How to communicate scientific uncertainty: A Lifeology and Cochrane collaboration

How to communicate scientific uncertainty

Sometimes science communicators avoid talking about uncertainty in scientific findings…but they shouldn't! What are some ways you can approach communicating about scientific uncertainty?  Explore this and get an introduction with this free course.

Science is complicated and inherently uncertain – it’s hard for scientists and researchers to know how to talk with diverse audiences about this. We are excited for the launch of ‘How to communicate scientific uncertainty’ – a free resource directed at communication professionals and scientists and researchers sharing their work.

Lifeology’s tagline is ‘The place where science and art converge’. They offer a platform that brings together scientists, artists, and storytellers to help people better understand and engage with science, health information, and research. One of the main ways they meet their objectives is through beautifully illustrated, evidence-informed, bite-sized ‘flashcard’ courses about science and health-related topics aimed at the general public and students. This is the third collaboration with Cochrane on a course, the first one being ‘What is an infodemic and how can we prevent it?’ followed by ‘How to talk about vaccines when you’re not an expert’.

“Drawing on experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cochrane Convenes brought together leaders from across the world to explore and then recommend the changes needed in evidence synthesis to better prepare for and respond to future global health emergencies,” explains Cochrane's Editor in Chief, Dr Karla Soares-Weiser. “The Cochrane Convenes Report has a strong call for action for the research community to communicate scientific uncertainty better – this Lifeology course is a fantastic resource to address this.”

Author Nicole Kelp from Colorado State University says, “Uncertainty is complicated for all humans to handle, myself included! It was helpful to consider science communication from this empathic perspective while writing this course.” The Harding Centre for Risk Literacy reviewed a pre-final version. The course was reviewed multiple times by Muriah Umoquit, Communications and Engagement Officer at Cochrane.

This course has 43 cards illustrated beautifully by Jordan Hunter who uses the analogy of a Park Ranger helping people navigate the terrain with signage. “This project was a fun one to work on, “says Jordon. “The imagery in this course highlights the diversity of audiences and instead of text, I used symbols in speech bubbles so that the course can be easily translated.”

Paige Jarreau, co-founder of Lifeology, said "At Lifeology, we believe that science communication in any format, including our flashcard courses, is far better when it is the product of collaboration between scientists and professional creatives like storytellers and artists. We were pleased to be able to work closely with people from Cochrane again to create this course on communicating scientific uncertainty.  This latest free course is accessible in its plain language, has empathetic storytelling, and features relatable imagery. We invite everyone to check to it out and are looking forward to seeing this translated in other languages.”

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Monday, November 28, 2022