Grad Studies/Postdoctoral Training Available

David Longley David at
Sat May 13 12:00:38 EST 1995

In article <3p087j$i8c at steele.ohsu.EDU> jonesmat at "Matt Jones" writes:

> The notion that scientists are able to understand *anything* that lay
> people *can not* is not an indictment of lay people's lack of
> understanding, but rather of scientists' poor teaching. The whole purpose
> of science is to teach people things. That's why we have journals and
> newsgroups. I suggest that if we want the luxury of doing the science
> that *we* find most rewarding and interesting and important, then we will
> have to become better at teaching the public why they should pay so many
> of us to do it.

I just want to comment on this point for now. The thrust of my posting was that
science is expressed in its own language, ideally mathematics. It  *cannot*  be
translated into natural  language  most of the time because natural language is 
not truth-functional. At best you can give another story. And that's where  the
problem lies to a large part. Because of the 'indeterminacy of translation' see
Quine (1960, 'Word and Object, ch 2), the layman will run off more  often  than
not, with a completely different story than the one you told. We see  that  all
the time in the popular press, and many of us resent those who make a few quick
bucks selling the real work short.

You  *cannot* educate  laymen  about  science  without  training  them   to  be 

Anyone who has tried to talk to  intelligent,  educated friends about their PhD
area *knows* this is (painfully) true.
David Longley

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