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Do researchers need to step up their PR game?

Interesting opinion piece by Wired's Erin Biba arguing that scientists need to improve their PR game:

This kind of talk unsettles scientists. "Scientists hate the word spin. They get bent out of shape by the concept that they should frame their message," says Jennifer Ouellette, director of the Science and Entertainment Exchange, a National Academy of Sciences program that helps connect the entertainment industry with technical consultants. "They feel that the facts should speak for themselves. They're not wrong; they're just not realistic." By and large, Dash says, "scientists have withdrawn from the sphere of public culture. They have contempt for the lighthearted fun of communication."

I'm not sure I agree with everything in the piece (particularly the bit about the need for celebrity ambassadors), but it's absolutely right that scientist need to increase their participation in public culture. Greater interaction with the public would allow researchers to more effectively counter misinformation - for example, the myth that vaccines cause autism.

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