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What Scientists and Policymakers Need to Learn From Each Other Talk presented by Tobin Smith Director of Federal Relations for Research University of.

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Presentation on theme: "What Scientists and Policymakers Need to Learn From Each Other Talk presented by Tobin Smith Director of Federal Relations for Research University of."— Presentation transcript:

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2 What Scientists and Policymakers Need to Learn From Each Other Talk presented by Tobin Smith Director of Federal Relations for Research University of Michigan AAAS Auditorium April 13, 2002

3 Who am I? U-M alumU-M alum --BGS Degree Spent a summer as an Intern on Capitol HillSpent a summer as an Intern on Capitol Hill 3 years on Capitol Hill as legislative aide3 years on Capitol Hill as legislative aide -- MA in Legislative Affairs 7 Years in the MIT Washington Office7 Years in the MIT Washington Office 3 Years in the U-M Washington Office3 Years in the U-M Washington Office

4 What is my Job? Director of Federal Relations for ResearchDirector of Federal Relations for Research Registered LobbyistRegistered Lobbyist Cross cultural communicationsCross cultural communications -- The business of making the work of scientists and engineers relevant to the average person Never gets boringNever gets boring Always learningAlways learning

5 The two totally different worlds between which I commute daily!

6 World #1: The Political World I double majored in history and English and then went to Harvard law. How about you?

7 World #2: The Academic World

8 Defining the Cultural Divide ScientistsPoliticians/Policymakers NumbersWords Objective/FactsSubjective/Public Opinion Use JargonSpeak English QuantitativeQualitative TechnicalPolitical Problem seekersIssue seekers Ask whyAsk why they should care Money = researchMoney = getting re-elected Think long termThink short term Publicity avoidersPublicity hounds Science page Front page Narrowly focused Broadly focused Intangible Tangible

9 Why do we need more people with science and engineering backgrounds in policymaking positions? Public does not understand sciencePublic does not understand science Policymakers do not understand sciencePolicymakers do not understand science Journalists do not understand scienceJournalists do not understand science Scientists are not good at communicating with these groupsScientists are not good at communicating with these groups Scientists dont communicate with these groupsScientists dont communicate with these groups

10 Most Do Not Recognize NSF What is the name of the government agency that funds most of the basic research and educational programming in the sciences, mathematics and engineering in this country? Source: Aggregate 2001 Charlton Research Company for Research!America

11 Most Do Not Recognize NIH What is the name of the government agency that funds most of the medical research paid for by taxpayers in this country? Source: Aggregate 2001 Charlton Research Company for Research!America

12 Public Not Familiar With Top Science Prizes Source: Harris Interactive, October 2000 Which, if any, of these prizes or awards are you familiar with?

13 General Topics of Op-Eds (approximate Percentage based on >500 op-eds reviewed) Source: Who is Writing Op-Eds? Sanford Institute National Opinion Page Survey, Duke University

14 NATIONAL OPINION TRENDS ARE POSITIVE. By almost a three to one margin, voters today say federal funding for scientific research at universities should be increased, not decreased. Over the next three years, do you think the total amount of federal funding for scientific research at universities should be increased, decreased or remain the same? --The Science Coalition 19% 29% 27% 11% 49% 50% Wirthlin 1995POS 2001 IncreasedDecreasedRemain the same

15 Scientists and Engineers Need to Become More Engaged Many researchers do not like to communicateMany researchers do not like to communicate Many dont have time to communicateMany dont have time to communicate When scientists and engineers do communicate, they are often not very effectiveWhen scientists and engineers do communicate, they are often not very effective -- Cultural divide -- Entitlement mentality

16 Transcending the Language Barrier

17 THE NATIONAL DATA ACTUALLY SUGGESTS INCORPORATING THE PHRASE UNIVERSITY-BASED MAKES SENSE AS IT SCORES HIGHER AMONG OPINION ELITES AND OUR CORE SUPPORTERS. % Rating % 17% 24% 21% 18% 35% 28% 26% 41% Basic Science Research Fundamental Science Research University-based Science Research % Among All Voters % Among Opinion Elites % Among Strong Approve Funding for Universities (38%)

18 While I realize that scientists by nature often feel uncomfortable with advocacy, if we all stayed within our comfort zones, little would be accomplished. Though perhaps they are not well understood, scientists are highly respected in our society. They are also highly credible. When they speak with a unified voice, the people listen. ~Hon. John Edward Porter, at White House Office of Science and Technology Policy 25th Anniversary Symposium

19 Scientists Involvement In Public Outreach Perceived reasons why more scientists arent more involved in changing/supporting public policy. (total mentions) Source: Sigma Xi Membership Poll (AK, DE, OH & TX) in Cooperation with Research!America, 2000

20 New York Times: How skilled are scientists and researchers at presenting their case to Congress? Congressman Brown: They, generally speaking, have too great a faith in the power of common sense and reason. Thats not what drives most political figures, who are concerned about emotions and the way a certain event will affect their constituency… Excerpt from A Conversation With George E. Brown, Jr., the Congressman Who Loved Science by Claudia Dreifus, The New York Times, 3/9/99

21 Too many voters have not made the connection between science and prosperity. Scientists need to tell the story. Its a good story. It has to be told and it has to be sold. Tell the story with data, tell it with anecdotes and tell it often. ~ Neal Lane, Ph.D. Former White House Science Advisor

22 What Can Scientists Learn From Politicians You have to talk to be heard Relationships outside your immediate peer group can be beneficial to you Words matter –Avoid jargon –Dont use acronyms –Shorter can be better Accessibility, visibility and accountability matter Science is only one piece of the policymaking puzzle

23 What Can Politicians Learn from Scientists MORE ABOUT SCIENCE!!!MORE ABOUT SCIENCE!!! Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind --Samuel Johnson, The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young. --Henry Ford --Henry Ford

24 What Can Politicians Learn from Scientists Cont. There is value in knowledge Sometimes the correct solution is driven by asking the right questions Not every problem has an easy and quick answer Think not only for today but for tomorrow Good science is essential to good policymaking

25 Be A Civic Scientist Increasingly, society requires citizens with technical expertise as communicators. In times of routine information dissemination, and most especially in times of emergencies, we have a responsibility. Scientists and engineers must be prepared for these new and more public roles. And it stands to reason that that preparation should become part of the routine training of our technical professionals. Science As Patriotism" Dr. Rita R. Colwell Director, National Science Foundation January 30, 2002

26 Policymakers Need to be More Scientifically Minded


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