Dr. Court Sandau in the lab

5 Outlooks for Environmental Forensics – Part Four: Communicate Science Clearly & With Certainty

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This is part 4 of the blog series on the 5 outlooks of Environmental Forensics.

Environmental forensics cases can be extremely complex.  They start with contaminants with large, awkward names that make most people uncomfortable.  We then talk about representative sampling, measurement uncertainty, concentrations in the part per million and billion and then summarize it with multivariate statistical analysis to “obviously” show the conclusion.

The Importance of Communication

With all that science going on, it is actually the communication component that is probably the most important aspect of the project.  You can do all the steps of the investigation absolutely perfect but if the recipient does not receive your message, you have failed.

“Trust me, I am Scientist” does not work

I find that many of my environmental forensics cases are for the public stakeholders and regulators as well as judges and juries.  There is a need and responsibility to walk the message recipients through the entire process you used to get to your conclusion.  “Trust me, I am scientist” does not work any more.

Main Takeaway

Time and effort needs to go into the communication of the scientific process and results of the study.  One technique I use to do this – the last takeaway point of my talk – will be discussed in the next blog.

The 4th point of my talk was:
4. The science needs to be communicated so non-scientists can understand and communicated with scientific certainty (as much as possible).

If you missed part 3 of this blog series, you can learn about the fundamentals behind graphs and diagnostic ratios in my last blog post.