MOAST & FNR
The famous edutainer, science journalist, chemist and moderator on ‚Quarks‘, Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim gave a keynote talk on 24 May 2019 in Luxembourg about science communication. In this talk, Mai explained why science and YouTube are such a good fit. Jean-Paul Bertemes from science.lu interviewed Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim on this topic.
Why is YouTube such a good fit for science communication?
Many scientists think that you can’t score well on dry numbers or facts. However, I think that it’s just the opposite. Niches, such as science, can survive much better on the Internet than, for example, on TV. When people watch my YouTube videos, they have decided to click on it. They really want to watch the video. And that's why I have a very different starting situation than, for example, on TV.
Find out more about why YouTube and science are a perfect fit in this article:
Why is it so important to communicate about science, nowadays?
At the present time, there are so many interfaces between politics, legislation, the everyday life of humans and science. However, there are translators missing for these intersections.
An example of this is genetic engineering: There are experts working on this and there are policy makers. However, the real questions are: Do the people who make important decisions for our everyday lives, have all the facts? Is there enough exchange between the two groups?
I think that's where we need science communicators with the ability to teach, translate and sometimes arbitrate.
When communicating about science, there is often a tendency to try to communicate as briefly and simply as possible. Is this the right way? Or should science communicators try to go deeper?
In my opinion, science communication doesn’t always have to be as short and as easy as possible. Sometimes I think that we think people are too stupid. If we make it too simplistic, too dumb, to the point that important information isn’t communicated properly anymore, then it is obvious why people are poorly versed in science. That's why I think we should just dare to trust people more, to go deeper, because they really want to know.
What’s your advice to scientists?
I would advise scientists to communicate and to dare more. However, I know how it is. I'm a chemist myself. I was in the lab for years. It's a weird feeling. We are not used to standing in front of a group of people and communicating. However, in my opinion, it should be a given for the ‘scientist’ profession to communicate about science. I mean, as scientists, we know that we work with public money most of the time; it's our responsibility to explain what we do with people's money.
Interviewed by Jean-Paul Bertemes
Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim became popular through her YouTube channels “The Secret Life of Scientists”, where she questions stereotypes about scientists and nerds and convey scientific topics to the younger generations, and “Schönschlau”, which was renamed “maiLab” in 2018. Here she answers hot scientific questions by always referring to scientific publications and the scientific process.