Taking the Puzzlement Out of Scientific Communication

Last week, the Council's power division viewed an excellent video on the importance of communicating scientific information to the public. 

It's part of what Power Division Director Charlie Black calls prep work for the next power plan.

"Being able to explain how we develop the plan, its major components, and how different decisions interconnect, will be critical for helping people understand why it matters and how it affects them," said Black.

In the video, actor Alan Alda talks about the importance of connecting the public to science. He discovered through hosting the PBS program Scientific American Frontiers, that the best way for him to understand the complex subject matter was through informal conversations, not scripted lectures.

It's a humorous and heartfelt reflection on why there seems to be a wall, a disconnect, between scientists--or specialists of all kinds for that matter--and the public. You might say we're speaking two different languages. But Alda makes the case for why we must bridge the understanding gap, not just to nurture trust between the public and the science community, but to advance scientific understanding among scientists, too.

The Council's planning includes outreach to the public to begin that two-way converstion; to share information, listen to the concerns of people, and involve them in making important decisions about our energy future. The mid-term assessment of the last power plan was an example of this engagement, and it helped bring into focus some of the most important issues for the next plan to address.

We want to continue to do a better job of reaching people. Some ideas we have for communicating technical information include blog updates, interactive digital projects, and primers on key topics. What have you found to be effective communication tools? We'd love to hear your thoughts. In the meantime, stay tuned to our website for the latest information on building the Seventh Power Plan.