Michelle EH Fournet

Postdoctoral Researcher, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bioacoustics Research Program
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Bioacoustics Research Program
  • United States of America

About Michelle EH Fournet

Dr. Fournet is an acoustic ecologist investigating the role of sound in the marine environment. Her research interests include animal communication, the relationship between human activities and marine acoustic habitats, and science communication.

Topics

Channels contributed to:

Open Access Week 2018

Recent Comments

Oct 25, 2018
Replying to Kamil F. Dziubek

I absolutely agree that scientific achievements should belong to all humankind, but I am not convinced if the language of science must be always interpreted for the general public. The scientific literacy is defined in the National Science Education Standards (https://www.nap.edu/catalog/4962/national-science-education-standards) as: "the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity". For instance, I would like to know enough about the effectiveness, side effects, precautions and interactions of a prescription drug before taking the decision to start therapy, but I do not necessarily need to know its mechanism of action on a molecular level. In the case of the cited paper, I am not an expert in the field but I presume that not all the elasmobranchs are sharks and not all the auditory cues can be considered as music. There is another famous quote often attributed to Einstein (but there is no direct evidence he actually said that): "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler". By oversimplifying things we can fall into the trap of vagueness, and the science must be accurate to work. That is why the Nature journals also publish News and Views, short and accessible articles that "inform nonspecialist readers about new scientific advances, as reported either in recently published papers or at scientific meetings" (https://www.nature.com/others.html#newsandviews). On the other hand, I agree that the scientific literature become increasingly unreadable and peppered with scientific jargon that is hard to understand, even by experts in the field (https://elifesciences.org/articles/27725), which make the studies virtually inaccessible and irreproducible.

(Also take a look at the abstract for the shark manuscript- it's really a fascinating study. They did indeed play two types of music - classical and jazz - to sharks to determine if they could tell the difference!)

Oct 25, 2018
Replying to Kamil F. Dziubek

I absolutely agree that scientific achievements should belong to all humankind, but I am not convinced if the language of science must be always interpreted for the general public. The scientific literacy is defined in the National Science Education Standards (https://www.nap.edu/catalog/4962/national-science-education-standards) as: "the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity". For instance, I would like to know enough about the effectiveness, side effects, precautions and interactions of a prescription drug before taking the decision to start therapy, but I do not necessarily need to know its mechanism of action on a molecular level. In the case of the cited paper, I am not an expert in the field but I presume that not all the elasmobranchs are sharks and not all the auditory cues can be considered as music. There is another famous quote often attributed to Einstein (but there is no direct evidence he actually said that): "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler". By oversimplifying things we can fall into the trap of vagueness, and the science must be accurate to work. That is why the Nature journals also publish News and Views, short and accessible articles that "inform nonspecialist readers about new scientific advances, as reported either in recently published papers or at scientific meetings" (https://www.nature.com/others.html#newsandviews). On the other hand, I agree that the scientific literature become increasingly unreadable and peppered with scientific jargon that is hard to understand, even by experts in the field (https://elifesciences.org/articles/27725), which make the studies virtually inaccessible and irreproducible.

Hi Kamil, Thanks for the careful read. Sounds like you and I are in generally in agreement. I don't know that we'll ever have a society of people in which everyone wants to understand the minutia of scientific methodology, nor do I think that the tradeoffs associated with mastering that level of scientific understanding are reasonable; a potter can understand the subtly of the clay without mastering it's chemical structure, and perhaps the time devoted to the potter's wheel is time well spent. I think you've captured it exactly in the 'most-likely-Einstein' quote- as simple as possible, and no simpler. But the baseline of 'no simpler' is constantly moving. To accomplish a scientifically literate society requires both a shift in how we communicate, and also a shift in the value of education in our respective societies. This can be hard earned for communities struggling with poverty or war, and requires valiant and dedicated effort in developed nations that face waning confidence in science. For a long time science and society were held separate by class, privilege, and circumstance (there's a nice mention to this in another blog in this thread: https://chemistrycommunity.nature.com/channels/1861-open-access-week-2018/posts/40139-open-access-scientific-publishing-3-0). We are dealing with the ramifications of our scientific history. You also raise some really excellent points about resources that are available, and the journals leading the way in adding value to them. May many of us choice to use them!