Selling science the Finkel way

Happy the researchers who attract the Chief Scientist’s interest, he can make the incomprehensible understandable, the abstruse amusing and the unfathomable fundamental. He did it the other day in a speech on genome editing for cancer treatment in which he set out the four ways researchers can inform and inspire Australians to embrace their achievements.

“Speak human to humans”: media consultants will tell you that you can’t reach an audience without a clickbait headline or spraying abuse. But you don’t compete in that market. When it comes to health, people are seeking credible information, consolidated in one place. … I don’t mean media releases on new discoveries: I mean materials connecting the science to the decisions we face in daily life.”

Think out to the ten-year horizon”: “Change takes time. Change carries risk. And change has to co-exist with constant care. …That’s the bottom line for politicians. It is incredibly easy to get terribly, terribly wrong. Help leaders think and plan ahead.

Regulate to facilitate”: “A patchwork quilt of regulations might indeed be effective at protecting the safety of the public, but at great economic cost – and the unmeasurable cost of progress foregone. The broader point of regulation is to facilitate progress. Regulation done well is our best friend! It gives us certainty. It rewards the quality providers. It channels our efforts to things we can actually implement. So let’s be even better at regulation.”

Australians assume government works”: “We assume that when we go to hospital, there are protocols and safeguards. We assume that the medicines we get from the chemist are safe. We assume that our researchers are proceeding with integrity. We assume because in almost every case, it’s true: the system protects us. … You in the audience are the people Australians will listen to. They will look to you for guidance in the years ahead. You have a responsibility to work with the regulators, to help them in their quest to modernise the rules to balance safety and progress.

Four boxes really worth ticking.


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