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Politics Of Climate Change (In Australia)

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  • Eric Britton
    Food for thought as we try to turn our great ideas into reality (at which most of us are not so hot. Present company included.) Here is a very interesting
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 12, 2010

    Food for thought as we try to turn our great ideas into reality (at which most of us are not so hot. Present company included.)


    Here is a very interesting think piece on this by our friend Keith Sutter from Australia. The four page piece is attached. Here are two excerpts to whet your appetite:


    Communicating Science


                Olson argues that there are four “layers” of communication, rather like a pyramid, with the layers getting broader as they move towards to the base.

    1.     At the top of the pyramid is the “mind” – which is where most scientists spend most of their time. They communicate learnedly with each other in a careful, heavily foot-noted style.

    2.     The next layer down is the “heart”: the locus of love.

    3.     The third layer is the “gut”: locus of fear.

    4.     The base of the pyramid are the “reproductive organs”, which is why so many people, companies and organizations use romance etc for marketing – it is the easiest way to reach the broadest number of people whatever is being sold: cars, chocolate, clothes etc.



    New Thinking on Communication


    Being smart is not much use if that cannot be communicated. The lesson of the Olson book is that much more attention needs to be given to the basics of communication.

    A good lesson here is from the oil industry. The industry distinguishes between “upstream” and “downstream” activities. The upstream activities relate to finding oil and drilling for it. The downstream activities relate to the distribution out to the consumers. Science needs to pay more attention to the “downstream” activities. The Olson book provides some ideas.

    Another good example comes from nurse Georgia Sadler[1]. She wanted to educate women on certain health issues. She did the right thing – speaking at religious institutions, community organizations etc. But the women who came to hear her were already aware of the issues. How could she reach the women who were not coming to her presentations?

    Sadler used creative thinking. An American woman has a more intimate relationship with her hair stylist than with virtually anyone else. She realized that a hairdressing salon would provide women with a relaxed atmosphere in which to hear new ideas.  She sought advice on how to educate hairdressers on how they could in turn inform their clients about the health issues. She then created a highly successful education programme.



    The conclusion is, then, we need to find more innovative ways of communicating science to the general public. There are certainly plenty of “lateral thinking” ideas available on communication. It just needs a more innovative mobilization of those techniques. Perhaps this could be a CPTM “Smart Partnership” project?


    [1]           See: Malcolm Caldwell The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, London : Abacus, 2000, pp 253-55

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