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Old 01-12-2008, 01:24 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Not Real America, according to St. SaŽah
Posts: 21,798
Default Re: Science Saturday: Wet Paleontology

I'll second both Pisc and Wolf. That was a great way to spend an hour.

I especially liked the obvious enthusiasm that Neil displayed for his work. I think that one of the keys to moving some people out of their anti-science mindsets is to expose them to people like Neil -- we should stop preaching to the unconverted about why they "need to" learn science, and instead just show them the happy consequences of a developed interest. Cheerleaders are better than scolds. most days.

It's hard to imagine that the thoughts of chipping away at rocks in the Arctic and nurturing fish eggs could be exciting, but Neil sure showed that it is. Made me want to go back in time and change my major.

Some minor bits of constructive criticism, for Carl: In the future, if you do with someone you know well, you should feel free to move away from the strict parameters of a straight-up interview, and allow a little more of yourself and your shared experiences to come into play. I got the sense that, sometimes, you were asking questions that you already knew the answers to, and it felt a little pro forma.

I also felt, at some other times, that you interrupted Neil to get him to explain something that really wasn't that hard to understand from context. It's good that you want to lay some groundwork and not leave listeners floundering; on the other hand, it's also the case that many regular visitors to this site aren't dummies, and aren't going to panic if they hear a few new concepts that aren't immediately defined. In particular, the science literacy of the audience is much higher, on average, than the readership that the editors of the NYT seem to aim at, and if you narrow it down to the "Science Saturdays" fans, the gap gets even bigger.

A big part of what I look for on this site, especially when expert guests appear, is the opportunity to have my brain stretched. Worst comes to worst, I have available the pause and rewind buttons, not to mention the Google. So, I'm just saying that while I appreciate your concern for the audience, you don't need to spoon-feed us. Let your partner tell the story without worrying whether we understand every last bit the first time we hear it. He's a teacher, after all, and probably knows how to get his point across.

Thanks for listening.
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