Have you ever felt like you needed an encyclopedia while reading a science blog? Science is both fascinating and functional, but its high-level language and difficult to understand subject matter can put off even readers who are very interested and dedicated to knowing more. As science education in the US continues to lag behind, the general community struggles to find the way in scientific research; meanwhile, scientists themselves can’t always remember their lives before proficiency thanks to “the curse of knowledge,” making it harder for them to communicate with general public. So how can scientists learn to communicate their research effectively without drowning their audience in scientific terms?
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Holon Institute of Technology (HIT) have developed a program that identifies jargon, terms that non-scientists might not be familiar with, to help scientists recognize when they should either explain or avoid certain languages in their work. The objective of the program is to boost engagement, and to make that process easier and more rewarding all around. Called the De-Jargonizer, the free tool that can be available at scienceandpublic.com
To de-jargonize their own work, scientists simply paste text into the tool. The algorithm then assesses the text base on the frequency with which of the words appear on an online news site that’s aimed at the public. The output version of the text with words colour coded: black for general vocabulary that is either frequent or intermediate level and orange to red for jargon. The researchers will update the amount periodically, and it can be lengthened to include other languages and sources.
The De-Jargonizer researchers found that scientists “instinctively understand” that interpolation to the community demands of simpler language, they mostly failed at achieving that level of communication in their research. The result was an unplanned exclusion of their anticipated audience. This is not solely a problem of scientists attempting to communicate findings to the public, either; technical experts creating policy, doctors communicating with patients, and a host of other experts and professionals could use a tool like De-Jargonizer to make research, science, policy, and other high-level knowledge easier to get to the public.
Neil deGrasse Tyson have illustrious the importance of this assignment. Recently Tyson took to Facebook to communicate the importance on a daily basis people understanding science, saying that his message might hold “what may be the generally important words I have ever spoken.” In his short video, He explained why it is so important for constituency to be technically educated, highlighting the call for for people to understand the diversity between facts and opinions. Bill Nye’s new show, which is geared toward adults, also operates from the myth-busting perception.
Recent poll results specify that large portions of the community simply don’t trust scientists. This makes the problem to communicate in significant scientific issues, such as the safety of vaccines, climate change, even tougher for experts. Arthur Caplan, Founding Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University, thinks better science communication is the key to rescue public trust. This places of interest the importance of a tool like the De-Jargonizer, which can create a more informed public and a more productive dialogue by making research and science available to all — something absolutely important in these difficult times.