more or less silent. Remains to be seen.

But in any event, this is a good time to plug the Knight science journalism boot camps, which are really extraordinary–I’ve been wanting to attend one for some time, and this year I get to attend two (the next one, in March, is on food). So check it out….

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