How to play well among scientists

I admit it. Scientists and communicators often don't mix well. They certainly don't share a love for numbers, or even for precision. After all, it is hard to communicate science to the public. James Watson, the co-discoverer of DNA, has provided his colleagues with something of a guidebook to making your way as a scientist.*

As reviewed in Harvard Magazine, Avoid Boring People: Lessons from a Life in Science does dwell on his past as a Harvard professor and wunderkind, but also identifies some basic traits to help battle it out in academia and the world of science:

  • Manners Needed for Important Science
  • Manners Required for Academic Civility
  • Manners Deployed for Academic Zing
  • Manners Maintained When Reluctantly Leaving Harvard
  • Science works better when the winners don’t take all
  • Share valuable research tools
  • Never be the brightest person in the room
  • Science is highly social

As the review points out, Watson often broke these rules or didn't demonstrate these traits. As communicators, however, we know that highly social systems are effective at creating "weak links" and helping transmit information and understanding. *Watson isn't without his oversize controversies, either.

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