Does science and politics always go together in the minds of scientists and policymakers? Tim Ward, the co-founder of Intermedia Communications Training, strongly disagrees with this. Watch him speak on ways of bridging the gap between scientists and policymakers on this Crastina interview.
“You do not simply do science, you’re always doing science as a human being.”
Highlights of this interview with Tim Ward:
On his book: Pro-Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics
Tim co-authored this book with Dr. Gleb Tsipursky whom we interviewed for our past theme “talking to disbelievers”. He talked to us about the Pro-truth pledge on which he has based a first book “The Truth-Seeker’s Handbook: A Science-Based Guide“, a civic project to promote truthfulness and integrity for individuals, professionals, and leaders.
“Pro-Truth: A Practical Plan for Putting Truth Back Into Politics” acts as a follow-up to help citizens learn to protect themselves from lies, and empower them to put truth back into politics.
What was your motivation behind this book?
“The first Chapter of this book will really appeal to scientists: “How to observe and detect different kind of lies that politicians like to tell.” In this chapter we encourage the readers to be like a scientist doing a taxonomy of lies because if you listen closely to politicians you can see that there are ways that they express lies that are patterned. If you recognize them you can protect yourself against it.
Example: Politicians often lie by offering very vague statements. If you hear a vague statement from a politician you can say hmmm why is there no fact supporting that statement? If there is no fact you can think that the opposite could be true too! So you can flip it around and look for the facts that support this statement instead and discover the truth. By doing so, you can keep your mind from being infected by the lie.
He (Gleb Tsipursky) and I have a common deep fundamental belief that the truth matters. It is something really core to his identity and to mine as well. We also share a deep fundamental horror, and we’ve seen it happen in American politics where a president has been elected and has governed as if the truth does not matter. But in ignoring facts, this leads inevitably to incompetence, corruption and authoritarianism. We’ve seen a pandemic, something that science is built to deal with, being dealt with with a level of incompetence that is really inexcusable because the truth was not valued by our political leaders.
In this campaign season, Gleb and I brought out this book because we really want to show people that it starts with truth, truth is fundamental.”
What do you think of science communication in the context of the ongoing pandemic?
The pandemic is a fantastic opportunity for the world to see science for what it is to humanity. There has been so much research and analysis done, we actually have so much better understanding of the virus than of the pathogens of similar pandemics in the past. The fact that there are vaccines in the third phase trials at this moment is staggering! People are more interested in scientists doing their jobs well because it really is a life and death issue. This is a moment for scientists to rise to the challenge, even those who aren’t epidemiologists. They can do this by better explaining what science is up to, and why people should listen to what scientists have to say.
About Dr Anthony Fauci “America’s Man on Infectious Diseases”: He has been able to maintain scientific objectivity throughout the pandemic and thus his trust is very high with the America public. There are two things that we can learn from Dr Fauci:
- Integrity, he will speak the truth and he will not be compromised.
- Fearlessness: he will not be silenced, even by the person who could fire him..
I believe that integrity and fearlessness only come from being challenged and my wish for all young scientists would be that every time that you are challenged, to see this as an opportunity to build integrity and fearlessness.”
Think like a scientist: what is the outcome that I want? how can I design the right vehicle for my information to get across?
What advice would you provide a scientist who wishes to better their communication skills?
“My primary advice for a scientist who really wants to have a powerful impact is to find opportunities to admit you are wrong, not just in your professional life, in your personal life practice whenever your partner or spouse catches you in an error you have made, don’t defend yourself, say: I was wrong, thank you for pointing that out. Scientists are human, it is natural to not want to admit that you are wrong. But ask yourself this: “Were you born to never be wrong?” So, scientists in training: get used to admitting when you are wrong in your personal life, that will make it so easier to stand on scientific integrity in your professional life.
Why does it matter? Because the public really doesn’t understand science. People want cures, new inventions and occasionally fascinating details about dinosaurs. Scientist biggest mistake is to communicate with people as is they were scientists and bore them will all the details of their experiments. Scientists need to be scientific in their approach to communications. Their goal should be to make a significative difference in the thinking of the person they are speaking to.. So put these three communications tips into practice:
- Think about your main message. How can you can put it succinctly in plain language so its emotional importance will come across? A clear message will create an anchor in your audience’s mind. Only once you have interested them with your main idea will they will have the tolerance to listen to more detail.
- Avoid Jargon when speaking to a general audience. You need to become a translator!
- Seek opportunities to speak, do not wait to be asked.”
From Tim for our readers: “My thanks to your dedication to science and your willingness to promote the truth”
Where can you find Tim Ward?
- Intermedia Communication Training offer training, customized workshops and executive consulting advice for those who aspire to excellence in communication! Contact them to book a virtual training!
- Tim Ward Bibliography
- Selection of Tim Ward books:
We want to thank Isaak Tarampoulous our Webmaster for editing this video interview!
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