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Better science through listening to lay people

D9aa7aec6bbdb4d8ba6a6b7f7dd07df6?s=47 Mark D.
June 08, 2013

Better science through listening to lay people

We all have them: intellectual blind spots. For scientists, one way to become aware of them is to listen to people outside the academic bubble. I discuss examples from social media and serendipitous fieldwork. Social media helps academics to connect to diverse audiences. On my research blog ideophone.org, I have used the interaction with readers to refine research questions, tighten definitions, and explore new directions, but also to connect science and art. In linguistic and ethnographic fieldwork in Ghana, I have let serendipity shape my research. Unexpected questions and bold initiatives from locals led me in directions I would never have anticipated on the basis of expert knowledge. Ultimately the involvement of lay people led to methodological innovations, changes of perspective, and most importantly, a host of new questions.

Presented at EC2013 in a session convened by Alex Verkade & Jen Wong on 'Playing dumb: Escaping the shackles of smartness'.

Supporting material at http://ideophone.org/better-science/

D9aa7aec6bbdb4d8ba6a6b7f7dd07df6?s=128

Mark D.

June 08, 2013
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Transcript

  1. Better science through listening to lay people Mark Dingemanse Max

    Planck Institute, Nijmegen ecsite Annual Conference Göteborg, June 6-8, 2013
  2. What is the goal of science?

  3. ‘Finding answers’ What is the goal of science?

  4. Asking the right questions What is the goal of science?

  5. scholarly libraries scholarly journals scholarly conferences scholarly peers

  6. scholarly questions scholarly libraries scholarly journals scholarly conferences scholarly peers

  7. scholarly questions

  8. None
  9. None
  10. Escaping the bubble

  11. Tale 1

  12. October 2007: PhD student starts research blog. January 2008: Boss

    calls meeting with PhD.
  13. “Don’t be stupid and give away your ideas.”

  14. ideas beget ideas

  15. None
  16. None
  17. * synaesthesia: a blending of the senses, e.g. letters >

    colours
  18. Synaesthesia had been on our mind — how is it

    expressed in societies without writing? The comment connected linguistics to neuroscience and creativity — and helped us reach a tipping point. The next year, we pioneered a cross-cultural research program into synaesthesia.
  19. February 2009: Science publishes a letter. It started out as

    a blog posting. Later that year Journalist ‘reads blog every week’. Radio & TV appearances follow.
  20. February 2009: Science publishes a letter. It started out as

    a blog posting. Later that year Journalist ‘reads blog every week’. Radio & TV appearances follow.
  21. What started as a simple blog turned into a free

    exchange of ideas helped to connect to diverse audiences and snowballed into science communication
  22. What started as a simple blog turned into a free

    exchange of ideas helped to connect to diverse audiences and snowballed into science communication
  23. What started as a simple blog turned into a free

    exchange of ideas helped to connect to diverse audiences and snowballed into science communication
  24. What started as a simple blog turned into a free

    exchange of ideas helped to connect to diverse audiences and snowballed into science communication
  25. Soon after Boss calls meeting with PhD. ‘Blogging not so

    bad after all.’
  26. Tale 2

  27. I do on-site fieldwork in Ghana, West-Africa

  28. I do on-site fieldwork in Ghana, West-Africa Documenting the language

    and culture of the Mawu people. Studying ideophones—words that sound like what they mean.
  29. kɛlɛnkɛlɛn the cloth shines ‘glittery’

  30. sinisinisinisini the basket is put together ‘closely woven’

  31. How to study these complex, elusive words? Scholarly wisdom ideophones

    only found ‘in informal, funny stories’ Scholarly methods taking field notes recording stories
  32. Quite unrelatedly: A practical request

  33. “You should help us record our mourning songs” Timothy ‘T.T.’

    Akuamoah
  34. None
  35. The mourning songs turned out to be chock-full of ideophones.

    A simple, practical request led to a crucial research finding
  36. What started as scholarly fieldwork was quickly repurposed by my

    Mawu friends turned into a mutually beneficial relationship and led to serendipitous research findings
  37. What started as scholarly fieldwork was quickly repurposed by my

    Mawu friends turned into a mutually beneficial relationship and led to serendipitous research findings
  38. What started as scholarly fieldwork was quickly repurposed by my

    Mawu friends turned into a mutually beneficial relationship and led to serendipitous research findings
  39. What started as scholarly fieldwork was quickly repurposed by my

    Mawu friends turned into a mutually beneficial relationship and led to serendipitous research findings
  40. Concluding

  41. Questions are the fuel of science We’re privileged when people

    ask questions.
  42. Questions are the fuel of science We’re privileged when people

    ask questions. We’re privileged when people ask questions not because we can then go into ‘explanation mode’ but because they prompt us to think anew
  43. Science gets better when we listen to lay people and

    look at things with new eyes
  44. Thank you. Mark Dingemanse • ideophone.org • Max Planck Society

    for the Advancement of Science