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Published on Sep 15, 2011
Google Tech Talk (more info below) August 25, 2011
Presented by Kristen Marhaver.
Scientific information looks a lot like the news because it's printed on paper and built with sentences we believe to be true. But treating scientific papers as if they were a constant stream of news is dangerous because it gives even the most crucial discoveries about Earth's ecosystems only one day of public attention. This confuses the public by obscuring true scientific consensus and allows policymakers to avoid tough decisions.
In my talk, I'll explain why we should be organizing scientific discoveries as if they were products, using informal peer ratings to keep the most important work at the top of list for policymakers and the public to see. Such an effort requires us to consider factors like subscription walls, data access, political agendas, the nature of scientific debate and the deeply-entrenched habits of old academia. Despite the challenges of ranking a product as peculiar as the world's scientific information, I'll argue that a new approach is crucial if we are to make the tough decisions that will protect Mother Earth for the long term.
Kristen Marhaver, UC Merced. Kristen is a Caribbean coral biologist who earned her Ph.D. at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and her bachelor's degree in biology at Georgia Tech. Trained by her fellow Techies to think like an engineer, she found that not only are the world's oceans dysfunctional, but so are the systems that scientists rely on to communicate these problems to the world. Speaking up on these issues, she won awards for her science writing on blogs and her presentations at conferences, but she was never able to win over the person who assigns the ocean-view offices at Scripps. She thus believes that that virtually every system could be further optimized.