On a more positive note, I ran across a blot by my college Chad Orzel [Link] entitled “Beyoncé and LIGO: Stochastic Awareness of Science Is Probably Okay”. I have to admit that I had to look up the bouncy association and found out it did have to do with harmonic motion but that wasn’t the point. Which was, I think, social/cultural diffusion.
I should qualify that Chad is one of the bright middle aged minds of the physics world and a colleague of communication not collaboration. He is definitely too swuft for me to keep up with.
Anyway, his point is that outreach is too crippled with angst. That’s my take so don;t blame him. The message is that of my great uncle George about horses and water “You can lead a horse to water but at that point your choices are letting him do what he will or drowning him. And if you drown him, you have to do something with the body or the revenooers will come after you.”
George was big on displeasure with “revenooers”, mostly because he thought it a basic right to make ‘shine. Which I cannot disagree with. (They can tell me who I micturate with – ’cause I don’t like micturating with anyone and hence it’s all one – but not that I cannot make polluted ethanol solution.) But the point is the same as Chad’s.
I have a bit different view on the matter. I have zero interest in sports. OK, not sports physics, but the games themselves: nada. In fact, I consider most spectator sports interest to be pornographic. The only reason to watch a sports event is (a) you have kin or friends involved on the field, or (b) you are studying to be able to play that sport yourself. I also dislike that I am not supposed to laugh uproariously at the antics of play. Main reason SCPdatter wouldn’t allow SCP to attend games she cheered at.
Point being, there are lots more outreach on sports than on physics. And some of that information seeps in despite my apathy. Not much admittedly, but it does. And that’s more than I would seek out.
Most of the people I know – who are bogs but that’s not obviously relevant or causal here – have little interest in science. Only if its something that can hard them, or, less often, benefit them are they interested. And in the main what they want to know is something that will allow them to deny the science. Zika is a good example, climate change the classic. Especially among politicians and Republicans. Which is another aspect.
But the point is that when it comes to physics outreach the best you can do is George’s paradigm of horse watering.
QED. With thanks to Chad.