Examining Offhand Comments: Messages about Science

Tim Watkins and I have gotten some positive feedback about our article in Legacy Magazine. I am interested in collecting other examples of statements that could be reworded to spark conversation and inquiry. What can you add?

Read the article, which starts on p. 24 (the link is on the home page) or scroll down.


Statement Implied Alternative statement Implied
Everyone knows … There’s no room for disagreement I used to be skeptical about … until I heard (or read or saw or worked on) … Skepticism is permitted or even welcome, and is not a permanent condition, but rather can precede a newly formed opinion based on evidence or discovery
In answer to how many, how fast, how far: The data show that … There is an answer based on research Want to hear a really good story about how researchers figured it out? I worked with them last summer … Stories of how we know what we know are interesting, especially when framed by the human ingenuity it took to figure it out
In answer to a question about a resource: Good question. I don’t know. This is a dead end conversation, not worth discussing more. I don’t know. What do you think it would take to figure that out? What else are you wondering? Questions drive research. All of us are equipped to think scientifically about a question.
The rule is [no food in the cave, no collecting on protected lands]. Rules are park prerogative. Visitors and park staff realized that xyz was causing problems such as … or xyz traditional practice could be sustainable if … Observation and experience from a broad group inform policy. Science serves US.
Geologists know these things. Knowledge is created by professionals through sophisticated methods you don’t need to know about Researchers have experimented to find out … Researchers Named Thus and So collected data on … You don’t have to be gifted; with effort one can figure something out.


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