Those who can’t, give a “boot camp”

Hmm. I see where Chris Mooney says he is

giving a four hour “boot camp” on science communication to a group of graduate students and other interested parties. The session begins with an overview of the “theory” of science communication–why we must do it better, what the obstacles are, and how a changing media environment makes it much tougher…Then, the session goes into a media “how to”–rules for interacting with journalists, media do’s and don’ts, and an overview of various key communication “technologies,” such as framing.

Interesting, but one question that occurs to me right away is what makes anyone (including Mooney) think Mooney is the right person to teach anyone how to communicate? He’s strikingly bad at it himself. Really he is. Yes I know I’m not an impartial observer, but all the same – he is.

He could so easily have done a better job of “communicating” and “framing” last summer – he could have answered questions instead of ignoring them, he could have taken critics seriously instead of repeatedly trashing them, he could have admitted it when he absorbed other people’s arguments and began regurgitating them, he could have dropped the petulant whining about bloggers he dislikes in the national media. He could have said basically the same things (minus the trashing and whining) but done a better job of it – a less alienating job of it – a less piss everybody off job of it. But he didn’t. He just kept pouring more gasoline on the fire, instead. So in what sense is he an expert on “communication”? In what sense is he even good at it?

He does please the Templeton Foundation, of course, but then the Templeton Foundation is not what you’d call hard to please. They’ll lavish money on anybody who shouts that science and religion are best friends.

Update: link fixed! Sorry – was late in the day when I did this yesterday.

Update 2: Abbie has a very funny post on the subject, with a lot of very funny comments (which eventually become all-Pluto all the time, at which point I recommend ceasing to read).

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