Why I Left Academe to Become a Science Communicator: The pursuit of academic research was too narrow for me.

From explaining the effectiveness of social distancing for preventing the spread of COVID-19 to communicating earthquake preparedness plans to the public, scicomm efforts are vital for helping turn research into action. Yet despite scicomm’s importance, it remains a hugely overlooked, underdeveloped and unknown area in academia. Academics are trained to communicate with other academics, and jargon-filled research papers prevent broad audiences from engaging with and understanding impactful scientific discoveries.

Make your case stronger – argue against yourself

Academic argument depends on being able to produce the best possible information, presented in a convincing sequence. But we are usually advised we also need to take account of counter points. We need to consider and deal with different positions and troubling information. Wearing blinkers while arguing trips us up, stops us being credible. An obvious way to address the negative is to find alternative views in the literature, or…

I absolutely adored Spock. Loving Dad was much more complicated.

A great father-son story, written by Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy. I was 10 when “Star Trek” debuted in 1966, and I was reading Spider-Man comics and listening to the Beatles at home in LA — a very different experience from having to deliver newspapers in the dead of a Boston winter. Dad’s zeal for work had its downside. His career always came first. He was not one to…

For years, I’ve tried to work my way back into the middle class

Well-meaning people tried to encourage me by pointing out how far I had come. “You’re working!” they said, “You’re housed!” And the declaration I found most diminishing: “I’m so proud of you!” I was 52 and I did not mark my progress by those measurements. Rather, I marked my progress by how far I had fallen. What did it mean that I was earning enough to rent a room in…

MAGA World Is Splintering: Following the riot at the Capitol, Trump supporters are having an existential crisis on Twitter.

Bryson Gray, a 29-year-old rapper and Donald Trump superfan from North Carolina, wants to make one thing clear: It was a group of the president’s most loyal supporters that rioted in the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday, and nobody else. When I spoke with Gray yesterday, he said he had been “too late” to get inside the Capitol itself with the rest of the mob, which broke windows and chanted…

Responding to Literature at the College Level

A new handout, based on the opening lecture I give in every literature class. I’m trying to uncouple this chunk of content, which never changes, from the “intro to the course” lecture, which is topic-specific. Your high school teachers probably praised you for summarizing what you read and perhaps relating it to your own life in an engaging way. But your college professors will probably ask you to do a…

Motivation Amid Crisis (Autotrophic Bat)

As part of an independent study project, a graduating Seton Hill student wrote a blog about self-publishing her original collection of fairy-tale adaptations. She’s a double-major in creative writing and graphic design, and she freely adapted each story and illustrated each one in a different style. (She’ll be self-publishing her anthology soon, and I’ll certainly post about it.) Here is a reflection she wrote on staying motivated during the pandemic:…

Far-Right Twitter Trolls Won’t Admit They Were Wrong About Killing of a “Patriot” in Denver

  It was a reporter’s bodyguard, not an anti-fascist activist, who shot and killed a right-wing demonstrator who had assaulted him. The viral spread of those false claims apparently alarmed the Denver Police Department, which had taken Dolloff into custody along with the journalist he was guarding and quickly determined that they were not left-wing protesters. Less than four hours after the shooting, the department tried to stem the tide…

Donald Trump Is a Broken Man (Assessment by Speechwriter for Reagan and both Bushes)

Powerful assessment of Donald Trump, written by Peter Wehner, a speechwriter who served Reagan and both Bushes. For context, here’s what Wehner writes about the conservative movement during the Reagan years: The conservative movement in the 1980s, although hardly flawless, was intellectually serious and politically optimistic. And Reagan himself was a man of personal decency, grace, and class. While often the target of nasty attacks, he maintained a remarkably charitable…

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Theatre Crowd Mustn’t Be Bitter

The en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try seems up­set that pubs are to be opened be­fore any theatres or mu­sic venues. But you can un­der­stand why the pubs have pri­or­ity – it’s a mat­ter of safety. Theatres are wild places where you can’t con­trol the public. So of­ten, dur­ing a show by a comic, the au­di­ence spreads viruses by for­get­ting they have a ticket for seat 19b and mov­ing across to seat 23f and…

NYPD’s Lt. Cattani offers heartfelt apology for “wrong decision” that threw his reputation “in the garbage” May 31

Cops are trained to make snap decisions under highly stressful situations. Often their training saves lives. Sometimes they deeply regret decisions they make. After thinking back on his recent behavior while working during a protest at Foley Square May 31, NYPD officer Robert Cattani offered a heartfelt apology: “I know I made the wrong decision,” he told his colleagues in an e-mail first reported by the NY Post Thursday. “I…

Now Is the Perfect Time to Memorize a Poem

Powerful writing, by Matthew Schneier. Most of the essay is on the power of poetry as an oral art form. (See also Poetry is for the Ear and Poetry Writing Hacks: Top 10 Tips.) But I blogged it because of the paragraphs about the author’s father. Right now, a machine is breathing for my father, buying time in a ward I can neither visit nor see. The doctors talk a…

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The High Ground (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 12) Sensitive, Artistic Terrorist Is Also a Terrorist

(Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break) Crusher finds herself sympathizing with the charming terrorist who kidnapped her. After last week’s “The Hunted” and the week before’s “The Defector,” it seems the writers are very interested in humanizing perceived enemies. An unusually exposition-heavy captain’s log establishes the Enterprise is visiting a non-aligned world shaken by terrorists. We want to like the romantic separatist leader who mourns the death of his own…

Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting

Thoughtful essay from Julio Vincent Gambuto. Get ready, my friends. What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again. It will come from brands, it will come from government, it will even come from each other, and it will come from the left and from the right. We will do anything, spend anything, believe anything, just…

Disagreement Hierarchy: Arguments, ranked from name-calling to the careful refutation of an opponent’s central point

My weekend coronavirus lockdown project was writing up a new handout devoted to Graham’s “Disagreement Hierarchy” for academic arguments. Does the word “argument” make you think of angry people yelling? This document presents Graham’s “disagreement hierarchy,” which catalogs multiple stages between juvenile name-calling and carefully refuting an error in your opponent’s central point. Siblings might “argue” over who gets the comfy chair. Persuasion in that case might involve out-shouting or…

“You work for the @CollegeBoard?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the #POTUS!”

“Unsweetened tea. And can you use this cup?” “You work for the College Board?” the bright-eyed teen behind the fast food counter asks, spying my branded mug. I tell her I sometimes mark #APEnglish tests. “I’m taking three AP classes now!” she says. “After I go to college, I want to be the president!” I give her quick pointers on the essays. Don’t start churning out filler right away. A…