"Providing Value"

Written by Paul Sutter on Sunday, 01 April 2018. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

It's easy to say "science is great!" It's another thing entirely to explain why.

As fans of the scientific method we should immediately recognize the need to provide evidence to back up our statements. Therefore a part of our mission as a community of scientists, educators, and communicators is to share with our audiences that science can be incorporated into their everyday lives.

In other words, our message has to be that science provides value.

Some of the value of science is in the facts, the cool stuff that generations of hard-working scientists have revealed about our world and our universe. It's fun to learn new things and figure things out, and we should definitely share that. And I have nothing against putting that front and center; after all, "gee whiz isn't that neat" forms the backbone of most of my own outreach efforts.

But it can't end with facts and basic knowledge. That's only the entry point to the true value realized by communicating science: how to think critically, how to sharpen one's mind to recognize bias and cut out BS, how to apply inductive reasoning, how to form and evaluate hypotheses, how to navigate noisy and incomplete data, and so on.

We must strive to share how we can all apply the methods of the scientific trade to solve vexing problems. Science can't find a solution to every issue (that's the subject of another piece) but it's a wonderfully handy tool that can be applied to many situations.

In other words, science can be valuable.

That's our message. That's our focus - not audience size or revenue targets or growth projections. Those are the result of providing value, not the cause. And that value isn't necessarily in what we say to our audiences, but what we create within them.

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).