Monday, January 13, 2014

Relatedness in action in science practice (#2)

As my first post on "relatedness in action" mentioned, I'm trying to make the concept less abstract by pointing to examples of it that I see in the science world. Science journalist Michelle Nijhuis recently wrote a piece in the New York Times Opinionator blog on "The Science and Art of Science Writing." You should go read the whole thing, but in short it beautifully describes her work as a newly minted college graduate who while "looking for strange animals in strange places" found herself even more fascinated by the scientists she was working with as they gathered eagerly around a rattlesnake than she was by the snake itself.

The thing that struck me most about this piece was that she talks about science writing as a practice that at its best purposefully incorporates both the people that do science and the people impacted by it, including the messy human reality of the whole endeavor. She says:
"The most memorable science writing also puts humans back in the equation, introducing the reader to both the people behind the science and the people affected by it, for better and worse."
"By reacquainting the head with the heart, we science writers tell the story of the frustrations, false starts, triumphs and breakthroughs that lead to the solution — or, in many cases, to even more questions."
There is a strong relational thread throughout - from researchers relating to a snake to a science writer relating to the researchers comes a much larger connection. An inspiring, essential relatedness emanates from the piece.

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