Skip to main content

30% Off New Releases: Explore the List

Harvard University Press - home
Am I Making Myself Clear?

Am I Making Myself Clear?

A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public

Cornelia Dean

ISBN 9780674066052

Publication date: 10/22/2012

Request exam copy

What we don’t know can hurt us—and does so every day. Climate change, health care policy, weapons of mass destruction, an aging infrastructure, stem cell research, endangered species, space exploration—all affect our lives as citizens and human beings in practical and profound ways. But unless we understand the science behind these issues, we cannot make reasonable decisions—and worse, we are susceptible to propaganda cloaked in scientific rhetoric.

To convey the facts, this book suggests, scientists must take a more active role in making their work accessible to the media, and thus to the public. In Am I Making Myself Clear? Cornelia Dean, a distinguished science editor and reporter, urges scientists to overcome their institutional reticence and let their voices be heard beyond the forum of scholarly publication. By offering useful hints for improving their interactions with policymakers, the public, and her fellow journalists, Dean aims to change the attitude of scientists who scorn the mass media as an arena where important work is too often misrepresented or hyped. Even more important, she seeks to convince them of the value and urgency of communicating to the public.

Am I Making Myself Clear? shows scientists how to speak to the public, handle the media, and describe their work to a lay audience on paper, online, and over the airwaves. It is a book that will improve the tone and content of debate over critical issues and will serve the interests of science and society.

Praise

  • Highly regarded New York Times science reporter Dean presents a handbook for any scientist called upon to talk to a reporter, go on television, lobby legislators or in general answer that age-old question, What exactly is it you do? In this age of sound bites and Twitter, Dean exhorts her readers to keep things short and simple. Her advice ranges from what to wear on TV to how to write an op-ed piece to avoiding the appearance of personal gain when lobbying members of Congress. Many of Dean's suggestions are common sense (know what you're going to say, don't slouch), but make useful tips for anyone who comes into contact with the media, courts, or legislative bodies.

    —Publishers Weekly

Author

  • Cornelia Dean is a science writer for the New York Times and Writer-in-Residence at Brown University.

Book Details

  • 288 pages
  • 4-3/8 x 7-1/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

From this author

Recommendations